The Pierce High School Gym will forever be branded as the Natalie Corona Gymnasium, a fitting epitaph for an athlete and hero.
Natalie Corona, 22, an officer of the Davis Police Department, was shot and killed on Jan. 10, 2019, while responding to a car crash. Corona was a native of Arbuckle and an alumna of Pierce High School.
Michael Barber, athletic director, and former classmate suggested the honor on Apr. 11 at a school board meeting. The school board approved the suggestion after obtaining permission from Corona’s family.
“I just thought it was fitting,” Barber said.
After months of planning, the home gym where Corona played was dedicated at a ceremony on Oct. 8 during a volleyball game, one of Corona’s favorite sports, according to her mother, Lupe Corona.
Outside the gym, her name is permanently displayed. Inside, the gym was also dedicated with the words “Natalie Corona Gymnasium” above a thin blue line flag, and beneath that, Corona’s End of Watch date that many residents who were close to the slain officer will not forget.
“It’s just a beautiful moment,” said David Vujovich, Pierce High School principal.
In addition to the community, law enforcement officers from Roseville, Davis, and Colusa County were present to pay their respects.
“This is the most packed I’ve seen the volleyball gym other than a major volleyball in the championships last year, and it’s just a special part for this town,” Vujovich said. “A lot of thought and a lot of work went into this.”
Two shirts with the number 11 were carefully mounted in a frame, which will be hung in the newly dedicated gym. Meanwhile, girls from the Live Oak High School volleyball team, who were there to play, showed their support by wearing blue and yellow shirts with the number 11 on them.
“All the love and support that we’ve gotten and that she’s gotten is just unbelievable,” said Lupe Corona. “I just can’t get over the different shows of affection, and support, and encouragement, and just…love.”
“The community support was amazing,” said Merced Corona, Natalie’s father, a Colusa County supervisor, and Sheriff’s Department veteran.
The Corona family were given support by officers from Roseville, who are also grappling with grief after Officer Tara O’Sullivan, 26, was gunned down earlier this year on Jun. 19 during a domestic violence call in north Sacramento. ■