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Beyond the Game: As a coach, Natzke turns tragedy into teachable lessons

Brandin Natzke at Ouachita (KATV photo)

As an assistant coach at Ouachita Baptist this season, Brandin Natzke used tragedy in his own life to help influence his players.

In March 2017, Kevin Duck was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty in the 2011 death of Dawna Natzke, Brandin's mom.

Her body was found in a Jessieville pond.

"When my dad had to bring me home and tell me that I was never going to see my mom again, it just absolutely crushed me," Brandin said.

Football was a distraction, but Brandin said it was not enough. He hit a low point in his life.

"I'm thinking alcohol, I'm thinking drugs, I'm thinking suicide. I can't go on anymore."

That is, until two things put him back on the right path: prayer -- he said "God swarmed him" -- and people.

"It all started with a coach investing in my life, caring about his players. And I've always loved football. It's been my favorite sport growing up. I knew I was going to be a football coach from the start, but that's when it opened my eyes that it's bigger than just football."

Being a coach now gives Brandon a means to invest in a player's life, just as a coach did for him.

He teaches them more than X's and O's.

"Football just allowed me to invest and pour back in those kids and get them on the right track and say hey, football is awesome, but there's more to life."

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