Alumni Profile: Lariel Mateo ’17 COP
Lariel Mateo '17 embarked on her University of the Pacific journey with aspirations of joining the athletic training program. However, her path took an unexpected yet rewarding turn.
During her time at Pacific and in the years following, Lariel actively engaged in "Noonball" basketball games with faculty and alumni, forging a connection that would shape her future. A chance encounter with the founder of Team USA Beach Korfball during one of these games opened a door to a new chapter in her life. Lariel, initially unfamiliar with the sport, tried beach korfball for the first time in March 2023 and is now residing in Lisbon, Portugal, training daily with a Portuguese indoor korfball team.
Reflecting on her whirlwind journey, Lariel expresses gratitude for the opportunities korfball has brought into her life. Having overcome a high school ACL injury that dashed her college sports dreams, korfball has allowed her to play at a high level once again. In just nine months, she has represented Team USA, winning bronze in the Asian World Cup in Thailand, and played in Poland for the European World Cup. The USA team will compete in the upcoming World Beach Korfball Championships in Thailand in April 2024, holding the prospect of earning a place at the World Games in China in 2025. As the indoor korfball team is being revived in the U.S., she hopes to bring her knowledge and skills to that team in the near future.
After training for a few of months in Portugal, Lariel was presented with the opportunity to play on the Philippines korfball team during the World Korfball Championships in Taiwan last October. She has since taken on a coaching role with the team, contributing to the development of the Philippines korfball team. Her involvement will include player selection, monthly courses, and leadership of training camps in preparation for tournaments in Asia in 2024.
Korfball, with its Dutch origins, sets itself apart as the only mixed-gender sport. Lariel passionately describes it as a beautiful and collaborative game, highlighting its unique dynamics that mirror societal collaboration and understanding.
Lariel is the founder of Mateo Tutoring, an educational tutoring business based in Stockton, which she manages remotely while in Portugal. The business emerged during the COVID pandemic, and employs numerous University of the Pacific students. Her commitment to both her career and korfball training reflects the lessons of dedication and community she learned during her time at Pacific. The contrast between comfort and challenge, a hallmark of her Pacific experience, continues to shape her resilience and determination. Today, she remains closely connected with her professors, particularly those in the Health and Exercise Sciences department, who played a pivotal role in shaping her career options after graduation.
For those interested in following Lariel's inspiring journey, she can be found on Instagram at @larieljmateo or via the USA Korfball Federation account @uskorfball. Her story serves as a testament to the transformative power of passion, resilience, and the unexpected turns life can take.