Every Thursday, GoStanford.com will present an interview with a Stanford women’s gymnastics alumna. This week, sophomore Maggie Teets features Natalie Wiesen (‘06) who competed in the all around.
Maggie: Can you describe what you have been doing since graduating from Stanford?
Natalie: Besides having babies [laughs]! Trent and I got married in 2006 and since then have served as advisors for one of the student groups on campus called Cardinal Life. We are the directors of a non-profit that seeks to serve students at Stanford, as well as the lower income areas around Stanford. Much of my time is spent raising our three kids (Ellie 3 years old, Caleb 2 years old, and Braden 5 months) We have our hands full!
I have also been working toward a master’s program in marriage and family therapy, as well as working toward licensure as a therapist. A unique experience that I had before having kids was spending a good amount of time traveling through Europe and backpacking in the Sierra Mountains. It was an incredible experience.
Maggie: What lessons have you carried with you from your experience on the Stanford gymnastics team?
Natalie: So many! The value of hard work and perseverance – learning how to handle, cope with, and overcome fears, anxieties, and struggles. Also, learning how to win and lose well: having humility and integrity through both. I’ve also learned how to operate as a healthy team with a diverse group of people, how a common goal unites people. Mental toughness is a big one – and focus.
Maggie: What are your favorite Stanford memories?
Natalie: I have so many memories of laughter and goofing off with my teammates. Nationals my sophomore year was also really special. That year, we were on such a roll and it was a pretty powerful to feel unstoppable as a team. We just knew we were going to do well.
I have a lot of awesome memories with friends and Trent, as well. One standout memory is hiking half the dome in the middle of the night during finals week spring quarter of my sophomore year. That was pretty epic and maybe a little bit dumb [laughs].
Maggie: You mentioned you work for the group Cardinal Life on campus. How is Stanford now that you're working with students as an alumna?
Natalie: It is so awesome to be working with students as an alumna. It is neat to have so much more time and energy to invest in other people without the academic and athletic load. I love coming alongside students in their internal and interpersonal struggles, questions, and joys.
It is rich and rewarding to be in a safe place where students can share and process the things that are going on beneath the surface internally, spiritually, emotionally, etcetera. My time with students is what spurred me on to start a master’s in counseling and therapy.
Maggie: Do you have any advice for the girls on the SWG team now?
Natalie: I know you always hear this, but your time at Stanford and your gymnastics career will fly by so have as much fun as you can. Keep a light heart about yourself in the gym (with intense effort, focus, and hard work of course) because that will help you perform to your best. If you build it all up to be bigger in your mind, then you will experience undue pressure and fear of failure.
Invest in your teammates, because those are unique life-long friendships that are like family. Invest in school and don't just "get by" because that will outlast gymnastics. Develop intellectual curiosity and take advantage of learning at such an amazing school. Develop relationships with professors because that will prove beneficial for your time at Stanford and beyond.
Invest in relationships with people, be adventurous, and don't take yourself too seriously. But most importantly, laugh a lot and bring laughter to others. Be thankful for what you have.