The list of graduating students from Neelin high school going on to continue their athletic careers at post-secondary institutions just keeps on growing with Courtney Matienzo joining the bumper crop.
The 18-year-old Brandonite is heading south of the border to play softball with the Mayville State University Comets. Although she played basketball, badminton and softball with the Spartans, Matienzo decided she wanted to stay on the diamond and it didn’t take long for her to fall in love with the campus in Mayville, N.D.
"Right when I got there, it was exactly like Neelin, same atmosphere and small," she said. "The coach was really nice and everyone was kind of the same."
Mayville State is a school with about 1,000 students and has a softball team that struggled last season. The Comets went 2-12 in the NAIA’s North Star conference and 4-24 overall under first-year head coach Ashley VandeVeen, who is Canadian.
Matienzo, however, was impressed with VandeVeen and is looking forward to playing under a different coach. That’s why the 5-foot-5 third baseman, who has been with the Westman Magic since playing under-12 ball, joined the Manitoba Angels this summer, and she’s looking for more advice in the college ranks next season as well.
"Pretty much the experience of being away from home, playing at the university level of sports and playing for different coaches since I’ve had the same for years," she said about why she’s looking forward to going to Mayville State. "She’s a hard coach like (Neelin basketball coach Don) Thomson. Thomson has taught me and if I’m doing something wrong he’ll address it to me and I won’t get emotional about it. I think she’ll be the same kind of coach he is and it will help me be tough."
Matienzo will study applied psychology as a backup plan, but she hopes to join the RCMP in the future.
Matienzo and Jael Unger, a setter who recently committed to join the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference’s Keyano College Huskies women’s volleyball team, join a long list of Spartans heading off to university in the fall to join sports teams, with seven others coming from the school’s varsity girls’ volleyball team.
Spartans who have committed to play CIS women’s volleyball next season include libero Jamie Campbell (Brandon Bobcats), setter Amy Gordon (Mount Royal Cougars), middle Alison Quiring (Trinity Western Spartans), outside hitter Kristine Ward (Regina Cougars), outside hitter Tori Studler (Manitoba Bisons) and left side Emma Ciprick (Dalhousie Tigers), with Paige Thomson (Victoria Vikes) opting to play basketball.
Riley Peyachew has also committed to join the Regina Cougars’ track and field team, while Quinton Hunter has joined the Brandon Bobcats men’s basketball team.