Roster changes are typical in collegiate sports teams, especially as seniors inevitably have to exit the lineup and go on with their lives after graduation. However, new faces enter the scene to fill in their positions and spark new beginnings for each team.
After showing off their athleticism during their high school careers, several young athletes were given the opportunity to continue playing their respective sports at the collegiate level and represent DLSU in various tournaments. These rookies are only just beginning to understand what it means to raise the Green-and-White banner—discovering what it takes not just to build a name for oneself among La Salle’s greats, but more importantly, to carry on the team’s history and legacy.
An opportunity of a lifetime
Stepping into the UAAP scene for the first time can be an intimidating prospect, but for Green Woodpusher Xavier Guimalan, the honor of being a part of UAAP history evoked a strong sense of enthusiasm. He notes the quality the UAAP tournament possesses, “It’s very different from other tournaments I’ve played—the competitive atmosphere is much more intense…It’s been a pretty wild ride.”
Beyond simply being able to participate in the UAAP, there is also the aspect of school pride; the decision to don Green-and-White was an easy one to make for Joel Cagulangan. Right after graduating from La Salle Green Hills (LSGH), Cagulangan made sure he would continue playing basketball for a Lasallian school.
“[Noong] high school sa [LSGH], natalo kami sa [basketball] finals, so sinabi ko sa sarili ko hindi ito yung last na mag-Alma Mater [hymn] ako ng La Salle. Nag-decide ako na sa La Salle talaga ako pupunta kasi gusto ko pa talaga mag-Alma Mater [hymn] pa para sa La Salle,” the young Green Archer says that he always had his eyes set on representing DLSU.
(When I was in [LSGH], we lost in the [basketball] finals, and I told myself that this will not be the last time I sing the Alma Mater [hymn] of La Salle. I decided to go to [DLSU] because I wanted to continue singing the Alma Mater [hymn] for La Salle.)
He further shares that playing for the Green Archers has always been his dream, “Sobrang nakaka-proud and yung feeling na nandoon ka na sa dream school mo—ang sarap ng feeling. Laging marami nanunuod kapag La Salle, especially when it’s the rivalry match [between] Ateneo at La Salle…iba yung feeling.”
(I feel really proud mostly because I finally get to attend my dream school—it’s a wonderful feeling. There’s always a big crowd watching La Salle games, especially a rivalry match [between] Ateneo and La Salle…The feeling is just on a different level.)
It comes as no surprise that playing for the Green-and-White was similarly a “dream come true” for Green Paddler Christian Crisostomo—after all, his father, Lauro Crisostomo, is the current head coach of table tennis teams from Taft. “Sobrang saya kasi, actually, ako yung nanonood lang dati,” he expresses. “Ngayon…ako na yung maglalaro [at] magre-represent ng La Salle.”
(I’m actually very happy because I’ve gone from just watching the games before, to now getting to be the one to play and represent La Salle.)
His counterpart in the women’s division, Lady Paddler Rein Teodoro, meanwhile shares that the University’s reputation in the sport raised the stakes for her, “It’s a privilege to play for La Salle [because] they have a good name [in the] table tennis [scene].”
Joining these rookies who came fresh out of high school are also athletes who are already familiar with the collegiate level of competition, but are carrying the DLSU name for the first time.
Playing for the UE Lady Warriors prior to coming to Taft, Crystal Jade Canoos is motivated to represent La Salle and plans on improving upon her performance from her previous stint with the Lady Warriors. “Sa sarili ko inisip ko na dapat mag-step up kasi iba yung La Salle, dapat galingan ko pa,” she explains.
(I told myself that I have to step up my game because La Salle is different—I really must play better.)
Along similar lines, Koby Cabrido relishes making the most out of his first and only year as part of the Green Paddlers, revealing that he is a one-and-done player after having already exhausted four out of his five eligible playing years under the De La Salle- College of St. Benilde. Despite his previous experience participating in the NCAA, Cabrido admits that, “May pressure [na naka-akibat] yung pagka-represent sa DLSU.”
(There is still pressure attached to representing DLSU.)
Looking to the future
With the UAAP Season 82 about to reach its halfway mark, several sports have already wrapped up their respective competitions, while other tournaments are still underway, and still others have yet to begin. The rookies express a balanced mix of level-headedness and lofty aspirations, aiming to bring glory to the University while also recognizing the tough road that lies ahead.
With their first year of playing already in the books, Green Archer Cagulangan and Green Woodpusher Guimalan are looking to the future. Despite missing out on a Final Four berth in his rookie season, Cagulangan remains hopeful of eventually bringing a championship to Taft in the coming years.
Meanwhile, Guimalan vows to put up a stronger performance in the succeeding seasons, “Expect that we will train and play harder for the love of the school, the team, and for the glory of God.”
For this season’s UAAP table tennis tournament, Canoos is well aware of the high stakes that come with playing for the Lady Paddlers as the team will not settle for anything less than taking back the crown that they had conceded to the UST Golden Tigresses the previous year. “Every game dapat panalo,” she asserts.
(Every game is a must-win.)
Meanwhile, Green Paddler Cabrido keeps in mind one thing to ensure that he performs at his best to help his team achieve their goals. As he suits up for La Salle, Cabrido explains, “Mindset ko is [to] focus lang—yung parang every match namin is [the] last match na; every match buhos lagi regardless kung sino kalaban.”
(I will pour out my all in every match, regardless of who my opponents will be.)