A lot of people around the country recognize the players of the Lady Spikers for their success on the court. However, there are other members of the team that should be given recognition, and they are the senior high school trainees. These players aspire to be like one of their “ates” in the coming years, which they define as representing their school, De La Salle University, in the UAAP and other major leagues.
To help improve their skills, the team was already given permission to train alongside the senior members. One of them is Mereophe Sharma, a Grade 12 student who tells The LaSallian how it feels like to train alongside the Lady Spikers, at such a young age.
Sharma began her training more than a year ago, when she tried out for the team and got the opportunity to train alongside the Lady Spikers. The senior team trains two times a day; in the morning and in the afternoon. As a senior high student, Sharma, along with her batchmates, can only attend the afternoon trainings.
The responsibility of being a student-athlete can be a heavy workload for these high school students, but according to Sharma, they have been able to adjust to it. “Although it’s not something that burdens me, once you get the hang of it, you’ll eventually learn to adjust” she says as she and her batchmates manage to balance their time for studies and for training.
The training scheme for the senior high students is not separated from the seniors. According to Sharma, their training is integrated as much as possible in order for the younger students to unlock their full potential and reach the same skill set that the senior division has. She explains, “The main intention for us, younger batches, to push ourselves harder and be in line with the college caliber.”
Given that the senior high trainees strive extra hard to reach the level of their older counterparts, when it comes to training alongside the seniors, the girls can feel the pressure of training with them. According to Sharma, there is a huge pressure when it comes to reaching the level that the seniors are in. It is something that they do not mention among themselves, but they can still feel its presence.
However, Sharma and her batchmates would rather acknowledge the positive perspective of this situation. “The environment and the atmosphere of a very encouraging and motivating support system is always there to catch you and guide you whenever you’re feeling too much” she says as she describes how the team can still make you feel comfortable despite the pressure that the younger trainees have upon themselves.
When it comes to preparing for competitions and events, the integrated training process can be beneficial for both the seniors and senior high division, as both may train at the same time because they are preparing for two different competitions. The seniors train mainly for UAAP, meanwhile the senior high division trains for limited leagues such as the Br. Ceci Cup in Zobel and the FSC league, a competition held in Batangas every year. The senior high team does not compete in the UAAP because it is De La Salle-Zobel that represents DLSU in the high school division.
Still, for the senior high trainees, this type of preparation greatly helps them train for their upcoming league. They have the opportunity to develop their skills that the seniors already have, hence, they can utilize these skills when it comes to competing with other teams in their own league. Recently, the team managed to prove that they are a force to be reckoned with, claiming victory at the Br. Ceci Cup last February, and finishing in second against San Beda College in the FSC league last March.
Overall, for trainees like Sharma, the fact that she gets to train with the people she has long idolized, already gives her the sense of fulfilment, “It has always been a dream for me to play with the people I idolize. Moreover, it has always been a dream for me to play in La Salle. I make the most of it as much as I can, giving 101% in every training to get better and better.”
The fact that the team allowed senior high students to train with them already says a lot about how preparations have been undergoing for the coming seasons. The younger trainees practicing alongside the current roster of Lady Spikers could be beneficial and convenient for the future seasons and roster. As early as now, trainees like Sharma ambition to be part of the official roster for future UAAP seasons, and for other games that she and her teammates have yet to qualify in.
For dedicated trainees, they would attend training every chance they get, in order for them to reach their goals. For them, their integrated training with the Lady Spikers is just the beginning of their future in volleyball.