Editor’s note: This is the fourth of a six-part series of stories about the 2015 Crawford County Sports Hall of Fame inductees.
Natalie Winkelfoos doesn’t take her hometown of Bucyrus lightly.
She even credits it with shaping her life and career, which has garnered her recognition in the 2015 Crawford County Sports Hall of Fame.
Winkelfoos lives right outside of Cleveland with her partner and son Griffin. She commutes 45 minutes to Oberlin College, working as the first female Delta Lodge Director of Athletics and Physical Education since 2012.
“There are plenty of incredibly talented women leading athletics departments in this country. I am fortunate to be on that list,” she said in email to the Inquirer.
The role fits Winkelfoos who was considered a top athlete in Bucyrus. She scored over 1,000 points in basketball, the first boy or girl to accomplish that fete, and was an All-Ohioan in both basketball and softball.
“I loved growing up in Bucyrus. It was a tight-knit community where everybody knew your name (cue the Cheers theme song),” she said. “I played outside constantly — running around with the neighborhood kids and my older brother. I was fortunate that he would (most of the time) allow me to tag along and include me in his home-run derby contests at Aumiller Park and flag football games. I was the girl playing with boys. I became the girl beating the boys.
“I had great teachers and coaches throughout elementary and high school, which as you can imagine, has been extremely beneficial in shaping in who I am and what I have and will continue to achieve.”
Winkelfoos played basketball for the Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets and led her team to a 100-17 record in the four years she played under Coach Cheri Harrer. Natalie played in three NCAA tournaments and two All- OAC and OAC tournaments, and was team captain. Winkelfoos set a record for three point shots and was sixth all time in steals.
It was Harrer who nominated Winkelfoos for the Crawford County Sports Hall of Fame. Winkelfoos remembered when she got the good news.
“I had just come from a meeting with my College President (my boss) when I received the call. I was flattered but even more humbled when I learned that my college coach Cheri Harrer nominated me,” she said. “She has had such an incredible impact on me personally and professionally.”
After graduating from Baldwin Wallace, Winkelfoos received a master’s degree in higher education administration and student personnel at Kent State University.
Winkelfoos has been on the staff at Oberlin College since 2005. She started out as an associate director of athletics for development and alumni relations and worked as the department’s senior women’s administrator.
She also served on the North Coast Athletic Conference Diversity Committee with conference presidents and the executive director to create a conference-wide program to mentor females and minorities. She was part of a working group that produced Oberlin’s first ever varsity student-athlete transgender inclusion policy. Winkelfoos served as interim director of athletics a couple of times. The Women in Sports and Events organization have recognized her as an influence to the sports industry.
She is now a member of the president’s senior staff. To date, she has been instrumental in raising about $30 million for Oberlin College Athletics. This includes an $8 million gift, the largest gift to Oberlin Athletics in history, to help fund the Austin E. Knowlton Athletics Complex that opened a year ago. She has also procured funds that will reshape Oberlin’s health and wellness facilities in the near future. Winkelfoos inherited a department that is part of a $15 million capital campaign, which works with the office of development.
“One of my favorite quotes is, ‘I never lose. Either I win or I learn.’ I have no regrets,” she said.
The Crawford County Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015 Induction Banquet will take place at the Trillium Event Center, 1630 E. Southern Ave., in Bucyrus 5 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for 12 and under. The tickets can be purchased at the Crestline Advocate, the six high school athletic department offices or by calling 419-571-6284.
The other inductees are Bill Durtschi of Galion, Jack Hewitt of Bucyrus, Chuck Huggins of Colonel Crawford, Natalie Winkelfoos of Bucyrus and the 1985 Buckeye Central girls basketball state championship team.
Information submitted by Carolyn Helbert was used in this article.
Reach Klein at 419-468-1117, ext. 2048 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.