FEU's Pons to Palaro athletes: work hard, believe in yourself
LAGUNA, Philippines – Palarong Pambansa showcases the top young athletes in the country. It is an opportunity for them to be discovered by the top universities scouting for varsity scholars.
This is what FEU rookie Bernadeth Pons came across in last year’s Palaro.
“Sa lahat ng volleyball players dito sa Palaro, tiyaga lang at tiwala sa sarili lalong-lalo na kay God. Wala namang imposible kung gugustuhin mo.”
(To all the volleyball players here at Palaro, just work hard and have faith in yourself and in God. Nothing is impossible if you put your heart into it.)
These were the words of FEU Lady Tamaraws’ volleyball star Bernadeth Pons when asked what advice she could give to Palaro athletes.
Pons was spotted by Rappler in the volleyball court of the Laguna Sports Complex on day 4 of the 57th Palarong Pambansa, May 7.
She was with other FEU players and their volleyball coach, Shaq Delos Santos who is scouting for players they can add to their squad.
Pons played for Western Visayas in the Palarong Pambansa for 5 years. Coach Delos Santos followed her games in the Western Visayas Regional Athletic meet until she played at Palaro in 2013.
“Kahit noong high school pa lang siya ay iba na talaga ‘yung level niya sa paglalaro parang pang collegiate na talaga kung tutuusin,” shared Delos Santos.
(Even when she was still in high school, her skills were already at the college level.)
Pons said competing in Palaro helped build her confidence.
“Natutunan ko talaga sa Palaro na magtiwala sa sarili. ‘Yung kahit na parang lamang na ‘yung kalaban niyo, laban lang hanggang may oras pa.”
(I learned to trust myself at Palaro. To never give up even if the opponent's ahead and continue fighting until the buzzer sounds.)
Seeing commitment and enthusiasm in playing volleyball, coach Delos Santos immediately contacted the Western Visayas standout and offered her a varsity scholarship.
“So ayun, pinadalhan namin ‘yung mga magulang niya ng tickets papunta ng Manila at kinausap namin,” added Delos Santos.
(We sent tickets to her parents in Visayas going to Manila to discuss our offer.)
According to coach Delos Santos, Pons, at first, was reluctant to accept the varsity scholarship due to personal reasons. But she finally said yes after their conversation with her parents.
Pons said her most memorable moment in Palaro was when she was awarded as Best Attacker.
However, her last year in Palaro did not end smoothly. Their team failed to qualify in the volleyball finals of Palaro 2013. This experience motivated the young spiker to play harder. She is now regarded as the future of FEU women's volleyball.“Masakit talaga ‘yung natalo kami noon kasi last ko na nga na Palaro ‘yun. Kaya sabi ko sa sarili ko, babawi ako. At ito nga ‘yung nangyari sa UAAP,” said Pons.(Losing is painful. I told myself I will bounce back and it happened in the UAAP.)
From Palaro to UAAP
Pons attributes her early success in the UAAP to her experience as a Palaro athlete.
“Malaki talaga ang naitulong sa akin ng Palaro ngayong naglalaro na ako sa UAAP. Dito ko kasi na experience lahat,” said Pons.
(My experience in Palaro really helped me in playing in UAAP because this is where I first experienced playing competitively.)
Palaro was her bridge to FEU and the UAAP. It is something she will be forever grateful for.
“Sa pag aaral ko sobrang laki ng naitulong sa akin ng FEU. Kahit kasi piso wala kaming binabayad dito. Siyempre mahirap lang din naman kami. Libre na ‘yung tutition fee, dorm at ‘yung pagkain,” shared Pons.
(FEU is a really a big help especially in my studies. We don't pay a single peso here. Our family is not rich. Here the tuition fee is free as well as the dorm and the food.)
Pons is taking a degree in Internal Auditing for her to qualify in Accountancy. She balances playing volleyball while studying.
"Time management talaga. Sinusulat ko ‘yung oras ng mga trainings ko at ng mga klase ko. Kahit pagod, ginagawan ko talaga ng paraan para makapag-aral ako.”
(It all boils down to time management. I always take note of my training schedules as well as my classes. Even though I'm tired, I always make sure I find time to study.)
Despite being a rookie, she leads the Lady Tamarawas in the UAAP Women’s Volleyball. But the experience, she says, is something new.
“Nanibago talaga ako sa UAAP kasi ang laki ng court at malamig sa venue. At isa pa, ‘yung crowd ng audience,” added Pons.
(It was a big change in playing UAAP from playing in Palaro. The court is quite big and it is air-conditioned. The crowd is much bigger too.)
As a rookie, Pons said she pays no mind the pressure. Instead, she just plays and enjoys every game.
“Pag dating kasi sa game hindi ko na iniisip ‘yung pressure. Basta ‘yung nasa isip ko lang maglaro lang ako ng maayos. Katulad din ng sinasabi nila coach na laruin ko lang ‘yung laro ko,” shared Pons.
(When I am playing, I don’t think about the pressure. My focus is to play well. My coach always tells me I should just play my game.)
Coach Delos Santos was impressed by Pons' tenacity on the court which is why he had no second thoughts fielding her in even though she's just a rookie.
“Yung intensity niya sa pag lalaro at ginagawa niya talaga ‘yung best niya para sa team ang dahilan kaya sinabak namin agad siya,” said Delos Santos.
(Her intensity during the game and how she gives her best for the team are the main reasons why she's playing major minutes this early.)
Coach Delos Santos has his eyes on a volleyball athlete from Calabarzon to be part of the Lady Tamaraws.
“May binabantayan kaming bata ngayon dito from Calabarzon. Kaya lang hindi pa naming pedeng sabihin kung sino kasi on the process pa kami ng recruitment. Kakausin pa rin namin,” added Delos Santos.
(We are following a volleyball player from Calabarzon. However, we can't reveal her name yet because we are on the process of recruitment. We will talk to her first.)
If it pans out, this athlete from the host region should do well by following the example set by the hard working Pons. – Rappler.com