The amount of championships that one wins does not entirely define a good coach, but rather it is the sacrifices that he or she has made for the team and the sport.
De La Salle University has honed many good coaches during its tenure in the UAAP. Famous coaches like Franz Pumaren, Ramil de Jesus, and Hans Peter Smit have forever left a legacy in Lasallian sports. However, there are a few coaches, whom like those mentioned, have sacrificed and put in as much work for their team and sport yet they continue to go unnoticed by the Lasallian community.
Head coach Sam Bernales of the DLSU Judokas is one of the few coaches who deserves all the praise for what he has done in the development of the martial art of judo in the University.
Bernales’ introduction to judo was only because of mere curiosity. His professor in his PE class was the one who introduced him to the sport, asking him if he wanted to join the team. “Out of curiosity, we raised our hands and sabi namin sa coach na mag ta-try kami. So yun yung simula, I started it during my college days,” says Bernales who took up BS Physical Education during his days as an undergraduate.
A black belter in both taekwondo and karate, Bernales’ love for judo quickly outgrew the others and he shares, “I was already a black belter in another martial art, and nagustuhan ko talaga yung sport[judo] kasi totally different.”
After graduation, Bernales was recruited by La Salle while he was taking up his graduate studies and he suited up for the team for three years and made an appearance in the UAAP for two. Bernales admits that the biggest accomplishment he had as a player is when they landed second place in 2001 saying, “I made the La Salle team land on second place noong 2001. I think it’s special because we haven’t landed that close during my time.”
After finishing his graduate studies came one of the biggest decisions he had to make in his life. “I thought before, when I finished my school, uuwi na ko ng Davao, kasi napakahirap ng estado namin sa judo before. Then yung nag-graduate ako, I realized na I needed to do something for La Salle, para maibalik ko yung naitulong nila, for giving me a very good education.”
Bernales stayed in La Salle and became an assistant coach in 2004 and rose to become the head coach three years later. It was not a smooth ride for the young coach as it took him years, with the guidance of his former coach, to develop the judo team to what it is today. Bernales also coaches the high school team in De La Salle Zobel.
“I realized something na pag umalis ako nothing would happen to DLSU [judo team]. So tiyinaga ko lahat yun. I made a lot of changes. I requested a lot of equipment. It took me years to wait para makuha ko yung mga yun, mats, weights, and all others”, says Bernales. Moreover, their training facility in the eight floor of Razon Sports Complex was made possible due to Bernales’ efforts to improve the environment for the team.
Bernales explains that the reason for improving the equipment of the team is for regular students to be encouraged to join the team. “Para pati yung mga aspirant na katulad niyo na gusto matuto mag judo ay may edge na matutunan nila yung sport in a nicer, safe, and fun way”, says Bernales.
Fortunately all of Bernales’ years of efforts finally paid off as the DLSU Lady Judokas took home the championship for the first time during last season’s UAAP 76 though the Green Judokas remained at the third spot. Bernales, however, mentioned that his main goal as a coach is to have both the men’s and women’s divisions to become champions. “Yun naman pinaka pangarap ko eh. I said I would leave La Salle if the men’s and women’s [teams] would become champions pero hindi pa eh”, Bernales says jokingly.
When asked what his biggest advice to his team is, Bernales concluded, “Live what they learned from judo because the skills in judo are not only applicable in the game but also in life.”