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Coach of the year: Alvin Ocampo steers Green, Lady Booters to podium finishes

Earning a title is a dream every coach aspires for in the world of sports. In the Philippine collegiate setting, winning the “double crown” in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), wherein both men’s and women’s win the championship, is an almost impossible accomplishment. The feat has only been achieved a few times throughout the 81-year history of the UAAP.

While DLSU fell short on that feat, it is unquestionably commendable to have almost realized that goal throughout the UAAP football tournament. In Season 81, La Salle saw the Lady Booters defend their football crown and achieve a three-peat. The Green Booters, on the other hand, returned to the finals after four years and finished as first runners-up.

Behind every award are athletes with a coach guiding them toward the right direction. Interim head coach Alvin Ocampo proved to be the guide the two teams needed as the Green Booters and Lady Booters both garnered podium finishes this season. After the finals matchups, the Green-and-White also claimed most of the individual awards for both football tourneys.  For this reason, The LaSallian‘s Coach of the Year honor goes to Ocampo, who looks back at his journey as a coach before achieving the results produced by both the men’s and women’s team in the UAAP Season 81 Football tournament.

On pursuing coaching

Ocampo began his coaching career in 2009, becoming part of renowned coach Hans-Peter Smit’s staff as assistant coach of the Green Booters. Ocampo also spent a portion of his time at a job in the corporate world. “I was coaching then I go to work after,” he shares.

In 2013, Ocampo also joined the coaching staff of the Lady Booters as an assistant coach. Balancing his time between coaching duties and his corporate job proved to be difficult to handle. This prompted Ocampo to quit his corporate job and focus solely on football, “I decided to resign dahil whenever I got to work, totally mentally drained yung utak ko.”

(I decided to resign because whenever I got to work, I was already totally mentally drained.)

Aside from this, Smit entrusted Ocampo to be the program head in La Salle Greenhills in 2014 and in the University’s Laguna Campus in 2017. This was to help train and develop high school football players for a potential future with either the Green or Lady Booters once they are eligible to join. “We call it ‘One La Salle’,” he explains. “We’re trying to test it with the other La Salle schools na hawak namin if we could develop at least three to four players every year.”

Taking the lead

He took the role of interim head coach in June 2018 after Smit suffered two minor heart attacks. Ocampo reveals that he and the rest of the coaching staff still referred to Smit, the lead tactician, for guidance as they still reported to him.

Before Smit stepped down as head coach, he had already been training Ocampo and the rest of the coaching staff by giving them different responsibilities. “Tine-test niya na kami nung time na yun kung kaya namin i-handle yung team.”

(He was testing us during that time if the coaching staff would be able to handle the team on their own.)

Despite the different coaching styles he improved on, Ocampo made sure his approach in handling the team was still in line with the philosophy of La Salle football: “Start strong, finish stronger”. The interim head coach also makes sure that his players know the value of hardwork. He shares, “Everything will not be put in a silver platter for you. You need to work for it.”

Moving forward

It is still unclear whether or not Ocampo will still be in charge of the men’s and women’s football teams for UAAP Season 82. He explains, “It really depends on [the Office of Sports Development] and coach Hans if he’s willing to give another year for that.”

Instead of contemplating on his coaching position, Ocampo says  that he will be focusing on his other coaching duties outside of Taft Avenue. He divides his coaching duties into two phases.

The first phase will include prioritizing his job as program head of the football teams of La Salle Green Hills and De La Salle Laguna. “I have to go back to it for the first phase of the year,” Ocampo clarifies. UAAP will be Ocampo’s main focus in the second phase. According to plan, he will return his focus back to the Green and Lady Booters who are both equally gunning for the football title.

Bench Peralta

By Bench Peralta

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