Rising above: DLSU athletes’ journey of resilience

Explore the lives of Isabelle Vera Cruz from the Animo Squad and former DLSU Green Tennisters Captain EJ Geluz, whose injuries transformed their growth and approach to competition.

Injuries in sports, whether sustained during training or matches, are unfortunately inevitable for athletes alike. The vast world of sports has always been naturally demanding, requiring them to push their bodies beyond the limit, which increases the risk of injuries. Eventually, when they succumb to one, athletes experience physical pain and grapple with the psychological repercussions of being on the sidelines until they have fully recovered. This leads to some losing their athletic dexterity and drive to play due to frustration and stoppage of play.

The sports world is a rigorous field that has required athletes to push their bodies to the limit, increasing the risk of injury.

In this article, The LaSallian delves into the plight of athletes during their recovery from injuries by exploring the experiences of Team Captain EJ Geluz of the DLSU Green Tennisters and Isabelle Vera Cruz of the Animo Squad, both of whom have gone through injuries that altered their approaches in their competitions and life.

The mental battle

As captains of a team, high expectations are placed upon them by their fellow teammates; they are not only supposed to excel in their sport but to also lead by example. Fortunately for the DLSU Green Tennisters, they found a reliable leader who was both mentally tough and determined. Team Captain Geluz is the epitome of growth in the sport and served as a testament to their determination and strength of character.

When Geluz was just twelve years old, he suffered a serious setback when he fractured his wrist during a game. This required him to wear a cast for four months and an extra two months to fully recover, slowly easing back into his former lifestyle. After enduring those long months with a cast, Geluz’s decision to resume training cemented his unwavering dedication and love for his craft.

For Geluz, the physical pain of his injury was only half the battle. The real challenge lay in overcoming the mental hurdles that threatened to derail his long-awaited comeback. Doubt, fear, and frustration became constant companions as he navigated the long and arduous road to recovery. “Inisip ko rin kung kaya ko pa sumabay sa mga ka-age ko in tennis and kung kaya ko pa maglaro as a professional,” he shares.

(I also thought about whether I can still keep up with my peers in tennis and if I can still play as a professional.)

Despite facing such a painful setback, his passion for tennis burned brighter than ever. Rather than viewing his injury as a barrier to success, he embraced it as an opportunity for personal growth. With a positive mindset, he embarked on a journey of exploration, discovering new techniques and refining his skills with his healthy wrist. As Geluz recounts, “It’s an unexpected lesson. After ko mabalian, nag-practice ako ng one-handed slices and volleys and may mga natutunan ako na lessons and techniques.” His dedication and perseverance paid off when he triumphantly clinched a silver medal in his first regional tournament post-injury, showcasing the fruits of his labor and the resilience of his spirit.

(After I got injured, I practiced one-handed slices and volleys, and I learned some lessons and techniques.)

Rising from the setback

As someone who has dreamt of performing at the collegiate level her whole life, Animo Squad lifter Vera Cruz was eager to finally join the college ranks in cheer. Finally fulfilling her goal as a cheerleader for 11 years, she was fortunate enough to earn a spot in the Animo Squad’s bubble training in the UAAP Season 84’s Cheerdance Competition. However, when she was just a few lifts away from reaching her childhood dream, she suffered a full anterior cruciate ligament tear and a partial meniscus tear. As an athlete, Cruz admits that it took time for her to fully absorb the situation but credited her teammates, family, and physical therapist for their unending support during her recovery.

While recuperating, Cruz reveals that apart from the injury itself, the fact that she missed two UAAP Cheerdance competitions was devastating: “Sobrang nalungkot ako nun parang ang dami kong what-ifs pero towards the end of the rehab and recovery period, I got to see more hope because I was looking forward to a competition na.”

(I was very sad because I had a lot of what-ifs, but towards the end of rehab and my recovery period, I got to see more hope because I was looking forward to a competition.)

Despite facing so many hurdles, Cruz maintained discipline—viewing her struggles as motivation to persevere until her chance arrived. “During rehab, I would always remind myself that I’m doing this because I have dreams to accomplish. I want to show that I can still compete despite a screw in my knee,” she shares. Finally fulfilling her anticipated UAAP debut, her bravery gave the affirmation that it was all worth the wait, “Nag-compete na ako finally sa UAAP and I could really say na the injury made the comeback sweeter.”

(I finally competed in the UAAP and I could really say that the injury made my comeback sweeter).

Triumph of persistence

Athletes are not who they are in the arena if not for their passion for their respective sports. When facing the repercussions of an injury, their determination evolves two-fold as they face painful, rigorous rehabilitation and complex mental tolls. Geluz opted for a rapid recovery, pushing past physical limitations to enhance aptitude, while Cruz prioritized thorough physical and mental recuperation, ensuring her comeback was fueled by sheer determination.

As admirers who witness the challenges that recovering athletes face, we must draw inspiration to keep our heads high in our pursuits when faced with adversity. Their unwavering determination teaches us that setbacks are not the end of the road but merely detours on the journey to success. It serves as a reminder that every setback is an opportunity for growth, every stumble a chance to rise stronger and more resilient than before.

In the end, it’s not just about the medals won or the records broken—it’s about the indomitable human spirit that refuses to be beaten, that rises again and again, stronger than ever before. And in the game of life, getting up is the ultimate victory.

This article was published in The LaSallian‘s March 2024 issue. To read more, visit

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