Love and Basketball
Spring 2018 | By Joshua Darling
Clayton State Athletics is a family that continues well beyond the arena of competition and even grows years down the road.
Not only have longstanding relationships come from the experience of being a Laker, it has helped to form families, with a number of former student-athletes marrying following their time at the University. One such couple dates back nearly to the very beginning of athletics at Clayton State University.
The institution had just completed its first year of athletic competition when Natalie Taubert and David Viti both came to what was then, a fledgling program to play basketball in the fall of 1991. Viti was a member of a second-year men’s team coming off a 3-24 inaugural season, while Taubert was part of a group of players making history as the first women’s basketball team at then Clayton State College.
“We both loved basketball and wanted to keep playing,” Viti said. “The basketball programs were both relatively new – the girls’ was brand new. Individually, we thought it would be a good experience to help start a program and get it going in the right direction. The scholarships were nice too. Being able to go to school and get a degree without going into debt was a great opportunity.”
As it turned out, their decision to become Lakers would impact their lives far beyond basketball and play a pivotal role in Natalie and David finding each other.
“We first met at Clayton State, in the gym, in October of 1991,” said Taubert (now Natalie Viti). “I was a freshman and David had transferred from Gordon Junior College. He was rehabbing a knee injury so he was unable to begin playing until the next year.”
While Viti redshirted for a team that improved to 9-18 in 1991-92, Taubert averaged just over six points and four rebounds and nearly two assists for a Laker squad that put up a respectable first year record of 8-16.
The following year, Viti was able to get on the court and rarely left it, playing 30 games. He averaged over eight points and shot better than 80-percent from the foul line in helping Clayton State to a seven-win improvement to 16-15. Meanwhile, Taubert had a similar impact for the women as they also posted the first winning season in program history, going 14-13.
As their careers progressed, so too did their relationship as they grew closer through basketball.
“We dated almost the entire time, except for the first few months,” said Taubert. “With both of us being in the basketball program, we spent a lot of time together.”
In 1993-94, Natalie took on a larger role with the women’s team, playing in all 29 games while David continued to help the men make history in what would be his final season. That year he averaged just over seven points and played in all 32 games for a club that went 25-7, still the best record in program history.
"Individually, we thought it would be a good experience to help start a program and get it going in the right direction. The scholarships were nice too, being able to go to school and get a degree without going into debt was a great opportunity." - David Viti
The record setting achievements wouldn’t stop there as Taubert, who had been on that first team, helped guide the 1994-95 team to its first postseason berth. The Lakers went 21-13 and qualified for the NAIA National Tournament in a season that saw her play 31 games.
It would be a season that was impactful for more than one reason, as the couple became engaged during that year as well. They married on July 6, 1996 and have been together ever since.
In that time, they have raised a son, David Viti Jr., who has committed to play basketball at Division I Georgia Southern, and a daughter, Sara, who is a freshman and member of the basketball team at Buford High School. Taubert currently teaches math at Buford Middle School and Viti owns his own business and sells property with RE/MAX.
Not only did Clayton State Athletics, in particular basketball, help to bring together two individuals that might otherwise not have met, it also led to a family that has continued to impact both their community and the sport that helped make it possible.