Before the farewell: Graduating athletes on home stretch

For most senior players of teams, their final season with the Green-and-White will feel like an expanse of time in limbo—a transitionary period representing both a memory and a future door. This season symbolizes a culminating reminder of what has transpired before, an indication of their growth and development in their respective athletic careers. Yet it will also embody a moment of anticipation: a stage primed for them to prove themselves for the last time.

Whatever the conclusion of their final UAAP campaign, Season 82 is sure to be a treasured milestone for the graduating senior members, demonstrating how far they have already come in their journey as student-athletes.

Final plays

When athletes reach the bittersweet tail-end of their careers, there is a lot of lasts that they will need to take advantage of and cherish. David Gordon, one of the Green Judokas, understands this. Gordon concluded his undergraduate studies with one playing year left on his belt. To stretch out his playing years up until the last possible stint, he chose to return to Taft—this time as a Master’s student. “I wanted to maximize my playing years so I have no regrets looking back,” he shares.

Photo by Ashley Go

Before competing in his final UAAP judo tournament, the veteran expressed in an interview with The LaSallian that his motivations for performing well have remained the same over the years. “I’m looking forward to representing and giving my all for La Salle one last time after playing for the Green-and-White since 2011,” he had disclosed. ”I always try to give my all every time I step on the mats. The only difference is that I’m doing it for the last time.”

However, being a graduating student-athlete does not always entail a stretch of goodbyes; often, there would still be new things to look forward to. Green Batter Arvin Herrera is on his final playing year for La Salle, and though he will be ticking off many of his lasts—his last training session, last game, last run—he also wants to bring home another first. The veteran pitcher shares, “Of course I want to win the championship again because never pa naging back-to-back champions ang DLSU Baseball team.”

“I wanted to maximize my playing years so I have no regrets looking back.”

Lessons for keeps

These athletes have stretched out their time in La Salle and have become seasoned veterans in their respective sports. After all the time they have spent in sweat or in tears, these Lasallians are no longer the rookies they once were. “My game has evolved, and I added new techniques to my arsenal,” Gordon affirms that he has grown to become “more calm and composed” as a senior athlete compared to his first playing year. This was evident when he clinched the bronze medal in the 55-kg featherweight category of the UAAP Season 82 judo tournament held last March 1.

Similarly, Herrera narrated how, as a rookie, he felt pressured to perform well, compounded by the high expectations from his teammates. Already one of the veterans of the team, he says that, “I am more confident now with my playing, and [I am] more motivated as a player.” Further, the Green Batter adds that his motivation comes from his younger teammates who look up to him as a senior.

Despite being an experienced player, however, Herrera never forgets to stay humble and is not one to look down on others. He emphasizes the importance of working well with others, sharing the lesson ingrained in his character, “Respect your coach, respect your teammates, and most especially, respect your enemies.”

The years these players have spent as dedicated Lasallian athletes have truly shaped them as individuals and left them with lessons they can take off the playing field. As Gordon explains how he learned to put his team’s interests first even as he spent years competing on the mats on his own, “Even though judo is an individual sport, individual medals don’t matter unless your team is on the podium at the end of the day,” he articulates.

Toward the final chapter

As the athletes prepare to give their best in their final season, they cling onto the defining and striking moments of their careers as the wind beneath their wings. The moments that served as highlights are instances that every athlete keeps close to their hearts while they continue pressing forward.

Gordon reminisces his first competition back in Season 78 as his best memory with DLSU, sharing, “It was held in [La Salle Green Hills], which was my home for 12 years. I also believe it was my best performance in the UAAP to date.” Herrera, on the other hand, identifies winning the championship against the ADMU Blue Eagles last year as his fondest memory. “After nung homerun ng isang teammate ko, may last chance pa mag-score ‘yung Ateneo noon. I was the one pitching that time and then na-hold ko sila so ‘di sila naka-score at the last moment,” he recalls, recounting the high-stakes atmosphere.

(After my teammate’s homerun, Ateneo still had a chance to score since they were at bat. I was able to prevent them from scoring at the end.)

Photo by Brie Makalinao

Aside from these plays, the athletes have also been enriched by their respective teams, having fostered an environment full of teamwork, respect, and persistence.

Gorden admits that he will miss all the training sessions with his teammates—he considers the squad as his “second family” who would always “push and cheer for each other.”

Noong pumasok ako ng La Salle, tinanggap nila ako nang buo as in walang discrimination,” Herrera reveals that he will hold dear the warm welcome he received when he first joined the Green Batters. The deep-seated sense of security and brotherhood formed throughout the span of their careers just goes to show how strong the bonds within teams are—aspects of their time in Taft that these graduating athletes will sincerely and continually cherish.

(When I entered La Salle, they accepted me wholly without any discrimination.)

After years of proudly representing the Green-and-White, the seniors have amassed plenty of memorable moments. Given the last opportunity to make an impact, they are more than determined to claim victories and make their swan song one for the books.

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