Leesburg, Va. — Loudoun County High School senior Natalie Villaflor has officially decided to continue her basketball career at Division I Robert Morris University starting in the 2018-2019 academic year.
“I chose RMU because I feel like it offers the right balance of academics and athletics,” Villaflor said. “I immediately fell in love with the campus and community feel there. I was always looking for a smaller sized school where I can get to know all of my professors and classmates extremely well, and I feel like I will be able to do that here. The RMU girls and coaching staff are amazing, genuine people, and I am so thankful to officially be a part of an organization reflecting mutual goals and visions.”
Robert Morris University is located in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The women’s basketball team ended their 2016-2017 season 22-11, undefeated in their Northeastern Conference tournament and even made it into the first round of the 2017 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.
“I hope to add new energy to the RMU basketball program,” the 5-foot-10 small forward said. “I want to be able to support and encourage my team because as a freshman, I know that I will need to work hard to prove myself and earn myself playing time.”
Villaflor’s name is widely recognized in the basketball community throughout Loudoun County. After picking up second team all-VHSL 4A West region honors in 2015, Villaflor has been named the Conference 21B Player of the Year the past two seasons, while also earning first team all-VHSL 4A state honors in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. Villaflor was named first team All-LoCo in 2015, 2016 and 2017, earning the county’s Player of the Year honors following the 2016-2017 season.
“I started playing basketball in third grade because my mom signed me up just to try it out,” Villaflor said, “I immediately loved the fast pace and intensity of the game. I have never really had a specific role model because there are so many great coaches and talented players that I have gotten to meet throughout basketball. I look up to everyone who has influenced me in different ways. My coaches and my team have definitely kept me motivated and I wouldn’t be the player I am today without them.”
Villafor has learned great leadership lessons that have come from playing basketball. The influx of basketball club players in Loudoun County has raised the level of play during the high school season.
“I have been blessed to have met a lot of great coaches that have influenced my game,” Villaflor said. “My coaches have definitely kept me motivated to keep working hard. I know they have put a lot of time into making my team and I better and I never will take that for granted. My high school coach Derek Fisher has helped me grow a lot as a player. He has put a lot of time into helping me improve my game.”
Villaflor and the rest of the Lady Raiders finished their 2016-2017 season 24-4, advancing all the way to the VHSL 4A state tournament. Loudoun County will start their 2017-2018 season in just a few months and are hoping to return to the state tournament.
“A team accomplishment I will never forget was last year when we beat Liberty in the game that determined whether or not we would progress to states,” Villaflor said. “We knew what was at risk going into the game because they’re an extremely talented team. The game was so intense from start to finish, but we pulled through and won. I truly wasn’t able to stop smiling for the next month. I have been really lucky to have been a part of Loudoun County basketball. We have a great coaching staff and all the players are always dedicated to work hard throughout the season. My goal for this upcoming season is to win the state tournament while continuing to work hard throughout the season.”