FAIRMONT — Fairmont Senior High’s Natalie Mazelon nearly gave up her relationship with the game of lacrosse prematurely, she said, if not for another relationship, a friendship that today is tragically gone in person, but remains as strong as ever in memory.
“Megan Stephenson begged me to play freshman year and I didn’t,” said Mazelon, referencing Stephenson, a 2016 FSHS graduate of Fairmont Senior and a standout for the Lady Polar Bears lacrosse team who was tragically killed in a car accident in December of 2017. “I got back into it sophomore year because of (her).”
Today, Mazelon’s friendship with Stephenson lives on through lacrosse, and her relationship with lacrosse now lives on because of Stephenson.
“Now, I play every game for her,” Mazelon said.
On Thursday, Mazelon’s powerful inner bond between Stephenson’s lasting memory and her own newfound love for lacrosse culminated in a once-in-a-lifetime moment as Mazelon announced her commitment to continue her lacrosse career at the next level at Seton Hill University in Greenburg, Pennsylvania.
“It kind of clicked my junior year when we won the state championship where I was like, ‘Dang, I could probably go somewhere for lacrosse,’” said Mazelon, who first took up the sport in middle school and played in 5th and 6th grade. “(Still), I really thought I was going to WVU, but after I visited (Seton Hill), talked to the coaches and saw everything, I really thought it was the best fit for me.”
Mazelon, who played just two years of lacrosse in high school with the Lady Polar Bears’ 2020 season cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, will join a Top 25 Division II lacrosse program at Seton Hill as an attacker after a distinguished career at Fairmont Senior.
“She didn’t think she was good enough,” said longtime Fairmont Senior girls’ lacrosse coach Jon Cain of Mazelon’s initial thoughts on college lacrosse, “and I told her, ‘Kiddo, I’ve seen enough players to know you’re good enough.’”
Mazelon first caught the eye of Seton Hill’s program this past winter while playing winter ball in preparation for the 2020 spring season, according to Cain. On Cain’s recommendation as well as assistance from Cain’s daughter, Morgan Comport, who’s the lead assistant coach with Seton Hill women’s lacrosse, Seton Hill head coach Courtney Grove contacted and eventually offered Mazelon.
“They liked her game, they loved her attitude and it worked it out,” Cain said. “With the coaching at Seton Hill and the players around her there, she could do big things. The sky is the limit for her.”
“I’m a little nervous because I know the coach is pretty hard on the team, but I’m also excited and I think I’m going to do well,” said Mazelon, who tallied 58 goals in 21 games for Fairmont Senior in 2019 as a junior. “I know they’re going to help me out a lot. I’ve been talking to all of the coaches — the defensive coach and the offensive coach — and they told me I don’t have to worry.”
Mazelon, who plans to major in a business-related field at Seton Hill with a minor in child development, came virtually out of nowhere in a two-year span to become a scoring dynamo at Fairmont Senior. She picked up on the nuances of lacrosse extremely quickly, Cain said, and her quick-twitch shooting ability and undeniable scoring potential proved so lethal it became a bit of running joke in the team’s locker room, she said. Mazelon earned the nickname “Maserati” in reference to the Italian car manufacturer due to her long strides and blazing speed.
“She’s a smash-mouth player,” said Cain, comparing Mazelon’s game to his daughter’s when she played. “She won’t take ‘No’ for an answer when it comes to her nose for the goal — she just goes after it.”
As a junior in 2019, Mazelon’s 58 goals were second on the team (trailing only senior All-American Rhyan Cochran’s 59 scores) and fifth in the entire state as she was named to the West Virginia Scholastic Lacrosse Association’s all-state first team.
“Lacrosse is not something you just do overnight, it’s something you have to work at with the catching and the throwing, and she worked hard at it,” Cain said. “She worked hard to get her skills down, from her ground ball game to her shot, and that impressed me.”
Looking back on her career with the Lady Polar Bears, Mazelon, while bummed about her senior season being cancelled, expressed her appreciation for her coaches and her teammates as well as how the atmosphere and the vibes surrounding the program were an everyday treasure.
“The practices were so fun. The coaches always made sure that having fun was a top priority,” she said. “There was never a dull moment on that team.”
“She’s such a great raw athlete, and I used to talk with her parents and they said she played about every sport and was always good at every sport she played, but that she just never fell in love with anything,” Cain said. “(Assistant) coach Jerry Gardner and I really want our kids to enjoy what they’re doing and fall in love with the sport so they’ll work harder and that’s exactly what she did. She wanted to come to practice, she wanted to work hard, she loved playing for the girls around her and that’s the kind of kid she is; she’s a hard worker no doubt, but she’s the kind of kid who wants to have some fun, too, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”