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Female Scholar-Athlete: U. Merion’s Mateja plays to music of the English language

Friday, 3rd April 2009

Categories Girl's/Women's, High School  

By Bridget Letukas, Posted 4/3/09

Next fall, Upper Merion senior goalie Lauren Mateja, having been accepted into its Honors Program, will step onto the campus of Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., eager to study English.

After spending her freshman year thinking she would study psychology and her sophomore year intent on studying biology, the musically and literally-inclined Mateja settled in on the field of English by her junior year. She hasn’t looked back since.

“It’s a long process to try to decide your major,” she says.  She credits a devoted teacher and the “brilliant” works of literature for helping her to find her passion.  “I fell in love with the language.”

English isn’t the only passion for Mateja, the Longstreth Female Scholar-Athlete of the Week. She began playing the viola in seventh grade and now serves as the section leader and orchestra librarian at her high school.

The diverse Mateja is able to find the words to connect the two disciplines.

“Comparing English to athletics, everything just has to come in sync for everything to make sense,” said Mateja, a member of the National Honor Society and the National Spanish Honor Society.

On the field, Mateja and her Viking teammates seem to making a lot of sense these days as they seek to improve on last year’s 5-12 record.  Mateja cites a skull session during which the team listed 10 goals for the season as the catalyst for their current winning record of 3-2.

More importantly, from the meeting, emerged an all-important team motto.  Mateja summarizes it in plain English: “It’s not the mistake, it’s what you do after it.”

Recently, the quote helped inspire the team to a “huge” 6-5 victory over Plymouth Whitemarsh.

However, Mateja, who recently wrapped up participation in the high school production of “Hello, Dolly!” just two weeks ago, thinks the saying has greater meaning than just a missed shot or a sloppy pass.

The honors student, who names her two siblings as her greatest models of inspiration, easily applies the team’s motivating literary phrase to life.

“You can’t take an eraser to the past,” she said. “You live your life not worrying about the past.  You have to look forward.”

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