Team unity and confidence in one another have been the ongoing themes when describing the DLSU Tracksters. This kind of team culture has proven to be effective in bringing out nothing but the best from each member of the team, while also improving the overall team chemistry. Their improved performance last season can attest to this as both the men’s and women’s team fared much better than in UAAP Season 76.
From a fourth-place finish back in Season 76, the Green Tracksters were able to improve to second place, while the Lady Tracksters were able to improve on their fifth-place standing by moving up to fourth place. This season, both teams aim to continue building on their recent success, with championship aspirations in mind.
Getting back on track
The off-season has been a long and busy time for both teams. Lady Tracksters team captain Shaira Hernandez explains what the team went through during the nine-month layoff, saying, “We trained for almost nine months. We started last June… Actually, we started way before that because we played for National Opens.”
Green Tracksters team captain Andre Valenzuela added, “We trained every day, Monday to Friday, and we participated in what we call PATAFA (Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association), which is a weekly competition to get us tuned up and ready for the game.”
According to him, it covers all events involved in track and field, making the team’s participation beneficial for them. In spite of this, the extended off-season brought up some concerns that included the possibility of being burned out considering the new pace and length of their training during this unique period.
“We don’t want ourselves to fall when it’s playing season,” Hernandez added, as she explained their situation.
Valenzuela also mentioned that the long period was a big change that the team had to adjust to, pointing out that there were moments when the team also went through a relaxed pace because of having more time to prepare for the season.
Both teams experienced a number of changes in personnel as well during the off-season. One of these changes was in the coaching staff, which led to some modifications in the team’s training program.
“Our training is a bit different now, said Valenzuela. “It [became] a bit smarter and our coach really changed a lot of stuff in the program.”
Aside from this, both teams were able to recruit some of the top players that competed in the Palarong Pambansa, such as Elrica Guro and Melissa Escoton. Though they are in the process of adjusting to the team’s training program, both captains are pleased with their progress so far.
“I am proud of them. They have survived their first year… as of now naman they are doing well and we are expecting them to perform well,” commented Hernandez.
Valenzuela shares the sentiment as well for his rookies, saying, “For my rookies, they are pretty cool and amazing… They surpassed all the challenges that were placed on them during trainings and they are really persevering. They really work hard in academics and also in training.”
On the down side, several players in the men’s team are set to graduate. According to Valenzuela, the departure of their seniors will truly be a big loss for them because of the impact they have had on the team. However, he sees this as an opportunity for the other members of the team to step up.
“They have been the kuyas and big influencers of the team. When we were down, they would be the ones who would give us advice and tips. Ang hirap talaga pag wala yung mga kuya mo,” said Valenzuela.
Two other challenges that the DLSU Tracksters will have to face this season are the departure of some key players in both teams and the lack of players in the women’s team. Come this season, the women’s team will only have 11 players available to field in all the events due to some technicalities and health issues.
“We need to double, double our effort, double our time to play para we can fill up those lacking events that we can’t participate [in],” Hernandez said in response to the issue. “Especially me, as captain, I try to encourage my other teammates na to try to do their best even though na hindi nila specialty events they still try para malay mo magkapoints diba?”
In spite of the many challenges during the off-season, both captains approach this upcoming season with an optimistic and confident outlook. According to both of them, they feel as if the team is more hungry and united this year and because of that, they know that they can achieve great things this season with the help of one another.
“Our bond is really strong. I see the confidence in our team that we believe in our capabilities na we don’t think na we’re going to lose… We really believe we can do it,” said Valenzuela.