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Student Athlete Stories
Natasha Dark

By Leah Wing

Lobo diver Natasha Dark is a classic example of how resiliency pays off in both sport and life. In our interview with her, Dark explained how her dedication to athletics has given her numerous opportunities to grow both as an athlete an a person.

For Dark, it wasn’t always clear what her plans would be as she transitioned from high school to college. An Albuquerque native, Dark was recruited out of St. Pius to come to UNM to be a part of the Lobo Swimming & Diving team. However, having been a diver since she was 12, Dark decided it was best for her to part ways with the sport and she committed herself to attend the University of Southern California.

Having been in Los Angeles for just three months, Dark realized that her time competing in the water was not done and that she missed the sense of community that sport brought to her. She called up the Lobo Swimming & Diving coach and asked if the offer still stood for her to come join the team. With excitement, the UNM staff upheld their offer and in the spring semester Dark, in her own words, “dove right in.” In coming to UNM, Dark felt an immediate connection to her coaches and teammates. She explains, “I just immediately had a family. It’s interesting how in athletics we are able to form such tight bonds with our teammates.”

Beyond the family she has created with her teammates, Dark adds that she has also formed lifelong bonds with those she’s met in the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), an organization in which she is the president of the UNM branch. She describes the effort she put to become SAAC president through putting herself out there and volunteering to represent UNM at the Mountain West SAAC meetings. “SAAC,” as she explains, “gives the student-athletes a voice in actual legislation that is part of the NCAA.” Dark has not only shown resiliency in her sport, but in her academic career too. As is the case for many college students, Dark’s academic plans haven’t always been consistent. Dark started off as a pre-med student before realizing that she was more interested in studying biology and the numerous career opportunities that could come of it. She expresses her interest in working as a biologist, ecologist or researcher and can also see herself working with animals. She explains, “it’s up to me to figure out what I want to do with my future. It isn’t up to anyone else.”

Dark recognizes that, despite the demanding schedule that comes along with being an athlete, it is important to take time each day to do something that you enjoy. For her, getting dessert or Chick-Fil-A with friends or going to the movies with her mom seems to bring her the most joy outside of athletics.

UNM has taught Natasha Dark a lot about herself, but most importantly she explains how UNM has taught her about her values as a person. Referencing what she’s learned throughout her time as a Lobo, she states, “the best thing that I can do for my future success is to be the best version of myself for those around me.” Dark represents what it means to be a Lobo student athlete by displaying her passion, dedication, and pride for New Mexico in her day-to-day life.