FRONTENAC -- In the moments after the most anticipated girls volleyball match of the season, when No. 1-ranked Lafayette hosted No. 2-ranked St. Joseph's Academy in the Class 4 state quarterfinals back on October 27, nearly every member of the Angels squad was in tears following a heart-breaking and season-ending loss to the eventual state champion Lancers.
The Angels were heartbroken and disappointed, and every one of them was in tears, except senior outside hitter Natalie Gower.
The MWAA Player of the Year, and future Texas Christian University star, who ranked near the area's best in every hitting category this season, including kills (337) and kill percentage (47.9), didn't shed a tear.
Despite what might have been going on inside, Gower was refusing to give Lafayette, or anyone else for that matter, the satisfaction of seeing her cry.
So after congratulating the Lancers, Gower lead her teammates off the floor, making sure each one of them knew they had nothing to hang their heads about.
It was a remarkable display of leadership and perspective -- that probably nobody in the building even noticed.
But it's because of the cool she showed in even the toughest moments, and of course her spectacular play during the actual matches this year, that Patch is pleased to announce Natalie Gower is the 2012 Fall Sports Female Patch MVP of the Year.
"Thanks, that's cool," the soft-spoken Gower said, when told last week that she would be receiving the award. "So many people have helped me through the years, so any award I get feels like I'm honoring them."
But this particular honor is all Gower, who almost single-handedly got the Angels to that sectional matchup with Lafayette, with a magnificent 15-kill, 4-block performance against rival Ursuline in the district championship game.
Then against Lafayette, Gower had a match-high 13 kills against the best defensive team in the state to give the Angels a shot against the Lancers.
In 2010, Gower was a key contributor off the bench to a state championship winner at St. Joe, then played the role of floor leader for a team that went 61-12 the last two years.
"I thought we had a great year this year," Gower said. "It didn't work out with us going back to state, but we still won a lot of games, and we did it as a team, so it was fun."
Next year, Gower will be a freshman at TCU, and is expected to compete and contribute to a program that's taking its lumps this year -- it's first in the re-vamped Big 12 Conference.
"I'm going to play club (volleyball) this winter, and keep working out, so I can be ready for next year," Gower said. "I want to be able to go in there next year and just contribute however I can. If they expect me to play, I want to be ready to play."
No doubt when the time comes, she'll be ready to lead at TCU, just like she's done the last two years at SJA.