To pardon an understatement, the DLSU athletes felt a general pang of disappointment upon receiving the news that La Salle was to desert the National College Athletic Association. One of its more, if not most prestigious athletic battleground. Needless to say, the high spirited La Sallites who believe that they are part of each and every competition that carries the school banner, felt the disillusionment intensely.
The stalwart campus figure, Mr. Romy Sotto, is the man-in-charge, being the Director of Athletics and acting manager of DLSU’s sportsmen and sportswomen. He claims that while his players are waiting for the decision regarding La Salle’s participation in the UAAP games next year, they are in commendable shape, being involved in regular home and away games.
These athletes have decided to set the readers in on their personal reflections concerning conditions after the NCAA, so here are bits of information straight from the horses’ mouths.
“La Salle could very well have won the championship that season,” quips Greg Bichara, captain of the varsity basketball team. The lack of motivation was very much felt in the succeeding practices with attendance becoming very irregular.
Reflecting on the undisguished violence in the league, however, Greg realizes that the NCAA was indeed devoid of the spirit of friendship that it was meant to cultivate. “This violence is likewise contrary to De La Salle’s objective which is to train Christian gentlemen,” explains Joseph Uichico, center-forward. Alex Aranez, guard, is saddened by that fact that hooliganism has caused the standards of one of the best amateur leagues to drastically deteriorate.
Greg regrets: “The administration deliberately excluded any athlete from the meeting convened prior to finalizing the withdrawal decision.”
It is perhaps only Pio Morabe, former guard, who expresses a feeling of indifference. He was newly recruited from the Ateneo High School Basketball Team and hence was not very familiar with the NCAA experience. Furthermore, Pio confesses that the league did not grow on him because he was then an inconspicuous bench warmer.
Fortunately, the basketball team has remained intact despite the absence of the NCAA prestige. Our basketball players practice nightly in preparation for the Interclub cagefest; the participating teams of which included Boogie Jeans, Usiphil and Masagana 99. For this they handsomely recompensed with a generous monthly allowance, free tuition and books, free enrollment, free tutorials, and their own quarters beside the Agno House.
When La Salle recalled its basketball sportsmen, the other teams followed suit. Ram Antonio, right fielder of the DLSU softball team, relates the condition of stagnation and confusion among the softball players, who felt “lost” as there was no other league to join.
The prospect of participating in the UAAP next year is interesting yet it poses another problem; softball is not recognized by the UAAP.
Bobby Joaquin and Mickey Ocampo, two of the university’s valuable softball players, resent the administration’s “rather hasty” decision of withdrawing. The team is now left in a confused state—not being part of any league. An issue that the men in power should contemplate on and solve before making drastic moves.
Should the softball team join the UAAP next year, major alterations in their steps of play are necessary simply because UAAP does not recognize softball, but baseball.
Paul Zuluaga, captain of the varsity basketball team, fails to understand why the other teams had to be withdrawn because of basketball’s folly. The football players now simply hold occasional practice games to keep them in shape.
“There’s nothing like the NCAA,” Raffy Andrada, co-captain of the mens track team says with a shrug, even as he agrees that joining the association has proven useless since the organizers were discovered to be irresponsibly lax on the rules regarding imports. Raffy, presently in his last year in college, fears that his teammates will experience the same treatment the Atenean athletes got upon entering the UAAP, that ism the absences of that vital factor called “crowd support.” The University track team is currently preparing for an Ateneo-La Salle dual meet to be held sometime in November.
Edwin Olivares, captain of the tennis team, speaks of frustration over missing the championship title that seemed very attainable that season. The quality play of his teammates has shown signs of stagnation as the incentive to practise regularly has been removed. The tennis team plans to hold a dual meet with Ateneo next month.
The volleyball team, according to its captain Bobby de Jesus, a third year Mechanical Engineering student, “is left with no league to join, and the home-and-away games we hold are a poor substitute.” Bobby and his teammates however, are excited over the prospect of joining the UAAP, which they describe as more competitive. They are therefore motivated to strive for higher goals and standards.
The volleyball players are presently undergoing a three-month gymnastics course under the guidance of trainer Mila Reyes and coach August Santa Maria, the purpose of which is to strengthen the appendages, increase flexibility, and have better control in jumping.
A much-overlooked, but nontheless very special part of the NCAA games is the circle of university cheerleaders. The DLSU babble battalion, headed by Herbert Tuazon, Lia-Com Sr. sponsored the first annual inter-school cheering competition last November 28, at the St. Athanasius Gym. This activity was conceptualized to displace the common notion that the existence of a young energetic group depends on the existence of an athletic team. “The cheerleaders,” Herbet points out, “besides being the guiding force, also uphold the spirit fo the school.”
“The cheering squad was at its peak at the time La Salle quit the NCAA,” laments Francis Veloso, secretary of the organization. They felt very much in command of the situation, having united the crowd during games. The feeling of last glory and prestige is however offset by the advantage of having expanded from simply cheering for basketball to cheering for other sports as well, including La Salle’s representative to the WNCAA games.
A year has elapsed since La Salle departed from the NCAA league. The traditional hot-blooded Ateneo-La Salle feuds have now mellowed down into sports history, and the entire university misses the thrill as well as the tension!