In the adrenaline-filled sport of pole vaulting, courage will determine one’s success. AJ Francisco and Adel Valdecanas, both veteran pole-vaulters of the DLSU Athletics team, spread contagious happiness to their team to scale them to new heights.
Anne Janelle Francisco (III, ECE) and Francesco Adel Valdecanas (III, BS-FIN) are two of the six pole vaulters in La Salle’s UAAP team. In their sport, athletes must have a positive attitude in order to soar over the high bars which they have to conquer. “We’re the craziest sa team because we’re the most hyper people,” shares Valdecanas.
The two not only encourage themselves with their feel-good approach, but also spike up the entire team’s morale in practice and in competition. “Kailangan good vibes or else we will get scared and di kami makakajump,” Francisco explains.
“The technique is difficult actually because one small mistake can cause you a failed jump and you only have three tries, so it’s really a big deal,” Francisco clarifies. “Mostly fear and hesitation, because to be able to jump up to four meters, it takes a lot of courage and if fear really strikes you, you really have to overcome that,” Valdecanas explains.
Self-confessed number-geeks, the two also act as the ate and kuya to the rookie-laden team. The duo demonstrates to the younger members of the squad how to do proper warm-ups and the correct training regimen. They also strive to attend all training sessions and they give advice to the rookies also on school-related matters such as enrollment and even Happy Thursdays. In addition, Valdecanas spares some time to tutor teammates in their accounting and finance subjects.
The two started their playing careers in another sport though. Francisco, alumnae from Makati Hope Christian School, played varsity volleyball since first year high school then switched sports in college. When asked about her love for the sport, she says, “It’s unique eh. Not much can pole vault, like us in the UAAP [team] we’re just six but in other events there’s 20 of them.” Francisco has only been exposed to pole vault for a little over one and a half years and she hopes to surpass her personal best of 2.2 meters in the near future.
On the other hand, the more experienced Valdecanas started playing sports as a middle-distance runner in La Salle Greenhills, but after a while he felt that the sport was not for him so he tried pole-vaulting out of curiosity. He has since been in love with the sport since his days in grade seven. “I like it because it’s the closest to flying, so when you’re up there it feels really good and it’s something that’s fresh,” he shares. The 20-year-old was awarded the gold medal in last year’s UniGames and claimed the silver in last year’s edition of the UAAP. He also broke several junior national records, but credited his participation in the Asian Junior games as his greatest achievement so far.
The two not only have time-consuming trainings early in the morning, but they also balance their time with academics and extracurricular activities. They say they have mastered time-management as Valdecanas is also the Vice President for Finance in AIESEC and Francisco is the owner of a small cupcake business called “Tiny Bakeshop”.
The energetic Francisco and Valdecanas make the most out of their tenure with the team as they are unsure if they will be able to still practice the sport that they love after they graduate. The time needed plus the limited facilities and equipment add to the difficulties in pursuing the sport out of school. However, the two will continue supporting the sport and are forever thankful for the opportunity of playing it.