It has always been sweet to emerge as the victor in any competition. What makes it much sweeter though are the stories and the struggles that precede the end result. The players reap the immediate fruits of being named champions but what is usually lost in the celebration are the people behind the success achieved. Sure, the hard work and dedication of the players play a major role, however, it is as vital as the role played by coaches. For the DLSU Jins, the man behind the glory, as well as the shortcomings, is head coach Roberto Cruz.
Just a regular fellow compared to the likes of other DLSU coaches such as Juno Sauler (Green Archers) and Ramil De Jesus (Lady Spikers), who are widely recognized due to the popularity of the teams that they handle, it does not mean that he isn’t as decorated as the two when it comes to getting the job done.
Boasting a championship both as a mentor for the DLSU Green Jins, who are currently defending their UAAP title, and the DLSU Lady Jins, who finished second last season but were champions two years ago, Cruz is beyond qualified as a head coach.
It seems that the love for taekwondo runs in his family with, Cruz learning the sport at a young age. As almost all of his family members are adept in the martial art, Cruz eventually took the sport seriously as well. Furthermore, Cruz shares that the gym where he used to practice as a kid was just beside his house, providing him with an easy avenue to hone his skills.
“Sa family kasi eh, yung first generation ng taekwondo sa Philippines are my cousins so yung gym din kasi katabi lang nung bahay namin. Yun yung start ko. since 1984 ako nagstart,” explains Cruz on how he started as a taekwondo enthusiast.
A graduate of Colegio de San Juan de Letran with a bachelor’s degree in Management, Cruz never lost his love for taekwondo. Having participated in international events such as the SEA Games, World Championships, World Cup, and the Asian championship, he has brought home medals from all of these tournaments, a testament to how dedicated and skilled he is is in the field of Taekwondo.
His stint with La Salle began when former head coach, Stephen Fernandez offered him the coaching job. He mentioned that Fernandez was one of his teammates back when he was still joining competitions. “I said ‘yes sir!’. I couldn’t say no,” exclaimed Cruz with a smile, saying that a coaching job in La Salle was an offer that he simply could not refuse.
Cruz started coaching La Salle back in 2002 as an assistant coach, contributing highly to the squad’s achievements during UAAP Season 73 when the Green Jins grabbed first place and in UAAP Season 75 when the Lady Jins won gold.
As a head coach, Coach Cruz did not disappoint. In his debut as head coach in UAAP Season 76, Cruz led the Green Jins to a first place finish. Moreover, Cruz’s teachings led to Green Jin Kevin Sia being named the MVP of the season.
Looking ahead with the tournament just around the corner, Cruz gathers his team just as a general would before the impending battle. Victory or otherwise, what matters most to Cruz is that the effort is there from his players.
“I hope [that in] this UAAP [season], basta bigay lang nila yung best nila, mga pinaghirapan nila during training, ilabas nila, yun naman lahat eh, yung pinaghirapan mo, makikita mo yung bunga,” he shares, and what could be sweeter than that?
The DLSU Lady Jins finished second in UAAP Season 77 while the DLSU Green Jins slid to fourth. Read our recap at http://thelasallian.com/2014/09/20/uaap-lady-jins-clinch-2nd-green-jins-fall-to-fourth-poomsae-climbs-to-second/