Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/8/12
For many, Michigan State University is not only a school, but it’s a culture. A culture of people who represent and stand for the same thing, Spartan Pride. From East Lansing to San Francisco, and all the way to Germany, this culture of people represent the green and white in all four corners of the world. By now, I’m sure that many are aware that the Michigan State basketball team will be tipping off their season tomorrow against Connecticut in a game that will be played at Ramstein Air Base in the German state of Rheinland-Pfalz. However, even though the Michigan State Spartans are 4, 000 miles from home, isportsweb’s David Harns reports about a Spartan family located at Ramstein that will be be doing more than just cheering on their team. Captain Ryan Natalini, from Plymouth, Mich., and his wife Captain Amy Natalini, from White Lake, Mich., both graduated from MSU in 2003 and now call Germany their home. Capt. Ryan Natalini works in Security and Law Enforcement and Capt. Amy Natalini works in Intelligence. Together they have a 2-year-old daughter named Mackayla. Mackayla has never seen a basketball game, much less an MSU basketball game, but here she is (middle), looking on from the baseline in a recreational center on Ramstein Air Base, watching as players three times her size run drills for Coach Izzo and his staff. MSU captain Russell Byrd even stopped by during a layup drill and gave her a high-five. Her parents were beaming with pride. Capt. Ryan Natalini, daughter Mackayla Natalini, and Capt. Amy Natalini at a recreational center on Ramstein Air Base watching the Spartans practice. While in college, Ryan and Amy both attended many games. They were in the Color Guard and presented the flags before the game. But they never dated at MSU. “I knew I loved her from the moment I met her,” Ryan said. Amy replied with a smile, “I took a little convincing.” The couple, who’ve been married for six and a half years, have been excited for the game ever since they found out on ESPN in June that the Spartans would be playing UCONN in the inaugural Armed Forces Classic. Not only does Ryan get to watch his favorite team up close and personal, he is the official escort for the Spartans. “Its amazing the dedication and skill these players have toward the game of basketball,” Ryan said. Ryan will represent the Air Force to the team, and his job is to answer any Spartans’ questions and make their stay here as nice as possible. Life really does come full circle, as 9 years later, after graduating from Michigan State and embarking on a career that would take them all over the world, the Spartans have come to them. It’s now his job to make sure that the Spartans are given everything they need to succeed. They’ll both be there tomorrow night,  cheering on MSU just like they were in college all over again.              

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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