Training while waiting: DLSU athletes continue grind ahead of UAAP Season 85

After missing out on UAAP action, DLSU’s football, swimming, and fencing teams are training hard for Season 85.

Season 84 definitely reignited the fire of the competitive collegiate sports scene.

In the return of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), athletes from selected sports—namely, basketball, volleyball, cheerdance, poomsae, and chess—were called up to play. However, this left other varsity teams another year of uncertainty.

Despite missing out on Season 84, teams in football, swimming, and fencing all stayed in shape. As the next season is expected to commence with more sports, athletes are eagerly waiting for the official announcement from the UAAP Board with hopes of finally returning to their fields, pools, and courts.

Resuming the grind

After the then-official announcement of the UAAP’s return in Season 84, sports enthusiasts and athletes alike celebrated the news.

Green Booters team captain Jovan Marfiga (IV, SPM) shares that he was very excited as their Season 82 stint was cut short after playing only two games. That season could have been their year to avenge their Finals loss against the ADMU Blue Eagles in Season 81, “That was the time na [babawi] sana [kami]. Alam ko talaga sa sarili ko na ‘yun ‘yung peak ng conditioning ko tapos andiyan ‘yung COVID-19 [bigla]. Sayang ‘yung conditioning.”

(That was the time when we could have won it all. I knew for myself that it was the peak of my conditioning, but suddenly we had to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. It was unfortunate being in peak condition.)

Unfortunately, athletes like Marfiga, Green Fencer JM Gajon (IV, PSY), and Green Tanker Christian Sy (IV, FIN) were “disappointed” with the news that they were not slated to compete just yet. With the uncertainty of the COVID-19 virus at the time, the UAAP was said to have had much difficulty in planning a full season with all sports included. UAAP President and DLSU Office of Sports Development (OSD) Executive Director Emmanuel Calanog shared last June that the league’s goal was to have “the best season out of what would be available.”

True enough, Season 84 did not disappoint as fans flocked the SM Mall of Asia Arena for the Finals of the Men’s Basketball and Women’s Volleyball tournaments. But as these participating sports have had a sense of normalcy, one would wonder what  the other squads were up to.

Sy reassures that the swimming team did not run from the grind, “This did not stop us from doing our usual routine. We are still training for the upcoming season.”

Marfiga bares the same answer as there were “no changes” in their online training setup, continuing to stay in competitive shape with hopes of having their numbers officially called soon. Additionally, local football clubs aided the football team in compensating for a competitive environment on top of their online training. “Plus factor na rin sa amin ‘yung pag-train namin with local clubs and individual training sa mga umuwi,” says Marfiga, who was based in Bicol during the lockdown.

(Training with local clubs and individual training were plus factors to those who went home.)

Supporting the momentum shift

As athletes continued to rely on online strength and conditioning training throughout the pandemic, there were mental and physical challenges that came with the unprecedented situation.

Green Fencer Psalm Co (IV, BSCE) explains that they lacked the sought-after action during online training. “[We were doing] strength and conditioning, [and] we were missing that actual play time. No action, no sparring.”

May [mga] tinatamad na sa online training kasi iba ‘yung face-to-face training, [at] iba [rin] ‘yung feeling ng training with friends sa training [by yourself] so marami rin na-burnout,” Lady Fencers co-captain Cyra Vergara (II, SPM) points out. Despite this trial, she expresses her gratitude for the coaching staff being “one chat away” and emotionally available to any of the team’s concerns during the pandemic.

(There were members who got lazy during online training because the feeling of face-to-face training is different. It is a different feeling when you’re training with friends compared to just training by yourself, so many got burnt out as well.)

Gajon echoes Vergara’s sentiments, thanking the fencing team’s mentors for their understanding, “Gusto ko lang magpasalamat kila coach kasi naiintindihan nila ‘yung situation, ‘yung feelings namin. Lalo na ngayon, mental health is very important,” says the captain.

(I would like to thank the coaching staff because they always understood the situation and our feelings, especially since mental health is important.)

Waiting for the green light

With these teams still waiting for the go signal to compete, they remain determined to bring results once they hit the stage. “[People] should expect that our team is very eager to fight for a title or championship until the last minute,” Marfiga shares on behalf of the Green Booters.

Meanwhile, Lady Fences team captain Justine Silverio (IV, PSM) counts on her team’s chemistry as their best quality ahead of the next UAAP season.“‘Yung morale ng buong team, ‘yung bonding nung team, ‘yung spirit namin [at] excitement namin maglaro. Pero beyond that, syempre ‘yung skills din nung bawat player [para mag-succeed],” she elaborates.

(We’re confident that the whole team’s morale, our bonding, our spirit, and our excitement to play will spell the difference for when we get to compete again. But beyond these, we will need our individual skills to succeed.)

Pushing through two years of training away from their players is no picnic, but these teams have proved that their passion for the game fuels them to stay locked in and ready. As Jana Laurian (IV, IBS) leads the Lady Tankers, she is confident that the team is capable of winning it all, “We don’t want to settle for just third, of course. Who doesn’t want the championship?”

For the squads donning the Green and White, a hero’s welcome awaits their return. As the Lasallian community continues to give passionate support, the athletes will undoubtedly continue to strive for excellence. Looking toward the future, Co pronounces: “I hope we don’t disappoint you, and we’ll try our best with the situation.”

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