After weeks and weeks of tryouts and rigorous screenings comes one of the toughest jobs that every coach has to do—making the final lineup for a team. It is at this moment that people will initially know whether a recruit is the real deal or a flop.
De La Salle University, as many people know, has one of the most sought after sports programs in the country today. It attracts a wide range of players that differ in their background, playing style, or even nationality and heritage.
Over the years, however, there has been a certain trend when it comes to selecting players for some teams. Some of DLSU’s teams today have a surplus of players coming from a certain high school. Could this be a product of the successful sports programs of these high schools or is it merely a coincidence?
To answer this, The LaSallian sat down with two teams who are examples of this trend, namely the DLSU Men’s Baseball and Men’s Football teams. Currently, the Green Batters have seven players from De La Salle-Santiago-Zobel School, while the Men’s Football team has six players from PAREF Southridge School.
The Junior Archers
Being directly linked to DLSU, it is no surprise that De La Salle-Zobel is one of the schools where the University gets most of its recruits across all sports. Given DLSZ’s ties to the University, it goes without saying that it has become a breeding ground for DLSU athletes. Over the few past years, the Zobel population in the DLSU Men’s Baseball team has been growing and has reached eight players this year, the highest number of alumni from one high school on the current roster. The Zobel alumni on the roster are Carlos Muñoz, Andrei Palacios, Jose Francisco Castro, Franco Hashimoto, Paul Naguit, Paolo Salud, and Stewart Park.
According to head coach Joseph Orillana, the reason behind this surplus of players from Zobel is their sports program. “Maganda yung programa dun sa Zobel kaya instead na kumuha kami ng mga players from [the] province, sa Zobel nalang kasi since nandun na rin yung mga contender dun sa level ng high school nila, dun na rin kami kumukuha ng player,” says Orillana.
Aside from this, Orillana commends them for their training ethics and how they are not having a difficult time with their studies. He admits that he has yet to experience difficulty working with them and that they have the utmost respect for him as a coach. “Coachable naman sila at yung respect sa coach nandun rin. Wala ng problema,” says Orillana.
The number of DLSZ alumni on the team have definitely made an impact on how the team plays as a unit. According to the four-year veteran Muñoz, their presence on the team has made it much easier for them to play in sync with each other. Muñoz talks about how their chemistry on and off the field have helped them form a stronger bond with the team saying, “We’re really bonded. We hang out a lot even off the field. We are a good group of friends.”
What made it easier for them to play with each other is that sense of familiarity among them. “We know each other more and we’re used to how we react in games and in practice. We know how to react and talk to each other better,” says Muñoz. When asked what the Zobel alumni bring to the team, he responded by saying, “I think we all brought our winning attitude and our chemistry together. It really helped build the team on and off the field.”
The boys from the south
It may come as a surprise to some people to find out that the high school with the most alumni players in the DLSU Men’s Football team is PAREF Southridge School rather than DLSZ or La Salle Greenhills.
According to Gregory Yang, a Southridge alumnus currently playing in his fourth year for DLSU, this trend only started a few years ago. “When I was a rookie, there were still maybe five or six people from Zobel in the team and the number went down from there,” says Yang. Other Southridge alumni on the roster are current co-captain Matthew Nierras, Nathan Alquiros, Inigo Gonzales, Tonichi Bonoan, and Rigo Joseph.
According to Yang, the top two choices for Southridge alumni are La Salle and Ateneo, and aside from the quality of the education or the sports program, friends have been a factor in deciding which team to play for. “When you see people from your high school that you used to play with, and everything [you need is] already in one team, and [since] La Salle in itself is a good university, it’s a big factor in deciding where you’re going to go for college if you see familiar people,” says Yang.
La Salle’s veteran defender Nierras shares his experience witnessing more and more fellow alumni from Southridge enter the team saying, “It’s not really a coincidence, it kind of just happened…When coach announced the final lineup, we realized that I think six of us [got in].”
When asked whether there is a distinctive quality that Southridge players have, Nierras responded by saying, “Not really. I think it’s really just a common thing between everyone. Everyone is just really in it for the love of the game and football is a team sport…we as a team have the same mentality like we always want to work hard and win.”
In a team sport like football, having several players from the same high school is an advantage since familiarity and team chemistry is an essential part of the game.
Yang talks about how the strong bond found among the Southridge boys have helped one another play with each other, saying, “On the field, we’re all built in the same way. I mean we had our little clubs in high school also, but then for a majority of the year, you’re playing the same system so we’re in a different system all-in-all in La Salle. When we’re playing with each other, we still, you might say, [have] a throwback on how we used to play [in high school],” says Yang.
For Nierras, the team this year, even with a lot of Southridge alumni, is really balanced. “We always kind of balance each other out even with the other players, not just the Southridge guys, especially this team this year. This is probably one of the best teams I’ve played with, so in that sense it’s not just Southridge guys, but it’s everyone, like they bring something to the team,” says Nierras.
When asked about what their group has brought to the team, Yang replies by saying, “Leadership. I think that none of us Southridge boys are afraid to speak up when it’s needed…not to overpower others but then to be able to compromise and to get the best out of each other.”
Nierras shares, “A different drive to like always work harder and improve ourselves… it’s important to have those players who really bring up the level of play higher and just push the team to become champions in the end.”
Would you say that it was by fate or chance that these players are together once again, this time to don the Green-and-White of DLSU? It might be a bit of both, because in the end, it is still the players who have the last say. There is no telling which school will become the next top supplier of athletes for La Salle’s sports teams in the future.