With the right mindset and attitude, winning the championship may not seem too far-fetched. Such is the belief that propels both the DLSU Green and Lady Fencers to once again try to overcome several hurdles and finish stronger for the upcoming UAAP season. With no new faces in either squad’s lineup, familiarity will play a major role in the units’ chemistry
With all eyes on the prize, the Lasallian fencing teams’ leaders discuss their game plan for the upcoming season
Practice makes perfect
Settling for fourth last season, the Lady Fencers took the opportunity to prepare during the off-season, aiming to come back stronger than ever this time around. With no shakeups to their roster, the ladies from Taft are confident that they have a chance to make it to the podium this year.
“Since last term, we’ve been training twice a day; in the morning, we do a lot of conditioning, and in the afternoon, we focus on free fencing,” co-captain Nicole Alcaraz mentions. However, despite scheduling training periods twice a day, the team from Taft faced difficulties getting the most out of these practice sessions since the two coaches had national team responsibilities to attend to.
In fact, Alcaraz shares that they only started training with the coaches after their Southeast Asian (SEA) Games stint. “Last season, we were able to get so much training because coaches were here, but then the challenge was [that the] SEA Games happened, so we’ve only started really training with coaches during December,” she discloses.
However, team captain Chalyereene De Guzman is satisfied with how her team is handling the situation, as she says, “[The players are] improving really well, and I would hear the coaches give positive comments about them.”
As for the men’s team, team captain Darylle Lumahan notes that there has been a change of playing style for his squad. “I think the change in playing style is the Korean style. Coach kasi namin nag-training with the Korean coach and [myself as well]. So, na-implement namin ‘yun sa national team and sa La Salle,” he elaborates.
If South Korea’s numerous international medals in the sport is anything to go by, adopting their techniques may indeed prove to be worthwhile and beneficial. Lumahan believes this will help the Green Fencers surpass their silver finish from last season and go a step further to capture the trophy.
With the season looming closer, it is safe to say that the entire fencing team is expected to deal with pressure in the coming matches. For Lumahan, being part of the national team increases the expectations for him to perform well, as he expresses, “I expect pressure since I’m the team captain, and ako ‘yung tinitingnan ng teammates ko dahil kasali din ako sa national team.”
(My teammates will be relying on me as I’m part of the national team.)
Several factors can contribute to why athletes experience a lot of pressure when competing, but wherever the pressure may come from, Lumahan knows that this could be dealt with through having mental toughness. “Kailangan malakas ang utak mo. Besides training well, kapag mahina ang utak mo sa game, mawawala laro mo dahil sa pressure,” he explains.
(You need to have mental fortitude. If you have a weak mindset, you won’t be able to compete well because of the pressure during the match.)
When asked about this season’s toughest competitors, both captains agree that the UE Red Warriors are the team-to-beat this season, since they are the defending champions in both the men’s and women’s divisions. Nevertheless, the Lasallians project an air of confidence, believing in their abilities to contend with the best.
“Think about school pride,” Lumahan expresses, saying that the essence of competing in the UAAP is about playing well for DLSU. “Dapat tanggalin [ang] pressure sa utak, so that we can all perform well against those [challenging] teams.”
(We should not succumb to the pressure.)
Meanwhile, Lady Fencer De Guzman shares that it is important to instill what coach Ramil Endriano has taught her when it comes to competing, “All he expects is [for] you listen to him and do what he taught you. That’s when he knows you’re a good player—you listen.”
Endriano also puts a premium on learning from mistakes made last season in order to produce improved results this year. “Kahit papaano, natuto na sila [ngayon] na alam na nila diskarte nila, so kumbaga iwasan lang namin ‘yung mga mistakes na nagawa last time. Ganoon pa rin game plan—to focus—tsaka syempre determination na makuha namin yung gold,” he shares.
(They learned already by now and they know what to do, so we just have to avoid committing the same mistakes we made last time. The game plan is still the same—to focus—and of course, our determination to capture the gold.)
With the right pieces present, both La Salle teams are highly capable of achieving great results this season. But besides their hard work in training and their competitive attitude during games, the players’ level of performance will come down to their mental toughness in challenging situations.
The Season 82 campaign for the Green and Lady Fencers will begin on Tuesday, February 11, at Paco Arena in Manila.