Sunderland’s sports journey in both Mexico and the US

Amanda Morse

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Sports have been a part of senior Diana Sunderland’s life since she was eight years old, and her dedication as an athlete expands outside of the U.S, all the way to her birthplace in Mexico City, Mexico. As a junior, Sunderland moved back to Mexico City where she decided to join a volleyball team.

Before moving to the U.S., Sunderland attended an elementary school in Mexico until eighth grade, when she attended St. Hilary’s school in Tiburon. It was during her eighth-grade year that she first started playing basketball and has been playing throughout high school despite last year in Mexico, where she played volleyball.

Photo courtesy of Diana Sunderland
Hitting a ball back to the opponent, senior Diana Sunderland played volleyball in Mexico and basketball here at Redwood.

When she returned to Mexico this past year, she chose to play volleyball instead of basketball, because it provided her with more opportunities. According to Sunderland, she was able to reconnect with her childhood friends through volleyball, which was a valuable aspect of her experience.

Through the many practices, games and tournaments she attended, Sunderland experienced Mexican culture and was able to view the US culture from a different perspective. Having played basketball in the United States, she saw the clear difference between the high intensity of sports in the Marin County Athletic League (MCAL) and the more spirited energy put into sports in Mexico City.  

“In Mexico, there’s also a lot of cheering. Everyone goes to see you and cheering is a super big deal. Everyone has to go to the games,” Sunderland said.

Enjoying sports is an essential part of Mexican culture. According to Sunderland, those living in Mexico view sports as a valuable way to bring the people of a certain country together.

Similar to the MCAL, Sunderland was able to compete in something known as “Torneo” while living in Mexico. This is a tournament where teams from all around the area compete against one another. After having played two years of high school basketball, she was able to pinpoint the differences. In her eyes, the MCAL is more strictly enforced whereas “Torneo” seems to be a more relaxed environment.

Photo Courtesy of Diana Sunderland
Kneeling with her volleyball team, Sunderland (far left) reconnected with many of her childhood friends through volleyball.

After returning to Redwood at the start of this year, Sunderland decided to continue playing basketball, which she previously did as a freshman and sophomore. Having played volleyball in Mexico, Sunderland was able to learn some key skills that she has brought back to the varsity girls’ basketball team here.

“[I learned] teamwork and how to communicate with your team and to know them also outside of the sport so you can work well together inside the court,” Sunderland said.

According to senior Makayla Lee, who played on the freshman and JV basketball team with Sunderland, Sunderland’s dedication to playing sports helped her transition from athletics in the U.S. to Mexico.

“It’s pretty cool that she continued to play sports in Mexico and was that passionate about her sports… even though it may have been a whole different scenario and way of playing,” Lee said.

Senior varsity basketball teammate Sophia Margulies feels that Sunderland’s experience is one that is unique and allows for athletes to expand on their knowledge of certain sports.

“The ability to compare two different cultures is super cool to experience and also being able to compare the two different sports,” Margulies said. “You grow more as an athlete when you are able to experience the contrasts.”