With the cancellation of the UAAP season, athletes and coaches alike have fully adapted to the online setup. The quarantine period has affected how the University recruits athletes—forced to communicate digitally, coaches can no longer approach prospects face-to-face.
Eyes on the prize
Normally, the players would be toured around the campus, while the coaches connect with them to impart what the University can offer. Swimming coach Evan Grabador expresses, “Mahirap. Noong wala pang pandemic, pinapakita namin yung mga sports facilities, gym, equipment, [at] budgets na ibinibigay para sa mga atleta natin.”
(It’s hard. Before the pandemic, we show the athletes our sports facilities, gym, equipment, and the budgets that we offer to them.)
Now, the coaches have to talk with aspiring collegiate athletes online, no longer able to bond with them in person. With that, several DLSU coaches have expressed their difficulties in competing with other schools as it all comes down to how the coaches convince these athletes to play for them.
“In terms of recruitment, we cannot compete with other schools that are state colleges. They [offer] free tuition. The only way that we can challenge them is [to present] them the program of La Salle. It’s a big factor,” shares football coach Alvin Ocampo.
On the other hand, men’s basketball coach Derrick Pumaren saw this adjustment as a silver lining for his team. Reaching out to athletes who take an interest in playing for the Green-and-White can easily be done by the click of a button. Pumaren comments, “We were able to take advantage of the pandemic and get some players in [our] wishlist. We can really explain things, sell La Salle to them, and be honest. We let them know what’s really in store for them in La Salle.”
Now limited to the screen, the sudden shift from daily training sessions has athletes and coaches alike used to experience. Adjustments were made to adapt to the online setup, with each coach modifying their respective programs so their players could accomplish them from their homes.
Due to limited facilities, a new training strategy was also created to ensure the continuous progress of the swimming team, “Mahirap para sa amin lalo na ang swimming kailangan mo ng tubig, honesty system talaga ang mangyayari diyan,” Grabador says. He emphasizes that it is up to the swimmers to report their attendance by the end of each week. “Meron kami swimming Monday to Saturday at your own venue. Ang Zoom training, strength and conditioning iito [at] ginagawa namin [on] Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday morning before their [classes] start,” he explains.
(It’s hard for us, because we need water, thus the honesty system is going to be used. )
For the football team, aspects of virtual training that are not present such as kicking and interval runs necessitate asynchronous sessions. A new addition to the team’s training program is the combination of different exercises. “We try to put variations sa training, kasi if you only stick sa football, you’re really going to lose players kasi they lose interest,” Ocampo points out.
(We try to put variations in training because if you only stick to football, you’re really going to lose players cause they lose interest.)
Admitting that he still remains strict and demanding, Pumaren gives importance to the interactions he has with his players as it constitutes a major part of the team dynamics. “Hindi ka pwede sigaw nang sigaw at magalit nang magalit dahil iba ‘yung nagagalit ka nang face-to-face—you feel each other. Pero if it’s online, hindi, iba eh,” he explains. Pumaren advises aspiring athletes, saying, “It’s not going to be given to you on a silver platter; wherever you go, not just in La Salle, you need to fight it out. There will always be competition, you have to be able to adjust.”
(You cannot keep shouting and scolding your players, because when it’s face-to-face and you get mad, you feel each other. But if it’s online, no, it’s different.)
Although the abrupt transition brought hardships to the sporting world, many teams continue to strive for greatness. Coaches are still encouraging future DLSU athletes to follow their passion and dreams. The hard work, dedication, and effort of the athletes and coaching staff to adjust to the virtual setup have taught them many lessons that go beyond their athletic prowess.