In the second installment of the graduating athletes Green Journal, The LaSallian catches up with Yoshiharu Koizumi and Alfonso Montelibano of the DLSU Men’s Football Team, Jamica Arribas of the Lady Batters, and Jenni Dizon of the Lady Tennisters to discuss their journeys as student athletes and the lessons they will take with them once this chapter of their lives closes.
Green Booter Yoshiharu Koizumi
As a graduating player among the Green Booters, Yoshiharu Koizumi reminisces his first time wearing his DLSU jersey and having been able to enter the finals in 2014 as his best memories in his UAAP career. Representing La Salle in the UAAP is “really something that you don’t [want to] forget forever,” he expresses.
The veteran center back, who also played as striker, midfield, wing, and goalkeeper before, demonstrates his seniority in the field by being a model to his younger teammates, leading them to the right way whenever they make mistakes.
Koizumi discloses that a professional football team in Thailand has offered him a place in their team, which he confesses to have him pause and rethink his career path. He admits to have been boggled with choosing between the offer or pursuing a career related to his Japanese Studies program in the University. Aside from football, he is also passionate about becoming a translator–Japanese to English and vice versa–given that he is both of Japanese and Filipino descent.
Green Booter Alfonso Montelibano
On a different note, Alfonso Montelibano says that he will remember his whole journey as a student athlete in his memory. “In my rookie year, I met these random football players who became my teammates, who then became my friends, and over time, my family,” he expresses. “To go through all the ups and all the downs of football and of life with these people, there’s nothing more I can cherish. The friends I have met along the way throughout my entire career here has been the best consistent memory by far,” he adds.
As one of the seniors in the team, Montelibano has the unspoken responsibility to be the “big brother” on and off the field as how his previous seniors were to him when he was still a rookie. Before graduating, he wants to leave a mark by sharing the lessons he learned on football and in life to his teammates. “The future of the team and these boys is very bright, and I want to do my part to make sure they make it in life,” he declares.
Starting his football career in Ateneo de Manila University in his younger years and then later transferring to De La Salle Zobel, the senior Green Booter says that he has become “stronger in faith, in love, and in life” as he manifests one of the Green-and-White’s mantras, “Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.” The veteran shares, “Knowing that not only do I [know that]my teammates and the whole Lasallian community [have] my back, I know I have Jesus watching over me wherever I go. I’ll always carry a part of this community close to my heart.”
Although Montelibano is still figuring out which path he will be taking after finishing his Psychology degree, he “never saw life as [a] race for anything” but he will make sure to get to where he wants to be later on. “[I’ll] slowly work myself into it,” he affirms. Throughout his college years, the lesson he holds dear to him is “to not take anything for granted.” After deciding to forego his fifth playing year as he was in France for his studies, the athlete was persuaded by his family and friends to pursue his passion and exhaust his last playing year eligibility. “I extended my stay and came back to play one last season before I hang up my football boots. One last ride before the rest of my life,” he gratefully expresses.
Lady Batter Jamica Arribas
Graduating team captain of the Lady Batters Jamica Arribas recalls her first UAAP game that resulted in a victory, which is her favorite memory playing for La Salle. She also realized how big the UAAP was in that first game. “Ang sarap sa feeling na manalo, and iba talaga ‘pag UAAP, unlike sa mga tournaments na sinalihan ko,“ she reminisces.
(It was a great feeling to win, and the UAAP atmosphere is different from the tournaments that I had competed in.)
Despite her rigorous training everyday, Arribas was able to maintain her excellent academic performance, being a consistent Dean’s Lister. She states that being a student athlete helped her in many ways and taught her lessons that can also be applied in life. “Isang lesson din is yung hindi ako sumusuko, if may challenges na pumapasok dun ako nags-strive hard para maabot yung mga gusto ko.“
(One lesson is to not give up, when challenges come, I strive hard to overcome them and reach my goals.)
Arribas, the Sports Management major who entered DLSU back in 2014, still values what it means to represent La Salle. “Overwhelming at masaya kasi La Salle ito, ang sarap sa feeling na dinadala ang pangalan ng La Salle sa harap ng jersey ko,“ she explains.
(I’m overwhelmed and happy because this is La Salle, it is a great feeling to be able to carry the name of La Salle in front of my jersey.)
In her final collegiate season, Arribas shares that she is always thankful for her coaches who helped her along the way and pushed her to strive to be a better athlete and a better person. “Thank you [to all my] coaches kasi sobrang laki ng tiwala niyo sa’kin at isa kayo sa mga dahilan kung bakit nagpu-push ako lalo para makita ko yung best ko.”
(Thank you to all my coaches because of the trust that you gave me. You are some of the reasons why I pushed myself to discover my best version.)
Lady Tennister Jenni Dizon
Being on the same team ultimately brings people together because of all the struggles, sacrifices, and triumphs the members of the team share. As the lone graduating player from the Green and Lady Tennisters, Jenni Dizon looks back at the aspects of her time as a student athlete that were most memorable. For Dizon, all of the UAAP seasons wherein she was able to bond with her teammates on and off the court are the memories she will hold with her once she flips the page of this chapter of her life.
Dizon states that the prestige of being a student athlete in La Salle gives one a special feeling. She reveals, “Being a student athlete is a very challenging task but at the same time very rewarding. I can say it is a gift because not everyone can manage to do it.” She discloses that she was not able to join the team’s training sessions in the previous term because of thesis duties, coupled with the load from her other classes. Yet, she still manages to stay in shape by playing on the weekends.
Realizing that she is a part of something bigger than herself enabled Dizon to surmount the obstacles that being a student athlete hurled at her. “It is very fulfilling because you represent your school and not just yourself. It puts pressure on us, but it is all worth it,” she expresses. After her time in DLSU, Dizon plans on heading back to her hometown, Davao, where she intends to work for one or two years before moving to New Zealand.
These student athletes may be leaving their respective playing fields, but the lessons on hard work, sacrifice, and perseverance that they have learned as athletes is something that one cannot take away from them.