Reaching the top of the mountain is no easy feat but staying on top of that mountain is an even more difficult task. Only a select few teams have successfully done it and one of these teams is our very own DLSU Lady Paddlers, who won their fourth consecutive title in a span of four seasons.
Behind every successful sports team is a talented athlete who spearheads the team through example, discipline, leadership, and hard work. This person in question is none other than UAAP Season 80 Most Valuable Player Emy Dael. The LaSallian sat down with Dael to reflect on her past season and ask questions pertaining to how she stays humble through all her success.
Getting to this point
Initially recruited by Coach Lauro Crisostomo, her coach during her national junior team days, Dael has played an integral role in the team’s championships since she joined the team back in Season 78, wherein she won the Rookie of the Year award.
The attitude of a champion was present in Dael even before the season had started, as she was laser-focused during training and always made sure the she had a healthy lifestyle. “I always try to eat healthy since I find it physically and psychologically hard to play when I’m not in my playing weight.”
Dael also shares that she would do extra workouts like running and sparring with her teammates hours before practice would begin. Additionally, the Lady Paddlers would participate in activities that strengthen the relationship of players among each other. “We do mental strengthening and team building [with the help of the OSD] before para mas maging solid yung foundation namin lahat because table tennis is a team sport. Kahit malakas yung team pero hindi solid, malabong manalo yun.”
(We do mental strengthening and team building [with the help of the OSD] before so that it would strengthen the team’s foundation because Table Tennis is a team sport. Even if we’re individually good, but when there is no foundation to support the team, the team would struggle to win.)
Battling their way to the top
Season 80 was challenging for the Lady Paddlers as described by Dael due to the UST Golden Tigresses having a lot of talented rookies. While La Salle also had skilled rookies, they lacked the experience of competing in the UAAP. Surely, the pressure felt during games in the UAAP was greater compared to other tournaments the Lady Paddlers had participated in before. For Dael, it is her belief that the team needs to be mentally prepared in these situations and in Season 80, she thinks they were.
The roles given to Dael, including her fellow senior teammates, were heavier compared to the rookies so that the more seasoned members of the team would serve as role models, lead by example, and motivate the rookies. While it was hard, it was all worth it because everyone just wanted to one thing: Defend their title.
Also, with former Lady Paddler Ian Lariba being diagnosed with Leukemia before the season, Dael and the team were extra motivated to bring home the title this season. For all of them, it was a championship they wanted to dedicate to their friend and former teammate.