As the lights of the Smart Araneta Coliseum remained dim and just the sounds of bouncing basketballs heard throughout, Eileen Shi was already at the venue, preparing for her day. While being early for a game was nothing new for her, the former Animo Squad member has new challenges facing her in this new endeavor.
Before the game against Adamson University, which was already her tenth game of the season as DLSU’s courtside reporter, the feelings of nerve and anxiety have already died down but were definitely still there. After all, “only” thousands of people would be watching her live on television. For Shi, though, those butterflies have quickly been overcome by the thought that her dream, that she once thought was a long shot, had finally come true.
“I’ve always dreamt of it but I didn’t know talaga,” explains Shi. “Siguro until now, there are still times that I doubt myself ‘cause it’s not really up in my alley. Like I’m not into public speaking, I’m not into journalism, like writing and broadcasting. So everything’s new to me.”
Adding to that the fact that this is her last year in school, Shi wanted to make sure that she left Taft with no regrets and all opportunities taken advantage of.
She says, “I was so immersed in the UAAP [because of the Animo Squad] and then I felt like before I graduated, I should try out [for the CSR job]. I remember Billie Capistrano (former DLSU CSR) was telling me you won’t lose anything naman if you try diba.”
Entering the job, Shi already believed that the job entailed the highest of expectations. 10 games in, however, she remains challenged by the very core of her new job.
“I write my reports on the spot, I memorize it right before. Like during the game, I write it on the spot. It’s really the most hectic part,” elaborates Shi on what she believes is the most difficult part of courtside reporting.
In line with that, Shi also has to remember that not only avid basketball fans are watching her but most of the Lasallian community as well. With that in mind, every report has to be the perfect balance for both sets of fans to appreciate what she has to say every time she is on camera. She says, “I want my report, as much as possible, to be as conversational as it can possibly get. You just really have to come up with something intellectual to say, something informative, something people will look forward to.”
Aside from the players really helping her understand basketball jargon and the other intricacies of the sport, Shi also commends the help given by the team’s physical therapists, Marco Villanueva and Teddy Fabian, who help her with her reports throughout every game. Recently, she needed their help as she tackled a new challenge, her first La Salle-Ateneo game. “The drums are louder, people are more rowdy, and like you can hear them cheering and my attention span is so short,” Shi explains how that game was a totally different experience.
While she kept the fact that she applied for the job to herself, she says that everyone, from her friends and family, has been more than willing to help and have been very supportive so far. Even her father, who she says did not give her much feedback regarding her performances as a cheerleader, has become one of her biggest fans. With this being said, though, Shi laughingly says that her dad has also become her biggest critic, “Like the last time I went home, he was like ‘ang bagal ng report mo,’ I’m not satisfied with it, which was really a shock for me. So more or less, it’s also becoming our bonding all in all ‘cause he’s the one who really tells me what he feels about the report.”
Aside from her family, former DLSU CSRs and the current crop of UAAP CSRs have all emerged as pillars Shi can lean on when she is in need of help or advice. Capistrano, Jeanine Tsoi, and Bea Escudero have all told the new CSR that they are all just a message away if she ever needs tips or advice regarding anything with the job.
Particularly, however, in this batch of CSRs, Shi says that she has become very close to FEU’s CSR, Sydney Crespo. Together, they try to help the other become the best reporter they can possibly be. “She watches my report and she texts me and makes it a point to give me positive and negative feedback,” Shi says of Crespo. “We do this to help each other improve.”
Making a mark
While she does miss the Animo Squad, she feels it is now her time to leave her mark on another aspect of DLSU sports. “The pep squad will always be number one, they are like my family,” she says. “Sometimes, though, you just really need to let go of some things diba especially towards another goal.”
Just because she has achieved her goal, however, does not mean it ends there. For Shi, she hopes to use this platform to inspire others to pursue their goals too, “Even if they think that it’s not for them, even if they’re not totally pursuing something up in their alley, as long as they exert effort and as long as they stay dedicated then they can achieve something.”
In the end, Eileen Shi says she is just like every person in the Lasallian community, a fan and supporter of the Green-and-White. For her, it just so happens that she is on TV.