From practicing in the pools of Southern California to working sock drives for migrants at the southern border of Mexico and Guatemala, Diana Carballo, junior captain of the Marist Women’s Water Polo team, has existed as as both a standout athlete and a budding catalyst to a worldly social movement.
As a political science and history double major with a concentration in international relations, Diana of Mexico City, Mexico, plans to utilize her experience as an international student and water polo athlete to work with using sports as an agent for social movement in developing countries. Diana spent her senior year in high school as an exchange student in Orange County, California, and was recruited by former Marist coach, Natalie Benson. She has now established herself as a water polo standout well beyond the college level.
Diana joined the Mexican National Team as a starting defender in 2011, with her team winning Nationals twice. With winning 4th place in Junior Pan American Games in Montreal, partaking in the Central American Games in Puerto Rico with the Mexican Junior National Team, and going to Barcelona for a preparation tournament for the Toronto 2015 Pan Ams with the Senior National Team, she has established herself as a nationally regarded athlete, with her accomplishments allowing her to gain a constant national scope of the sport.
Diana is the direct product of a sports-driven, gender equalizing social movement, as she was a part of the first generation of women to ever play water polo in Mexico. As there were only established men’s teams when she began playing at the age of eight, she spent her early career playing on a boys team.
With two sisters, 24 and 17, and one brother, 22, who all play water polo, Diana and her family are deeply rooted to the sport, but she sought to contribute as a reactionary to social movements with her realization of her worldly exposure thus far. “I knew that I wanted to pursue sports as my family did, but I wanted to be different,” she said.
Olympic sports were not introduced on the national level or actively promoted in schools until Mexico began the democratization process in 2000. This led to Diana’s inherent passion for integrating sports as a driving force to create social movement. It was a direct product of her experience with being an active component to the advancement of Mexico’s engagement in national sports.
As the Mexican government removed a lot of the implemented policies in 2012, many of the national tournaments and sports promotion concepts within schools were cut. As the Mexican government removed a lot of the implemented policies in 2012, many of the national tournaments and sports promotion concepts within schools were cut. “It was really sad, and since then sports in Mexico have been declining," she said.
Diana plans to play water polo professionally post-graduation in either Italy or Spain for a few years, but ultimately plans to work in sports and politics with an international Olympic committee or with the UN’s Agency of Sport for Development and Peace.“I want to help use sports in developing countries,” she said. “The power of sports is so amazing—it has taken me to so many places.”
With firsthand experience with having friends living in poverty in Mexico City, Diana will utilize her background in creating a positive lifestyle through sports to circulate ideas of social advancements in developing countries within her professional life. “Interest can be found in sports, and you can incentivise young people to have a healthy lifestyle,” she said. “It can develop an entire community.”
Her Mexican culture and background has driven her passion for working with migrants and indigenous people as well, and she has worked in migrant shelters at the southern border of Mexico. She began working with Mexico’s Amnesty International in high school, as she worked on social justice campaigns and petitioning the government for the rights of migrants and indigenous groups.
“I’ve always been part of small institutions back home, and Marist is a small school and water polo is a small community; sometimes I need more,” said Diana, addressing her will to break through campus confinement with bringing worldly acknowledgement to not only the Marist campus, but the rest of the world.
Being fluent in Spanish, German and English, Diana works as a tutor in Marist’s Language Center and leads their weekly World Watch event, where students meet and have discussions about what is going on in the world in different languages. She is also proficient in French.
Diana emphasizes general mindfulness of worldly circumstances and the vitality of incorporating realization and will to help in everyday life, which she acknowledges can be difficult in a small campus environment. “We live in a beautiful place, but it is not like this everywhere, and we should always be mindful of what other people are struggling with,” she said. “We can do so much more in our community, our county and the world.”