Every athlete started out as a young, determined rookie, doing every possible thing for the benefit of their team. While most people usually set their standards for a rookie athlete to a minimum, as the said player is going through a lot of firsts in their first stint with the team, it is safe to say that Lady Paddler Jannah Romero has exceeded these expectations—especially in the UAAP. Not only was she able to contribute and help her team finish in second place, she was also awarded the Rookie of the Year honors in Season 81’s Table Tennis tournament.
Childhood dream personified
Born and raised in Makati, Romero had always dreamt of becoming a student athlete. She was eventually given a chance to achieve that dream when she joined the Paco Citizen Academy Foundation’s table tennis varsity team back in the fourth grade.
This was Romero’s first time holding a paddle and little did she know that it was a match made in heaven. The young athlete did not foresee it, but she was quick in learning the basics of the sport. She also began participating in various tournaments.
By the end of seventh grade, Romero had already qualified for the Philippines’ Table Tennis team in the juniors division. Romero continued to represent her then alma mater in prestigious table tennis tournaments such as the Palarong Pambansa throughout her high school career. Eventually, her hard work bore fruit as she won a back-to-back title in the Palarong Pambansa during her last two years in senior high.
Joining the Green-and-White
Despite offers of recruitment by other UAAP schools, Romero ultimately chose to be a part of the team from Taft. “Sa La Salle parang maba-balance mo yung paglalaro mo and academics mo,” says Romero. Aside from the ability to balance priorities, she also saw the kind of relationship the Green and Lady Paddlers shared. She explains, “Before ako pumasok, nakikita ko yung samahan ngteam, like family talaga.”
(In La Salle, you can balance your athletic career and your academics.)
(Before I came in, I saw the camaraderie of the team. They’re like a family.)
Back then, head coach Lauro Crisostomo was already leading the national team and the DLSU Green and Lady Paddlers, making it another reason for Romero to choose to suit up for the Green-and-White. Ultimately, this gave Crisostomo the opportunity to see Romero’s continuous growth and development under his wing.
Winning Rookie of the Year honors
Her first year as a Lady Paddler was not as easy as many people would think. “Sobrang ibang-iba, like, sobrang nakaka-pressure,” Romero shares. The rookies were expected to perform well this season, especially Romero, since she came from the national team. Thankfully, the rest of the Lady Paddlers were there to guide and support her and the other rookies when the pressure was “too overwhelming.”
(It’s really different like it’s really pressuring.)
For Romero, all the effort she exerted in becoming a better athlete ultimately paid off when she was named Rookie of the Year. Both her teammates and the coaching staff were evidently proud and congratulated her for achieving the esteemed award.
At the back of Romero’s mind, winning the individual award felt bittersweet as the Lady Paddlers were unable to defend their four-peat title. Although, this does not thump her positive mindset in preparation for next season, “Pagpapatuloy ko pa rin yung pagiging hardworking, and ipu-push ko pa lalo yung teammates ko maging focused every training.” Lastly, the Rookie of the Year says she would bring up the morale of her team by saying, “Bawi next season,.”
(I will still continue being hardworking and I will push my teammates to be focused in every training.)
(Let’s get back next season, we can still do it.)