While others claim that champions are born, not made—or the other way around—one thing is clear: they all start somewhere. But for a number of them, kinship became a major factor in propelling them to success. May it be in the local or international scene, generations of talents have been carrying some familiar surnames.
This was the case for former Green Booter Greggy Yang and former Green Jins Kyle Uy and brother Khris Uy, and is the current situation of Green Archer Isaiah “Ice” Blanco-Hontiveros. These athletes have done more than just continue family legacies; with the guidance of their parents, they have made names for themselves and added to their families’ winning backgrounds.
Yang represented the Green-and-White from UAAP Season 74 until 78. During his time in Taft, he established himself as a key part of La Salle’s formidable defense. The set piece specialist then went on to play professionally for Green Archers United F.C. until the club’s 2019 folding.
For the UAAP 76 Best Defender, being an athlete was a family affair. His mother, who was part of the University of the Philippines’ volleyball varsity, represented the Philippine Women’s National Volleyball Team and won a gold medal at the SEA Games. She also brought her talents abroad to play for the University of Wisconsin.
He fondly recalls that she, together with his father—an avid, although amateur golf player—would frequently watch his matches even when he was playing at the club-level. The now-retired defender shares that his mother even traveled to watch him play for the youth national team in Cambodia, wherein he suffered a massive injury. “I broke my leg, so she didn’t watch me play much,” Yang remarks.
Meanwhile, Blanco-Hontiveros is a student athlete who was raised by basketball legend Dondon Hontiveros. While the Cebu native has yet to experience playing in the UAAP, he carries around with him the high expectations that come with being the son of a three-time Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) champion.
The young phenom spent the earlier part of his developmental years in Metro Manila. However, the highly recruited point guard expresses that it was upon playing for his hometown’s school, the University of Cebu (UC), that he gained extreme confidence in himself. He stresses that his performance at UC was enough for him to receive multiple college scholarship offers. “I ended up choosing DLSU because [ever] since my days with La Salle Green Hills, I wanted to play for the Green-and-White,” Ice furthers.
For the Uy brothers, extravagant efforts were also made to establish their family as part of some of the nation’s finest taekwondoins. Hailing from California, the brothers won several medals for the United States (US) and for the Philippines after succeeding in international competitions. The Uy family’s ability in sports extends past the pair, however, as their father also competed in chess and placed in the US Taekwondo Nationals.
Lighting the path
Given that development in sports is not a linear path, having a support system becomes essential. Having supportive parents was an advantage for Yang throughout his athletic journey; thus, the versatile defender considers himself lucky. The industrial engineering graduate credits the forming of his competitive spirit to athletic parents. He mentions his father’s words, “Don’t let yourself lose. But if you lose, come back stronger.”
Looking back, the former DLSU center back shares that lessons from his parents played an invaluable role in his growth as an athlete, “I think I would have quit in certain points of my career, if not for [them].”
For the case of Blanco-Hontiveros, a 13-time PBA All-Star father overseeing his basketball career gave the playmaker lessons that are critical for any athlete. At a young age, he witnessed how the country’s best basketball players honed their craft. What accompanied this was the chance to get advice—constantly learning from his father and his teammates.
Unavoidably, there are vast expectations packaged with having a father with the Cebuano hotshot’s caliber. Outside his role in the family, D. Hontiveros serves as a disciplinarian for his UAAP-bound son. Blanco-Hontiveros looks back, “[My dad] always has his comments, ideas, and suggestions to help me improve.” However, he confesses, “I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for his advice, long talks, encouragement, and sometimes, [tough love].”
The Green Archer states that at first, pressure from others barred him from enjoying basketball to the fullest. Now, he uses it as motivation to play the sport he loves at a high level, and instead treats the pressure “as a challenge.”
Meanwhile, Philippine Taekwondo representative Khris shares his gratitude for his dad, who he says holds him accountable in each of his performances. The Asian Games medalist stresses, “I was lucky that my father cared more about improved performance over wins and losses.”
On the other hand, Kyle fondly recalls his parents watching his tournaments back in Manila. The UAAP medalist discloses that he felt added pressure from the fact that his last name was already well known in the US Taekwondo community. Nevertheless, he responded to the challenge. Kyle quotes, “Since my dad placed at the US Nationals, I wanted to be able to do that, too. In 2015 I managed to place third so I reached my goal in that respect.”
Growth through competition
Living up to the expectations of many in terms of career development and accomplishments can be daunting. But what these generations of athletes have taught the sports community is that nothing comes before family.
The Uys speak about their father giving importance to the lessons their sport can impart, rather than on the prestige and accolades they can receive. Khris expresses, “Yes, The main focus was always better improvement and development of skill.” However, personal development should not be overlooked. “The ideas of working hard, having courage, and never giving up are all valuable life skills I try to live by,” Kyle chimes in. Outside of competitions, the brothers continue to embody the lessons they learned as they go on to seek other pursuits and passions.
While having parents who share the same background and interests greatly helped Yang as an athlete, it was also vital in fostering essential values onto him that could be applied beyond the field of sports.
“The determination, the perseverance, the commitment, I think instilling [these] was very helpful in developing my attitude [toward] everything else now, whether it involves personal relationships or a professional career outside sports,” the former Green Booter articulates. Further, Yang emphasizes that he learned lessons through sports that he would not have gotten any other way.
“I think that was what they were driving for in the very beginning, and I cannot thank them enough for that,” he ends, revisiting the impact of his parents’ advice and experiences.
Yang, Blanco-Hontiveros, and the Uys prove that the primary goal of an athlete is not to fill their parents’ shoes but to write their own story. While this burden seems heavier and more pressuring for some more than others, the journey becomes fulfilling with lessons that can be learned along the way. Regardless of one’s passion, gaining valuable guidance from a parent is essential to achieve personal goals, whether that be for the gold or simply for oneself.