De La Salle University has an illustrious legacy, not only in the field of academics, but also in the realm of sports. The school has won over 150 collegiate championships from both the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) and the University Athletics Association of the Philippines (UAAP) and has also produced a handful of nationally-acclaimed sports figures under its program.
Though it is the players who are showered with praises as they reap success, coaches and the important role that they play within a team are often forgotten. They serve as the unquestionable leaders of their teams, they diagram plays to be followed during games, and they always make sure to keep their players in check. In this article, The LaSallian recognizes four coaches whose dedication to their craft has brought La Salle great pride and success over the past few years.
Coach Ramil De Jesus, Women’s Volleyball
One could make a case that coach Ramil de Jesus is La Salle’s most successful coach of all time in any sport. Since joining the DLSU fold in 1999, de Jesus has brought the school’s Women’s Volleyball squad to greater heights, proving it immediately after his arrival.
In his first season at the helm, he gave the Lady Spikers their first UAAP title. After his successful maiden campaign, de Jesus would further add to his list of accolades. He would lead his team to a three-peat four years later, clinching a championship from 2003 to 2005. He would win another championship, again after four years, in 2009. De Jesus would then architect another three-peat from 2011 to 2013, falling short of a fourth straight title after making the finals in the most recent edition of the UAAP Women’s Volleyball tournament.
In his 15 years with the team, de Jesus has won eight UAAP women’s volleyball championships, four PVF National Inter-Collegiate Volleyball Tournament championships, and three Shakey’s V-league titles for a grand total of 15 championships.
Another notable thing about de Jesus is that his success as a coach is not limited to team success. He is also known to develop individual talents well, honing the skills of his players and maximizing their potentials. Under his tutelage, he has produced six Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year awardees. Many of his former stalwarts went on to represent the country on the international stage and some of his former players went on to the pro leagues. De Jesus has truly been a blessing to the DLSU community and will continue to be one in the foreseeable future.
Coach Franz Pumaren, Men’s Basketball
La Salle’s dominance in the UAAP’s major sporting event was never more evident during the stint of Franz Pumaren as head coach of the DLSU Green Archers for 12 seasons, from 1998 to 2009. A former player of La Salle himself during his collegiate career, Pumaren has both the indomitable Animo spirit and the bold green blood that helped him give several triumphant years to DLSU.
He garnered several achievements as the mentor of the Green Archers, among which is the distinction of being the first rookie head coach to win a UAAP Men’s basketball championship, a feat which would later be repeated by coach Juno Sauler in La Salle’s most recent title run in 2013. Also, Pumaren succeeded his first championship with three more as DLSU secured a four-peat from 1998 to 2001. Under his tutelage, the Green Archers would also secure the 2007 title in an upset over the then undefeated UE Red Warriors, which redeemed the title stripped from them in the controversial 2004 season.
With an overall coaching win-loss record of 107-34 in the UAAP along with the number of titles that he won for the Green Archers, Franz Pumaren is DLSU’s winningest basketball coach. He has been duly recognized after being inducted in the De La Salle Alumni Association Sports Hall of Fame, and his name now stands among the others who have brought great honor to the University.
Coach Hans Peter Smit, Football
Coach Hans Smit is a legend in the Lasallian community, having served as the head coach of all the school’s football teams over the past three decades. After a successful collegiate football career with the UP Fighting Maroons, he entered the coaching ranks despite having no prior experience in the field. His first stint was with the then newly established De La Salle Santiago Zobel School football team in 1981, becoming the youngest head coach in Philippine football history in the process. He would also serve as the school’s first athletic director. Smit would win his first championship two years later in 1983.
Smit’s success with the Zobel program prompted the La Salle Brothers to have him handle the head coaching posts of the other La Salle school’s football teams, namely the Green Booters and the Lady Booters of DLSU, and the varsity squad of his alma mater, La Salle Greenhills. His stint with DLSU has resulted in 11 championships so far, three in the men’s division and eight in the women’s division. His eight women’s football titles are the most in UAAP history.
Since his playing days, Smit has been known as a fierce and intense competitor, something he has brought along with him in his coaching career. His trademark toughness and discipline has rubbed off of his players.
“It can be intimidating playing for him but that’s only because he wants to draw out the best in you as a player. We hear the cuss words but most of all we long to hear him say, ‘beauty’ to describe a great play. He’s tough to please so we really long to hear it from him. It makes us complete,” says one of his former players.
Coach Stephen Fernandez, Taekwondo
Another remarkable Lasallian athlete worthy of special recognition is head coach Stephen Fernandez of the DLSU Jins. During his 24-year stay with the Green-and-White squad, Fernandez had amassed championships both as a player and as a mentor. He has had a hand in all of DLSU’s Taekwondo titles totaling nine, six from the men’s division with one being won in the recently concluded UAAP season while the other three came from the women’s division.
Fernandez has possessed the Animo in him since his elementary days at La Salle Green Hills dating back from 1974. Along the way, he not only gave glory to La Salle in the local scene, but also in the international level by winning a bronze medal in the 1992 Olympics held in Barcelona, Spain.
He is currently serving as the Deputy Secretary General of the Philippine Taekwondo Association which aims to bring the country its first Olympic gold in the said sport. The bigger challenge inspires Fernandez to help in gaining accolades for willing and talented Jins outside of DLSU as well as those coming from it. Although giving up primary head coaching duties in DLSU, Fernandez has expressed inclinations in providing guidance to aspiring Lasallians as he still leads taekwondo teams from La Salle Green Hills and De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde.
These four notable head coaches have done just about everything they can to bring honor and fame to the Lasallian community. Through the level of excellence shown in the record-setting feats that each has exhibited and accomplished in their respective field, it is unarguable that they forever changed the standard of Lasallian sports and brought it to even greater heights.