Last season, the DLSU Woodpushers finished with contrasting results. The Lady Woodpushers were able to defend their title and achieve back-to-back championships for the Green-and-White, while the Green Woodpushers failed to make it onto the podium, ending their season at eighth place.
With the new season already underway, The LaSallian sat down with Green Woodpushers team captain Tristan Ibaoc, Lady Woodpushers team captain Ella Grace Moulic, and head coach Susan Neri to talk about the preparations they made and the changes they underwent during the off-season.
Fresh faces, fresh start
New faces will grace the men’s team as they will be fielding in a relatively new set of players for the season. “This is a new generation of Woodpushers. Ang pinakamatanda ko [in the] men’s team [is a] sophomore, and I have a bunch of freshmen playing for me this season sa men’s team. For the women’s team, I have two graduating seniors, so relatively young na yung mga susunod,” Neri shared.
The rookie additions to the Green Woodpushers are Daniel John Lemi, Diomel John Escutin, Francis Xavier Guimalan, and Kris Oswald Olvido. Despite having a new set of players, Neri is confident in the training they have received since joining the team, citing their attitude toward being an athlete as one of the reasons why they have adjusted quickly, “If there’s one thing na naging thankful ako in terms of my recruitment, I got a very coachable team.” However, she acknowledged that inexperience and unfamiliarity with the tournament may pose a problem for the team, but expressed hopes that they can “overcome [the] freshman jitters [or] rookie jitters”.
Sophomore team captain Ibaoc also shared his expectations and hopes for the Lasallian rookies, “During sa games, gusto ko lang malabas nila lahat, and for them to do that, gusto ko lang hindi sila kabahan. O kung kabahan sila, kaya nila i-control yung kaba kasi yun lang yung [pipigil] sa kanila na malabas yung lahat ng kakayanan nila.”
(During the games, I want them to give it their all, and for them to do that, I want them to control their nerves. If they do get nervous, I expect them to control themselves because fear is the only thing that can prevent them from giving it their all.)
On the other hand, Moulic and Marie Antoinette San Diego are the two seniors of the women’s team who will have exhausted their playing years after this season. Neri witnessed their growth and maturity as they were part of the first batch she coached in the UAAP. She applauded how they have influenced the current roster, “Looking at them right now…stepping up and pouring so much heart, showing so much maturity, pinahawa ang lakas ng loob nila dun sa mga teammates nila. Ang laking bagay ‘nun, for the team to work.”
(Their confidence is infectious and spreads to their teammates. This is important for the team to work.)
Given that both teams are relatively new, Moulic emphasized that their familiarity with each other in and out of the competition will help them succeed as a collective, “Number one talaga is yung trust, kasi we knew each other way back, before kami pumasok sa La Salle, so alam namin yung kakayahan ng isa’t isa. Nagbo-bonding din kami para maalis yung kaba sa game [by going on] outings.”
(Trust is number one since we knew each other even before we entered La Salle, so we already recognize each other’s capabilities. We also bond through our outings so that we can get rid of the nerves ahead of the games.)
After finishing last in Season 81, Ibaoc believes that his team can turn things around this year. He expressed that even if his team is very young, he has the utmost faith in his team’s drive and motivation to achieve their goals, “Walang ‘di namin kaya. Kaya mag-mamatter lang yan sa will namin and sa mindset.”
(With the proper will and mindset, nothing is impossible.)
As the Woodpushers carry on with the tournament, Neri acknowledged that the journey will be difficult, especially for the young players. However, she is determined that her team has the mental fortitude and talent to succeed, “It’s [going to] be tough, but we’ll be tougher.”
The UAAP Season 82 Chess Tournament resumes tomorrow, September 21, at 1 pm at the UST Quadricentennial Pavilion. The Green and Lady Woodpushers will be facing the NU Bulldogs and the AdU Lady Falcons, respectively.