As the UAAP Season 77 Fencing tournament fast approaches, heavy preparation has started to kick in for both the DLSU Fencers, who are looking to build on last year’s resilient performance. The Green Fencers and Lady Fencers finished off UAAP Season 76 at second and fifth place overall, respectively.
UAAP Season 76 proved to be a learning experience for both teams. After falling short to the powerhouse contender UE Red Warriors, the Green Fencers were forced to settle for second place despite the valiant efforts of the team. Team captain and national team member Rayd Orozco recounts the events of last year saying, “Last season was the most unexpected season kasi yung mga hindi expected na mag-medal, sila pa ang nagkaroon ng medal.”
May Montenegro, a three-year veteran of the Lady Fencers, also gives her thoughts on last season’s performance sharing, “Sa fencing, especially last [season], lahat pwede mangyari, yung mga expected manalo, di nagchampion, yung di expected maguwi ng medal, nakaginto pa. So anything can happen.”
Although unable to bag a championship, the previous season has been a stepping stone for the players and their coaches. “The past season was a wakeup call for the most of us. We learned [from] our mistakes, we practiced the things we were unable to do, and also, we realized that hindi lang sa basketball na-apply [ang] kasabihang, bilog ang bola,” Montenegro adds.
The Lady Fencers are also suffering from the departure of top-player Geisha De Leon who has been winning medals for the DLSU squad in the past seasons.
Change of strategy
Compared to their preparation last season, the Fencers are looking to step it up a notch when it comes to training and exposure. Motenegro explains that she and several other players have been participating in various international and local tournaments and that their training schedules have doubled since then.
“[We’ve been having] extra training and competitions, yung way namin para macondition yung sarili namin for UAAP 77,” she says.
Experience also comes into play for the Fencers with holdovers from the previous seasons remaining on the roster. Establishing their roles as the veterans on the team are Orozco and Montenegro, who have had their fair share of experiences in the UAAP.
“Encouraging a teammate to do better inside and outside fencing and helping them establish self-confidence, and team-confidence are some of the things the seniors do to help their teammates adjust to the student-athlete life,” Montenegro adds.
Proper guidance is generously invested into the team as well with Orozco playing for the National Team and La Salle’s coaches joining him from the sidelines. “Hindi parin naman nawawala yung goal ko to inspire and somehow lead my team para mag-train hard for the UAAP season,” Orozco, last season’s gold and silver medalist, explains.
Respected fencing coaches Ramil Endriano, Gian Carlo Nocom, and Almario Vizcayno are on-point towards shaping the team’s character and work ethics especially with the UAAP around the corner.
The Fencers are preparing to face other competing universities this coming season, including perennial contender UE. UAAP Season 76 saw the UE conquer both the men’s and women’s divisions in convincing fashion.
Looking to capitalize
Team captain Orozco points out the main weakness of his team as well as what needs to be done in order to capitalize on their strategy as he shares, “I have been reiterating na yung laging tumatalo sa team namin is [ang] pagiging kabado, it has always been the struggle for the men’s and women’s team. [Even] if you’re part of the national team and yung level ng kaalaman mo sa fencing, kung sobrang galing [mo] talaga, pero pag kinakabahan ka, na-overpower yan ng kaba.”.
“Of course the only key is talagang maniwala kasi walang pressure sa amin [since] we’re the underdogs and somehow magamit namin ito to our advantage,” Orozco adds.
The DLSU Fencers assure Lasallians to expect significant changes this coming season as Montenegro adds, “One can expect bolder Fencers this year. Lalaban kami. Which is why we believe na kaya namin bumalik at hopefully mas mahigitan pa namin yung kung ano man yung naachieve ng team before.
“Ang mindset ko, gusto ko makabawi. At maipakita yung mga pinaghirapan namin. Kaya namin eh, tiwala and tiyaga lang talaga,” Montenegro concludes.