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Posted on Thu, May 9, 2013 : 5:40 a.m.

Images of Michigan softball and its youngest team member, 9-year-old Natalie Harper

By Daniel Brenner

In 2010, Natalie Harper met then-seniors with the Michigan softball Nikki Nemitz and Roya St. Clair and hoped to get a picture with them. She received so much more as Nemitz and St. Clair introduced Harper to the entire team. Since then, Harper, 9, and her parents have become regulars at Michigan home games, and Natalie is now treated like a member of the team.

Daniel Brenner is a photographer for


Ann English

Thu, May 9, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

It's good to read about a child who DOESN'T have cancer or another serious illness participating with college athletes. The fact that she's healthy stands out in this article. She may not make TV coverage like the 5-year-old boy carrying a football to the end zone pursued by jogging Nebraska football players, but he has cancer. So the two stories have different purposes for being written. This article had me looking for what brought the Harpers up here to begin with and what illness did Natalie have that couldn't be treated in Indiana. Not the usual kind of story. Even if it didn't have this comment-posting feature, a reader would not merely skim it, but notice it doesn't have the usual reasons behind it (no mention of older relatives playing softball here, no serious illness to be treated). "Where is this story going?" comes to mind, a thought usually applied to a whole novel.