Every home is a special place. Whether home is in the form of a lavish house or simply on a scenic hilltop, one would need more than his ten fingers to enumerate why for them, home is best. Athletes too have considered home a special place, especially those that have had to leave their homes in order to pursue their chosen sport.
The strength of Lasallian athletes is not only measured in terms of their physical capabilities, but also in terms of their mental and emotional stability. Part of this stability is tested in their being away from home, adjusting to a different culture, or even being independent for the first time.
Undying support from family
Coming from different places and different backgrounds, one of the first challenges that athletes encounter isn’t even on the court; homesickness usually sets in the moment they step in an unfamiliar setting.
Incoming Green Jin Kyle Uy remembered what he felt when he left for Manila saying, “I missed all of my family and my friends in the US, and I really wasn’t used to being without them.”
“It was never easy,” explains fellow Green Jin Keith Sembrano, who hails from Baguio City. “From the very start, day in and day out, the longing for the presence of my family was always present.”
Hailing all the way from Kawit, Cavite, second year DLSU Dragonboat team member Myche Foz also shares her gloom towards her transfer to Manila saying, “The fact that I have no one to talk to when I am alone gives me separation anxiety.”
Among other things, family plays a crucial role in every athlete’s success. Family is there to cheer them on in their games. Family is there in every euphoric victory and gut-wrenching defeat. In the movie Cheaper by the Dozen, Steve Martin calls his huge family his “support system,” perhaps that sums the value of family. Through thick and thin, they are always there to give athletes the confidence and assurance to excel in their chosen sport.
“It was my family members who actually molded me to play hard and work hard from the very beginning to achieve [my] goals,” Sembrano proudly says.
Every year, Lasallian freshmen can attest to the culture shock that Taft life can bring upon them on the day they first enter the hallowed halls of DLSU. Perhaps even after their “frosh days”, they can even say that Taft Avenue is the localized version of New York City, a city “that never sleeps”.
As early as six in the morning, drivers of both cars and other public vehicles honk their horns to no end, giving Taft Avenue that distinct sound in the morning. The hustle and bustle of the LRT trains brings in countless people to the area every five minutes or so, a testament to how busy Taft Avenue really is. Pedicabs and pedestrians zigzag their way across the street, creating confusion amongst speeding cars and other vehicles. A day in Taft doesn’t end with the culmination of the nine o’clock classes as restaurants and bars come alive during this point.
“Growing up in the mountains of Baguio City was very much different from the lowlands especially in Manila. I was “culture shocked” back then.”, says Sembrano as he recalls his first year in DLSU.
But living in Taft avenue does not only mean coping with the demands of its night life, but also the responsibilities of early adulthood. “Another [challenge] is being independent. From the moment of separation, I knew that I had to stand on my own feet”, he adds.
“It was definitely not easy because for the first time in my life, I learned how to practice and do everything I used to not pay attention to, like doing the house chores”, Foz says.
The famous line, “No man is an island” by english poet John Donne exemplifies the condition of Lasallian athletes. Companions in the form of teammates and classmates help them fill up the gaping hole that loneliness brings.
“My friends and classmates are always there to keep me company when I need them.”, Foz adds. “On the other hand, my teammates are usually the ones who help me cope with everything else because we experience hardships together when we train, sometimes we even have classes together.”
“I’m happy to say that my classmates were all very welcoming to me so the adjustment into the university wasn’t really difficult because my classmates made it easy for me to settle in”, Uy adds.
Despite the congestion of Taft Avenue, Lasallians, more so residing athletes have come to see Taft as some sort of haven for them. From the guards that assist along pedestrians to the people in school, a sense of belongingness and shelter comes to mind, just like home.
“My new friends and teammates are great and I’ve really enjoyed the time that I’ve spent here so far”, Uy says. “I know that even after I graduate and go back to the US that I will come back and visit the Philippines”, he adds.
“DLSU will always be my home away from home”, says Sembrano. “I will always be grateful for the people from DLSU who guided, supported, and stayed with me in my journey,” Sembrano shares.
Despite the challenges that being away from home can provide, it still gives athletes the heart and inspiration to focus on their craft. No matter the number of miles that may separate them from their family and their homes, they understand that the work they put in the gym is all for them.
“I want to make sure to always remain diligent and focused both in my studies and my training so I can represent La Salle well on and off the court,” Uy says.
“I really wanted to bring glory to my hometown as a sign of gratitude that became my inspiration to do my very best each time I compete,” Sembrano confidently adds.