Natasha Bannister is yearning to get back on the volleyball court. It has been over a year since she was able to play the game she loves, due to Covid-19.
“Our last game was at the beginning of December last year, so I definitely can’t wait to play.”
The Nelson volleyballer will spend the holidays in South Carolina as the pandemic runs rampant through The United States.
“It is frustrating not being able to go home for Christmas, I am missing New Zealand.”
South Carolina has had more than 260,000 cases and almost 5000 deaths due to Covid-19.
“It’s pretty bad and freaky to know New Zealand has no cases, it’s pretty scary seeing the news but no one here seems to care, it’s really laid back.”
Natasha’s season has also been significantly affected by the virus.
“We didn’t have a season this semester, it has been pushed to spring. We have just been trying to train, lifting weights and playing scrimmage games.”
She initially moved to Florida on a college scholarship, where she spent her junior college years. Natasha says the humidity took some getting used to, as did the accents.
“The humidity was insane, it was like walking outside into a hot car.”
Fellow students would often ask Natasha to repeat herself and would respond with puzzled looks to typical Kiwi colloquialisms such as ‘sweet as’.
Following her stint at the University of West Florida, Natasha transferred to Newberry College.
“It is a small town, so coming from Tapawera it was very similar, it was a nice change, everyone knows each other.”
Sport is a huge part of the culture at Newberry.
“Probably 80 per cent of the students are athletes.”
Among her achievements are an average of 17 kills in one game, a high of seven aces, and making the all-tournament team at the Bobcat Invitational.
She says the quality of volleyball is incredibly high.
“It’s a crazy difference, level is insane, so much faster and more intense, but I love it and feel I have improved.”
Off the court, Natasha is also making an impact in the classroom.
Studying graphic design, Natasha achieved A’s across the board for a 4.0 grade point average.
Natasha is hoping to finish her college years as an all-American as she chases her dream of playing professionally.