Winning three UAAP General Championships since Academic Year 2012-2013 is a testament to the ability of the DLSU’s Office of Sports Development (OSD) to carve a culture of excellence as one of the most sought after sports programs in the country. Behind this success is its recruitment program. One of the general features of the OSD, the recruitment and selection process of varsity teams is intended to attract and provide an opportunity for student athletes to compete in their respective sports in the UAAP.
In order to provide a more in-depth look into the program, OSD Director Emmanuel Calanog talks about the aspects and challenges behind athletics recruitment in DLSU.
No direct grassroots recruitment
One of the fixtures of all UAAP member universities are its direct feeder schools with which to ideally recruit their athletes. As early as high school and at times in the elementary level, these schools may identify promising young talent to be trained at the grassroots level. However, for DLSU, this “luxury” of preparing homegrown talents for the University ranks is, in one way, deterred.
Despite having De La Salle Zobel as its junior team, the OSD has no direct control of its training program due to issues in proximity. As Calanog mentions, “Although we have La Salle schools around the country, we’re different from our other UAAP member schools in a sense that we do not have a direct elementary and high school. We are not in control of the development program of these schools. We technically rely on recruitment to be able to fill the needs of our varsity teams.”
For student athletes to be considered a viable candidate for the athletics recruitment program, they must meet the general requirements stated by OSD found in the official website of DLSU. Using computer-generated information categorized according to the year of graduation and the specific position of an athlete in the team, a four-year high school varsity strength projection is generated. This information comes from the various needs assessments of system-member institutions and feeder schools associated with OSD.
Additionally, once athletes are qualified from the projection, they are then scheduled to try-out and are preliminarily selected. After this process, they undergo an Entrance Examination for Recruits.
But more than these steps, they must first be recommended by the head coach of their sport. This critical feature in the recruitment process varies across the different varsity teams of the University.
As Calanog states, “[The selection process] depends in as far as the specific requirements of the coaches are concerned,” given that certain sports have different needs and considerations. Simply put, coaches bear the responsibility of building the team and assessing its strengths and weaknesses. With the dilemma of graduating players leaving key roles in the team, the head coach may look to recruitment to fill that void.
A winning attitude
When asked what he looks for in a student athlete, Calanog cited an aspirant’s attitude as the primary factor. “Since DLSU puts a premium in academics, we are looking for athletes who want to study.” Likewise, if an athlete is able to balance his academic requirements, it is under the expectation that he also has the right attitude towards training. As he adds, “They are things that you cannot teach. If they [underperform in those respects], you probably cannot teach them anymore when they come here.”
Apart from the athlete’s attitude towards his studies, Calanog also mentions the consideration of the former’s physical attributes. “In basketball, height is might. If you have a good [height], those are considerations.” Additionally, experience is also a factor for selection.
Benefits of a Lasallian student athlete
Just as academic scholarships are used as motivators for students to apply in a University, athletic scholarships are also seen as a recruitment tool. Further, material provisions given to qualified student athletes also include living accommodations and food allowances.
But apart from these, Calanog also encourages possible recruits by citing the benefits of what a Lasallian education can give. “Being able to finish with a La Salle diploma is something that is intangible. When you graduate, that is an advantage.”
However, although some would be enthused by the academic reputation of DLSU, others would be discouraged by its demands., “Sometimes, we find it difficult to recruit because the perception is [that we are] really strict in academics,” Calanog states. “So [from] the initial contact, there are a number of potential recruits that shy away thinking that our academic program is difficult and they’re afraid that they might not be able to live up or meet the requirements to our academic standards,” he elaborates.
Financial challenges and alumni support
“In as far as financial benefits, we offer the same basic benefits, except that our tuition costs more than other schools.” This reality would thus impact the amount of athletic scholarships the University can provide. Comparing this to other schools, Calanog assesses, “Right now, we are technically only around 40 to 50 percent [in terms of financial assistance that the University provides]. If you compare that aspect, we might be lagging behind in terms of being able to give benefits, and thus it will impact on the number of recruits we can get.”
To add to these challenges, Calanog also noted the limited sports facilities in the University campus as areas of concern for OSD. Even with the recent promising developments in the Science and Technology Complex in Canlubang, these pose logistical concerns for practicing varsity teams.
Despite these constraints, Calanog was quick to mention the unconditional support of Lasallian Alumni, most evident in the flagship sports programs of basketball and volleyball. “The alumni are really our partners because of their experience in La Salle when they were here. They want to give back. We are happy that we are still able to offer benefits to our student athletes because of the help of these alumni and other friends who come to support the program.”
Ultimately, Calanog takes pride in the University’s ability to compete in all sports in the UAAP. “We are only one of four schools in the UAAP who are able to field a full roster of sports [with ADMU, UP, and UST]”.