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Eagle River girl beats the odds, will compete in international martial arts competition
EAGLE RIVER - When you look into the eyes of 11-year-old Natalie Simac, you'll see drive and discipline. 
 
"She shows a lot of heart. She shows a lot of determination and that is a skill set you just can't teach," said Natalie's instructor Dave Sixel. 

On the mat, Natalie shines.

"It's really fun [and] difficult. It's a good challenge," said Natalie. 

But for her, challenges are far beyond just winning matches. 

"Natalie was born with Amblyopia. One of her eyes is completely near-sighted and one is completely far-sighted and she has no depth perception," said Sarah Simac, Natalie's mom. 

"She's [a] very athletic girl. We've tried many things. We've tried soccer and we tried t-ball and [they were all] just very hard for her," said Greg Simac, Natalie's dad. 

At just nine months old, Natalie got her first pair of glasses. Ever since, she's been beating the odds. 

"It's been really difficult for her to navigate physically and she's really overcome a lot of obstacles. We're super proud of her," said Sarah. 

"I just keep working hard and training through it," said Natalie. 

Natalie is now training to overcome an even bigger obstacle. She'll be representing Team USA at a martial arts competition in Australia later this month. 

"There [are] a lot of people, of course, in the country that deserve to go, but I think being that I had the opportunity to do the pick, she was definitely on my number one list," said Sixel. 
 
If just for a day, you could see the world through Natalie's eyes, you'd see her vision of success is clear as day. 
 
"Sure it's a competing, a fighting aspect, but there's more to it. It really is a lot of mind, body, and spirit and that's where Natalie comes in," said Sixel. 
 
Natalie and her parents are heading to Australia at the end of this week. She'll be competing next Friday. Natalie is one of eight students competing in Australia.



Story By: Allie Herrera


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