Natasha Mack overcame life’s growing pains on her way to the WNBA

Natasha Mack overcame life’s growing pains on her way to the WNBA
Natasha Mack (Oklahoma State Athletics) (Source: Oklahoma State Athletics)

LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - Natasha Mack is just a day away from realizing her ultimate dream.

The Lufkin native is projected to be drafted early in this year’s WNBA Draft on Thursday. It is a dream Mack has been set on since she walked the halls of Coston Elementary. In third grade she had a book she would write in for class. On Page 21 there is a simple passage but meant everything to her.

“More than anything else for my future I want to be a WNBA Player,” a younger Mack wrote. “A famous basketball player. If that does not work, I want to be a teacher. If that does not work I want to be a judge.”

That dream could be realized tomorrow if she has her name called like many draft experts predict will happen.

“It is just exciting and overwhelming,” Mack said. “A dream come true. Just call my name. Whatever team really wants me just call my name.”

Things were not always easy for Mack. Coming out of high school she was highly recruited and eventually signed with the University of Houston.

”As a kid you are like straight shot, straight basketball,” Mack said. “All that. Then as you get older and become an adult life starts to hit you. It is like U-turn, detour left, right, bumps curves. High School could not prepare me for what college was like.”

Mack would never enroll in college and instead pick up a job at Pilgrim’s Pride, a chicken plant on the west side of Lufkin. Mack had fallen out of love with the game.

“It was just the people around me,” Mack said. “I did not have a lot of support. Peer pressure played a part in the bad decisions in life. I had to outgrow people to grow up.”

WEBXTRA: Natasha Mack

While working in the plant she took a call from the coaching staff at Angelina College and decided to join the program. At the time it was just about staying active.

“Honestly there was no WNBA goal,” Mack said. “It was like, ‘here I am again. Let’s give it one more try. In order to get back on my feet and play the game I love.’ I am grateful for that experience. It was a blessing in disguise.”

Mack would leave Angelina College as the programs All-time leading points scorer and shot blocker. She earned the NJCAA Player of the Year Award in 2019. She picked up a spot on the Oklahoma State roster and from day one made an impact. Mack finished the 2021 season with mark with 112 blocks which was a record for herself and the nation’s best total as well. Her 4.0 blocks per game also lead the country. She finished in the 1,000 point club for Oklahoma State and Angelina College as well. She also became only the second-ever Cowgirl to pick up a triple double in a game.

Now she will look to put her name next to other great Lufkin athletes that went pro like Dez Bryant, Keke Coutee, Erik McCoy and NFL Hall of Famer Ken Houston. The difference is that Mack will be the first female athlete to go pro and she hopes that her journey will inspire others so she is not that last.

“I hope to just let them know that no matter what obstacles you take, you can get to where you want to be,” Mack said.

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