Winning a championship before exhausting their final year of eligibility is the dream of every student-athlete. Not only did De La Salle Taekwondo (DELTA) Poomsae team captain Angelica Gaw cap off her UAAP career with a successful title defense, she also topped it off by being named Season 82’s Most Valuable Player (MVP)—the second player for the Green-and-White to achieve such a feat. This glittering finish is of course just one aspect of the veteran’s athletic journey, having encountered both hurdles and successes within and beyond the collegiate scene.
Prelude to success
Before establishing an illustrious career for herself, Gaw like many other athletes, had started from the bottom and worked her way up to the top.
The journey had not been easy; when Gaw was first starting out with taekwondo, it took a lot of convincing for her parents to fully support her new-found passion for the sport. She discloses that her parents initially had reservations about the sport as they used to believe that taekwondo was reserved for men. However, this did not stop Gaw from pursuing her dreams of becoming the skilled taekwondo practitioner that she is today, as she says, “Pinilit ko talaga sila na gusto [kong] mag-taekwondo, and thankful naman ako pinayagan nila ako.”
(I really implored them to allow me to pursue taekwondo, and I am just thankful that they eventually gave their approval for me to play this sport.)
Early on in her sporting career, she made regular appearances at the Palarong Pambansa meets as well as the National Games. These competitions opened up opportunities, as recruiters from various schools monitored her performance in the events—but in the end, she decided to join the Lady Jins. Gaw recounts, “Na-recruit ako noong Palarong Pambansa at sa National Games. Tapos kapag may mga laro, pumupunta ‘yung coach ng La Salle, nakikita niya ako, so ayun ni-recruit ako.”
(I was recruited while competing in the Palarong Pambansa and the National Games. La Salle’s coach scouted me, which led to my recruitment to the DELTA team.)
While many high school student-athletes tend to have a difficult time deciding where to go for college, Gaw had her mind set on donning the Green-and-White uniform and representing the University.
“‘Yung culture kasi ng La Salle different from other schools na nakikita ko,” she explains the factors that influenced her desire to come to DLSU. Pursuing a double degree in AB Sports Management and AB Psychology, Gaw continues by saying that the University’s academic program also caught her attention, “At the same time, ‘di pinapabayaan ‘yung sa academics, parang gusto ko balanced lang talaga.”
(The culture of La Salle is different from other schools that I’ve seen. The academics side is not being neglected, and I wanted a balance between sports and academics.)
This is something Gaw still lives by as she continually strives to excel in her sport and in her school work. Making it to the Dean’s List, the skipper serves as someone her teammates can emulate. “Nagse-set ako ng example—through doing my best na ipakita sa kanila na kung kaya ko, kaya rin nila,” she shares.
(I try to set a good example—doing my best to show that, if I can do it, then they can achieve it, too.)
First found sport
If there was any moment that the fifth-year student would always remember from her stint with the Green-and-White, Gaw reveals that her final competition—this UAAP Season 82 Taekwondo Tournament—was most memorable. One aspect that animated this year in particular was dealing with the “pressure” of filling in the void left by former Lady Jin Rinna Babanto, who was not only the former team captain, but also the Taft-based squad’s representative for the individual event during past UAAP seasons.
Yet, in the face of these lofty expectations, Gaw was able to rise to the challenge, making her last playing year all the more special. In addition to leading the team to a successful title defense, she also won gold in the aforementioned individual category as well as earned the MVP plum for her performance. “Na-overwhelm din ako at super happy din ako kasi, ‘yun nga, sa akin napunta [the MVP award], and thankful ako kay Lord kasi binigay niya sa akin,” Gaw expresses.
(I was really overwhelmed and super happy as well because I received the MVP award, and I’m really thankful to the Lord for giving it to me.)
Having concluded her UAAP career on a high note, the graduating DELTA Poomsae team captain plans to work in a field related to her Psychology degree. However, she is not closing the doors on her beloved sport just yet. In fact, Gaw discloses that she has received offers to pursue coaching, “Ini-invite [din] ako mag-coach sa ibang bansa, [but] tintingnan ko.”
(I’ve also been invited to coach abroad, [but] I’m still considering it.)
As she makes her exit from the collegiate scene, Gaw is confident that she be will leaving the Lasallian team in good hands. “Nakikita [kong] kayang kaya nila i-defend ulit ‘yung title, pang three-peat…Ayaw talaga nilang magpatalo, and hindi nila ibibigay sa ibang team ‘yung championship title. Nandoon ‘yung puso nila para i-defend ‘yung title,” she affirms.
(I can see that they are more than capable of defending the title again to achieve a three-peat. They do not surrender easily, and they are not willing to concede the championship title to any other team. They have the heart to defend the title.)