Distance and dreams: Athletes chasing passions far from home

Every training day, student-athletes pack their training bags with everything they need for another session in their constant grind. This kind of packing becomes part of an athlete’s daily routine, signaling gradual steps taken to bring themselves closer to their goals. However, there are athletes who have to do much heavier packing—the ones who have packed their luggage and moved far from home, all in pursuit of excelling in sports as well as in academics.

It is certainly no easy task to build up enough courage and strength to move away from familiarity. But when it is for something one is passionate about, perhaps the choice can only be clear; such has been the case for many Lasallian athletes when they take a leap of faith to leave their hometowns and adjust to life in Manila.

All for the sport

Student-athletes are known for dreaming big and for their clear-cut dedication toward turning those dreams into reality. In the process, it comes as no surprise that these strong-willed individuals are prepared to make decisions that can ultimately alter the course of their lives, including adapting to a new and distant environment.

“It was really my dream to be a Lasallian athlete,” expresses Lady Archer Kent Pastrana, who hails from Victorias, Negros Occidental. Similar motivations prompted Green Woodpusher Kris Olvido to choose to move from Iloilo to Manila, describing DLSU as the “best school” that would allow him to develop his skills as an athlete.

Realizing that their commitment to La Salle entailed a new life for them far away from home, these student-athletes braved the physically and mentally-demanding challenge of coming from the provinces to the bustling cities of the metro and leaving their loved ones to pursue their education and their sport.

With DLSU being the only Philippine private university included in the 2019 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Lasallian athletes are similarly expected to keep up with the competitive nature of the institution’s academics. “Coming from a public school is a far cry from the standards of La Salle. I really [needed] to adjust to cope with my academics,” Pastrana explains.

Olvido recognizes these lofty expectations and standards, reminding himself, “If I relax or become timid in training or even in [academics], I’ll surely be left behind.” Compared to how they were doing before arriving in the big city, the intense UAAP atmosphere has pushed these athletes to exert more effort and focus during training, endeavoring to keep up with the rest of the competition.

Olvido also encountered a major struggle in terms of communicating with others—he had to practice speaking in Filipino instead of his mother tongue, Hiligaynon. “I had difficulty expressing my ideas and emotions because of the language barrier,” he reveals.

Homesickness is yet another major difficulty that student-athletes are forced to overcome when they leave everything that is familiar to them. Green Booter JV Eduave is no stranger to this challenge, as he reveals, “I miss my family all the time, and [I] always imagine what life would be like here in Manila if they were with me.”

All the predicaments that these student athletes have conquered in the name of their beloved sports are true testaments to the lengths they are willing to go in order to pursue their passions.

A second life

Living independently can also train these student-athletes to be accountable for their own well-being since their loved ones are not physically there to support their needs. Pastrana understood these limitations coming in and had to adjust right away, sharing, “You look for your own food, budget your finances; when you’re sick, you take care of yourself [and] buy your own medicine.”

The Lady Archer notes that her circumstances also tested and developed her decision-making ability. “I learned how to be independent and make my own decisions. If my decisions are wrong, I learn from it and move on,” she shares.

While independence and being responsible are indeed vital for student-athletes from outside the metro to successfully thrive in their new environment, they have also found help and support by looking to the Lasallian community around them—allowing them to feel at home away from home. As Olvido discusses, “I was able to cope because I have friends and teammates here whom I can confide [in] and [who] understand my situation.”

Pastrana similarly shares that she enjoys spending her free time with her new family—her coaches, managers, teammates, and friends—helping her adjust and find a comfort zone within unfamiliar territory.

In a bigger arena

On top of the physical and mental exhaustion, living far away from home can become tiring because of the burden of doing everything alone. To compensate for that, student-athletes find solace in the Lasallian community and in their colleagues, believing that success depends in large part on the kind of cultivating environment fostered by the kind of people found in their surroundings.

But of course, they still draw back to their roots, keeping their respective family members updated about their well-being through regular communication. And for Pastrana, those people are her sources of inspiration, as she expresses, “I’m doing everything I can to make them proud.”

“I think of my family as my motivation to always do my best and also to overcome the challenges that I might encounter,” Eduave discloses. Recognizing that every hardship offers lessons and gratification as part of one’s “character development”, Eduave further emphasizes, “The difficulties and challenges we encounter should never outweigh our passion to reach what we’ve always dreamed to achieve.”

Olvido, Eduave, Pastrana, and many other athletes find the courage to step into a place they’ve only known by name to have a better shot at their dreams. Unfazed by whatever trials they may encounter along the way, these Lasallian players will make sure that they will have a lasting impact bannering the Green-and-White in the years to come.

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