“She was running in the yard and I was running. She skated and I skated. She played with the ball, and I played with her”, says Natalia.
Every summer she went to the pioneer camp, where she found something new for herself: volleyball on the sand, jogging in the morning forest, swimming in the lake. So young Natalia fell in love with sports. Naturally, physical education became her favorite lesson at school.
“I wanted to go to gymnastics, but I was told that I was too mature,” recalls Natalia. “I liked all kinds of sports, especially games. In the sixth grade, I started playing basketball, but the next year I moved to the volleyball section”.
The young volleyball player was immediately noticed. In such cases, they say: “Talent from God”. In high school, she began to play for the city’s team.
It is not surprising that she soon received an invitation to the youth team of the region, with which she traveled to many cities and republics, became a prizewinner of the competitions.
After school, she entered the Krasnoyarsk State University, and the university administration immediately made it clear that they would like to see her in the institute team.
However, mathematics did not greatly inspire Natalia. As a result, she changed her place of study, choosing a more suitable, physical education direction for herself, and at the same time went to work at the plant, where they quickly learned about her sports talents.
“I got a job at a factory, and since in the Soviet Union they paid much attention to mass sports, almost all enterprises had their own teams that performed at a semi-professional and even professional level. As a result, like other talented athletes, I was freed from work: I spent my strength and time on the sports results of the factory team. I continued to play for the national team of the Krasnoyarsk region”, she says.
At some point in the life of a promising and successful athlete, changes occurred: she met a young man and decided to return to Norilsk to create a family.
Before starting to work she visited the House of Physical Culture, where volleyball games were being played. There another turning point came in her life:
“The leaders of Taimyrenergostroy attended the competition and offered me to become a sports instructor. I was a little confused because I had no idea about this work. But they promised to teach me everything. Therefore, at the end of 1979 a new stage began in my life”.
Natalia recalls that the first thing she paid attention to was a friendly and close-knit team.
“The leaders of the organization were passionate about sports. I myself continued to practice: in addition to volleyball, I took part in table tennis, swimming, shooting, and cross-country skiing and so on. Fortunately, I have always managed to successfully combine several sports, and this is probably one of my features”.
Natalya worked as a sports instructor at Taimyrenergostroy for ten years. Later, in her career, there were similar positions at Norilskgazprom and at the Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant. In 2004, she took up another challenge:
“A new sports complex was opened in the Norilsk transport enterprise, and the managers really wanted me to head it. At the new place, I immediately noticed that the sports traditions were very strong. For me it was a new challenge, a new peak that had to be conquered, and that’s why I agreed”.
Today in the transport subdivision of the Nornickel Polar Division, about 200 people are actively involved in sports. The company regularly holds internal sports days in seven sports, according to the results of which the best athletes go to the general sports day of the company, where they also do not remain without medals.
According to Natalia Frolova, in recent years there has been a noticeable outflow of young athletes, so veterans most often carry the banner of the association:
“Veterans are our backbone, our conductors of the ideas of sports and physical culture. They can be seen regularly at the gym and at various events. In addition, even if they do not act as athletes, they always come to the stands to support their colleagues. Unfortunately, today young people are lagging behind, but this is fixable, because there will always be young guys who inspire others with their personal example”.
Today Natalya not only continues to participate in competitions, but is also a judge. Volleyball remains the main and most favorite sport for her, but she succeeds in the rest. For example, being a member of the Polar Division‘s team she won the international badminton tournament.
“No matter how trite it may sound, sport is my lifestyle, I can’t go anywhere without it. When I walk around the city, I pay attention to the sports grounds. When I meet a new person, I try to find out if he is passionate about sports. In addition, if I go on vacation, I definitely take a volleyball with me. Everyone knows that sports and physical education prolong life, so let’s live longer”, she concluded.
Text: Mikhail Tuaev, Photo: personal archive of Natalia Frolova