Marquette women’s soccer: Twister ravaged senior’s home

Natalie Kulla saves a shot on goal. Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

Senior goalkeeper Natalie Kulla has made plenty of great decisions in her illustrious career at Marquette.

Perhaps the St. Louis native’s most important decision came on April 22, when she took her brother Nathaniel and his girlfriend to the St. Louis Cardinals baseball game against Cincinnati for his 20th birthday.

Good Friday was just like any other typical spring day in St. Louis. A tornado warning was announced, but such alerts are commonplace in the heart of Tornado Alley.

“There’s literally a warning almost once a week during the spring and summer, so people are like, ‘OK, this is the fourth one this month, big deal,’” Kulla said.

This tornado, one of five reported in the St. Louis area that day, was a bit different. It destroyed Kulla’s house — about 12 miles north of Busch Stadium — and three others in her neighborhood.

Luckily, nobody was killed or even seriously injured as Kulla’s parents were at church at the time, adding to the family’s good fortune.

Kulla got a call from her father during a rain delay during the Cardinals’ game saying their house was in pieces.

“I didn’t fully grasp the situation until my dad called and said he was looking into my brother’s room from outside of our house,” Kulla said. “That’s when I knew it was time to go home.”

The family spent the next few hours deciding what items were salvageable and what would be left in the damage. All this took place around 10 p.m., while it was still pouring rain.

“She actually sent us pictures of her house and her street, and everyone was really supportive and trying to help her out,” senior defender Kerry McBride said. “But it was pretty hard because it was so far away.”

Kulla was only in town because it was Easter weekend, and she departed for Marquette the following Monday, leaving her parents to pick up the pieces. Thankfully, her parents were able to stay at her aunt’s house for a few weeks until they moved into the home of Kulla’s boyfriend’s late grandfather, where they have been since May.

The family’s insurance company was able to demolish what was left of Kulla’s home and rebuild it from the foundation. The family should move back in around Christmas time.

What would have happened if Kulla wasn’t at the Cardinals game, or her parents weren’t at church that day?

“It’s scary to think about what could have happened,” Kulla said. “Thankfully there were only like five injuries, and nobody died, so it wasn’t nearly as bad as the tornadoes in Joplin.”

That tornado struck a month later, on May 22, and 162 people died and caused an estimated $3 billion in damage.

“It’s really remarkable that nobody was seriously hurt (in St. Louis), but the entire Kulla family just has an attitude with not dwelling on things for too long and you see that in Natalie,” coach Markus Roeders said. “She’s very even-keeled and realistic, not just in soccer, but with school and in life.”