OpinionThe house that Smit built
The house that Smit built
November 5, 2010
November 5, 2010

Well it’s not even a house to begin with. It certainly doesn’t have a roof, which is why patches of grass have been indifferently washed away by time like an old man’s receding hairline.

It most certainly doesn’t have a name. It’s simply called “the football field.”

No walls either; only a several-meters high fence, which goes around and protects it. From whom? From agents of change? Well if that is indeed the purpose of that fence, then it has failed. The years have gone by and the field is going with it.

Is it just a huge strip of land, nothing but blades of grass that are diminishing in number?

Then again, it’s more than just a piece of land.

Those blades of grass have been trodden by the boot-heels of many an ROTC cadet.

Those blades of grass have been mangled by the foot of many a student (either a Booter burning the hours by perfecting Coach Hans Smit’s orders or an FWSPORT student trying to learn the ropes of the world’s most popular sport).

It has borne witness to many University Fairs and concerts. You know it’s a big event when you see a Ferris wheel pin-wheeling in the middle of the bustling Taft Avenue, and that ride can’t be placed anywhere else in La Salle. It’s quite hard to believe a Ferris wheel could fit in there, but it does.

The football field is where you take a shortcut from building to building to avoid traversing the swarm of humanity on the St. Joseph Walk. Being able to walk in it is somewhere on the short list of the things you want to do before you graduate. You see it as often as you see your college barkada, so much that its presence has seemingly been taken for granted.

Even the sea of sweaty people packed in an LRT train will find their gaze drawn to that small oasis of green whose backdrop are the neo-classical buildings that have become the trademark of  La Salle, yet all these structures pale in comparison to the field’s history.

The memories of the teams of the sport, which La Salle had dominated when it was still in the NCAA, lie there; each of them en route to their multiple unblemished records: their unprecedented nine-peat (I don’t know if any witticism could be attached to a nine-peat).

Even in the UAAP where the Men’s team has three crowns and the Women’s five, the tradition of superiority has been seamlessly passed on (although the Men’s team has been in quest for gold for quite some time now).

No one said that the teams who practice on The Football Field would never find a training ground as good as that field. For all we know, maybe the plans that the University has set for these squads (including the baseball and softball teams) may turn out to be better than the old field, but the field is like an unseen friend which the athletes and students have had since time immemorial.

It had nobly served generations of students and athletes for many years. It also goes without saying that saying goodbye to a friend is never easy.

Last Oct. 1 was that day. Shirts with the words “No Field” (in reference to the popular clothing brand) on them sold like pancakes.  Turfs of the field were sold to alumni for the benefit of the One La Salle Scholarship Fund for P1,000 although I swear anyone could just sneak in and scoop up a little of that time-honored dirt.

Bands like Rocksteddy, Updharmadown and The Dawn were there to combat the blues of a rainy Friday night (Rocksteddy frontman Teddy bellowing in the mic, “Wala nang John Mayer!!!” being a personal highlight of the night.)

The football field may not be as well-known as her vuvuzela-plagued relatives in South Africa, but she is nevertheless a faithful friend. Whether it’s the sound of Coach Hans Smit saying sweet nothings to his talented wards during their early morning grind or taking that shortcut away from the sea of students crammed at SJ Walk, the field will be missed.

Besides, God knows where they’d place that Ferris wheel in the next University Fair.