Bulldogs’ Combs signs to play soccer at Sonoma State
Next stop, California. Then, the world.
Natalie Combs has greater ambitions than being the best soccer player she can be, but she’ll continue doing that while getting her education at Sonoma State University, beginning this fall.
The Palisade High School senior signed a national letter of intent Wednesday to play soccer for the Seawolves, who come off a season that ended in the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs and a final national ranking of No. 18.
Combs, a four-year starter at Palisade at center-midfielder or outside defender, said she probably will be an outside defender at Sonoma State. The draw to the Rohnert Park, Calif., university stemmed from a long-held desire to go to California, Combs said.
She likes the idea of warmer winter weather and the diversity of people and opportunities California provides.
Combs said she visited five or six colleges and strongly considered California State University-Chico and California Baptist University. Sonoma State was Combs’ choice, though, because of the strength of the program and the impression Seawolves coach Emiria Salzmann Dunn made on her.
Combs said she plans to major in kinesiology and follow in the footsteps of her mother as an occupational therapist.
Achieving that will lead to her next goal: working in Third World countries.
She already got a taste of that earlier this year. Combs went to Uganda and volunteered at a Christian orphanage for two months, teaching preschool in the morning and looking after the children in the afternoons.
“I’ve always liked helping people,” Combs said, adding, “I really connect with kids with disabilities and enjoy working with them.”
The Uganda trip delayed Combs’ college signing by nearly two months. And during Wednesday’s event, Palisade girls soccer coach Raina Sorenson told the group that assembled in the Palisade High School library, “She’s going to make a bigger impact in the world.”
Her coach’s words were nice to hear, Combs said. “You don’t do good things to get praise, but when you do get praise for the good things you do, it motivates you,” Combs said.
Sorenson also praised Combs’ soccer ability, saying the Seawolves are getting “one of the hardest workers and most dedicated players I’ve coached.”
Sorenson said Combs is best-suited as a playmaker, controlling the ball, making passes and setting up others to score.
Palisade teammate Cruz Maestas added, “She can dribble the ball through a whole team if she wanted to,” but Combs understands her role on the team and the difference she makes in it.
“She works really hard to get the ball in position for teammates to score,” Maestas said. “I think that’s really cool of her to give the pass instead of take the shot.”