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Toyota High School Athlete of the Week- Natalie Clere trailblazing in Marcellus

Natalie Clere kicks an extra point in Marcellus' playoff win over Utica-Notre Dame (Matt Hauswirth)

Its Friday night in Marcellus. The Mustangs open up sectional playoffs with Utica Notre Dame, and the home team cruises to the big win.

But if you look just a tad bit closer, hidden amongst the mystique of Friday Night Lights, is Natalie Clere, perhaps the brightest star on the field that night.

“What motivates me is just the love for the game because being with the guys every day is just like another family,” Clere said.

A family that welcomed her in with open arms.

“She’s one of the guys,” Marcellus head football coach Nick Patterson, Sr. explained. “She told me from day one, she said, ‘Coach, treat me like one of the guys.’ Last year, she was playing JV and we used to always joke around and stuff. She came up and said, ‘Coach, I’m here. I want to play. I’m one of the fellas. Don’t treat me any different.’ And that’s how it’s been. She’s done an excellent job for us.”

“We think of her as one of us,” Mustangs senior quarterback, Nick Patterson, Jr. reiterated. “She’s part of the team, so we’re going to make her part of the team.”

Natalie’s been playing organized football since the 7th grade – it’s her first year playing varsity, though – something that presented a concern for at least one of her parents.

“My Mom was more understanding of it than my Dad,” she said with a smile. “It was more of just a I’m going to do it, so you kind of have to deal with it, kind of thing, so.”

And deal with it, he did. Natalie’s the starting kicker, also seeing time as a receiver and defensive back.

On top of that, she’s only a junior, which means…

“Yes, I’m going to play my senior year. I can’t wait, but once the season’s over, I’m ready for the next year,” she added.

Natalie Clere, not just a football player…

“I hope other girls get into this sport. It’s amazing. Honestly, it’s just one of the best things you can do, especially being around the guys. It’s a whole new experience than being around a team of girls.”

…but also a trail-blazer for young women across Central New York.

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