Original Invicta FC Phoenix Girl Natasha Wicks has done it all; long distance running, modeling, and of course the aforementioned position with Invicta FC. Looking forward to continuing with Invicta FC, Natasha gives us her take on her wide ranging and unique career.
Corey Smith: Before any involvement in MMA, you are first and foremost a long distance runner. How did your love for that sport come about?
Natasha Wicks: It all starts with my parents. My father was a sprinter; a red haired, golden-eyed Irishman who could medal in the shorter distances. While my mother was a distance runner; she holds the first ever High school Cross-countryState championship medal for a woman in Las Vegas. Combine the two and you have me, the human Seabiscuit. I began running with my mom in the morning before home school in 8th grade and went to Public high school so that I could compete in XC (Cross Country) and T&F (Track And Field).
NW: I ended up at NorthernArizonaUniversity, a Division 1 school, on a full ride academic and athletic scholarship. My dad died when I was young and there is something in me that feels I keep him “alive” in me through my running. Running is in my blood, nothing excites me more then competing.
CS: You spoke in the past about training for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Are you still training towards that goal?
NW: That has been a goal of mine since high school. Competing in the Olympics. Because of some serious injuries after college, I stopped running altogether and went through a depression because of it. I was always “Natasha Wicks the Runner” and felt like nobody if I wasn’t racing/winning. Now that I am healthy and have the most amazing team around me, I feel like I can really show what I am capable of as an athlete. If I end up being ready and a true competitor by 2016, then I will try. But in all truth, I so much prefer trail racing since I am a long distance runner… 25 laps on a track can be hell at times. Haha.
CS: As part of your training regime, you adhere to a pretty strict juice diet. What are the benefits of such a diet? What are the challenges of a juice diet?
NW: I do Juice fasts, cleanses and intermittent fasting throughout the year. I juice everyday, but that is usually with a meal. The benefits are vast! Fasting, cleansing and detoxing are all great to give your body a reboot, to flush out inflammation and fungus and keep my body functioning at the highest level. It is impossible to compete at the highest level if you don’t keep your machine fine tuned on the inside as well as the outside. The challenges of doing cleanses and fasts is really only hard for the first 3-4 days then it’s easy. It’s only hard because I love food. ;)
CS: At what point did you begin to model full time? How did that portion of your career come about?
NW: I began modeling at the end of 2007 and was in full force model mode all through 2008 and on. The kick start happened in Hawaii were it was brought to my attention that models are not all tall and that I could have a real career in it. So I figured I’d try and give it a go.
CS: You were selected to be a UFC Octagon Girl via a national search. What was that experience like for you?
NW: Winning the UFC/Maxim Octagon Girl Search was definitely a life changing moment. It has brought me to where I am today and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I only submitted my Bio and photos because it was for a coveted position in a ever growing sports organization. And I love my sports!
NW: Upon arrival though, I quickly decided to just have fun because I did not see myself winning. Thousands of girls submitted themselves to be in the top 40 that would compete at the UFC expo for UFC 100. When they announced me the winner at the end of 3 rounds, I was beyond ecstatic and at the time didn’t really realize how big a deal it was. And working as an Octagon Girl was so much fun!
NW: Despite the random hatred I get from Arianny, I really loved working the fights with her, Logan and Leslie our Octagon mom. Always being goofy and talking about boys and the awkward weigh-in moments…. it was a laugh fest. I loved being there, watching the fights live, signing autographs and having my hair pulled to come back and sign someone’s shirt. ;)
CS: As the original Phoenix Girl for Invicta FC, what has your experience been like thus far with the company? What differences are there between Invicta FC and other promotions?
NW: Being personally selected by Invicta president Shannon Knapp to be her first official Phoenix Girl/Ring girl was such an honor. I love that she views me as a strong woman who represents other strong woman in the first ever all woman’s MMA organization. Shannon Knapp gave me the task of putting the Phoenix Girls/Ring girls together as well.
NW: Before any outfit decisions she asked my opinion and has always made me feel like a valuable asset to this ever growing organization. I’ve been at all 7 of the fight events and have seen so many big changes all ready. All good! The vision, Organization, and staff are all top notch and the athletes truly are some of the most amazing woman. Being surrounded by athletes, especially women, pushes me and inspires me in my own sport.
NW: The difference between Invicta and other promotions is that it is all about the athletes. Shannon Knapp created a stage for woman from all over the world to display their skills and she takes everyone into consideration and pulls out all the stops. And because the athletes and the employees see how much Shannon does for them, they have so much more respect for her. There is something comfortable about being at Invicta’s events. You feel like an important and valuable team player. I am sure all the athletes and staff feel the same way. I’ve never seen nor felt that way in any other organization.
CS: Between running, modeling, and your work within the MMA world, your professional plate seems to be rather full. Do you think it is important to have varied interests and professional opportunities?
NW: My plate is definitely full! But in all good ways. I am doing what I love and what makes me the happiest. Training full time with a part time job at a Specialty Running Store(Running Revolution) makes for a very relaxed and stress free life. To add all the companies I represent, gigs, shoots and Invicta events on top doesn’t really change much. Modeling can be time consuming, depending on the gig, but it is so easy. I love the variety of it all. Keeps me interested. Haha. I am a very active and adventurous person so getting to travel for work and getting paid to play dress up has been a dream the last 4 years.
CS: You have participated in two overseas tours for American Troops. What were those experiences like?
NW: The first Tour for the Troops that I did was in Iraq and Kuwait in 2011. I was invited by Amber Nichole Miller, the OG UFC octagon girl whom I had only met and worked with once at a gig in Vegas. Karaoke brings people together lol. The Tour was so rad! We visited the different bases, talking to the soldiers and hearing about all the different jobs and positions. We flew around on Black Hawks, shot Sniper 50 calibers, machine guns, made a bomb.
NW: My grandpa served in WWII and I have brothers in the army, so I loved that I was able to show my love and support to all the men and woman who have sacrificed so much for our country. The second Tour for the Troops was in 2013 in the Middle East as well; 6 countries on that Tour. Just like the first, I had such an amazing time and hope to do many more. I love our Troops!
CS: Outside of your professional interests, what types of activities do you enjoy?
NW: Outside of Running, Ring-girling and modeling I have quite the array of interests and hobbies. I love to sew, crochet, stitch; in fact in college I started making my own handbags for fun and it very quickly turned into a little business for me. I probably made over 200 bags and even made some shoes and jeans. I’ll still make them from time to time as a gift.
NW: I was an Art student in College, so I still enjoy drawing/painting. I love photography, skateboarding(since my road rash of 2011 I avoid hills), cooking, baking, gardening, watching movies, writing, scrapbooking, rock-climbing, surfing, hiking, shopping, traveling…. ;)
CS: Lastly, it takes a team behind you to succeed. Who would you like to thank?
NW: First and foremost I want to thank Invicta, Shannon Knapp, for bringing me into this amazing organization. I want to thank my running sponsors Oak Grove Technologies and Premiere Spine and sport.
NW: My team of trainers at The Riekes Center, always taking my fitness to the next level. Thank you to the team at SNAC, monitoring me on the inside and supplying me with the best supplements.
NW: I want to thank Apocalypse MMA for working with me and creating the most beautiful website. Thank you to Randy Couture and all the guys at Kountermove for putting my face on all over their company.
NW: And of course a big thank you to all my fans, they have continued to follow and support me in everything that I pursue. I wouldn’t be where I am without my fans!