The science is in. Getting high on sports is a good thing, especially if you’re a teenager.
Studies have shown the many benefits of engaging in sports for young people. Adolescents who participate in sports are more physically fit, have better mental health, tend to do better in school, and are less likely to engage in risky behavior.
Research has also shown that people who play high school sports tend to get better jobs with higher salaries later in life. More importantly, sports instills qualities that will enable them to become productive citizens—hard work, self-discipline, commitment, leadership and time management skills, and the so-called “3 Ps”: persistence, patience and practice.
UP is mandated to develop these qualities among its students by undertaking comprehensive sports programs—not just for its college athletes, but for its high school students as well. The UP Integrated School (UPIS) in UP Diliman, the UP Rural High School (UPRHS) in UP Los Baños, the UP High School Iloilo (UPHSI) in the UP Visayas Iloilo City campus, and UP High School Cebu in UP Cebu are the four UP-administered high schools. Each of them developed and maintains various varsity and sports teams, and these teams go on to compete in regional and national competitions. Each knows the value there is in instilling a love of sports, both for its athletes and the institutions.
Smells like team spirit
The UPIS, the laboratory school of the UP College of Education, has five official varsity teams—basketball, volleyball for boys and girls, swimming, track and field, and table tennis—as well as a Junior Pep Squad. These teams, dubbed the Junior Maroons, compete in the juniors division of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) and often bring home the gold, especially in swimming. Other as yet unofficial sports teams include taekwondo, fencing, and a swimming team at the elementary school level, whose members compete in the Palarong Pambansa. UPIS varsity alumni, such as swimmer Priscilla Aquino, Diego Dario and the Gomez-De Liano brothers Javi and Juan of the UP Maroons, basketball players Paolo Mendoza, Samuel Marata, Marvin Cruz, and Joel Tolentino, to name just a few, have gone on to compete in wider fields such as the UAAP, the PBA, and national and international competitions.
The UPRHS has six varsity teams—swimming, football, basketball, volleyball, chess and badminton—plus the table tennis team and the UPRHS Filipina Dance Troupe. According to Prof. Perla Bejerano of the UPRHS, all the varsity teams of UPRHS compete in sports competitions, from the district meet to the unit meet to the provincial meet under the Department of Education. The teams also compete against other high schools within Los Baños in friendly games and sports competitions organized by the UPLB and the local government of Los Baños. In fact, for SY 2017-2018, two players from the UPRHS football varsity team, Grade 11 student Angelo del Rosario and Grade 10 student Aaron Ramos, advanced to the One Laguna meet, which comes after the provincial meet.
The UPHSI fields several sports teams to compete in city and integrated meets, in the Western Visayas Regional Schools Athletic Association (WVRAA) meet, and the Palarong Pambansa: chess, basketball, arnis, badminton, lawn tennis, table tennis, taekwondo poomsae, dance sport, volleyball for both boys and girls, soccer for boys and softball for girls. In 2017, two Grade 10 students, Heather Angelique Parangan and Marc Leo Layson, won the championship during the Western Visayas Regional Athletic Association (WVRAA) Meet in the Junior Category of the Latin American Dance Sport Competition under the guidance of their coaches, Prof. Imelda Catequista and Prof. Jessie Labiste, Jr. UPHSI Dance Sport athletes competed again and won in the 2018 Palarong Pambansa DanceSport Competition in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, representing Region 6—Heather Parangan and Carlos Gabriel Sola in Grades C and D Modern Standard, and John Louie Animas and Jasmine Venice Parangan in the Grade E Latin Dance category.
The life of a UP athlete
As diverse as these young athletes may be, they do have one thing in common with all UP athletes past and present—the pressure to excel in both sports and academics.
“All varsity players have to undergo a skills test and should not have failing marks to be able to join the varsity team,” said Prof. Bejerano. “When competing, whether locally or internationally, they should be able to make up for all missed requirements, tests etc., no exemptions.”
This is not just because of the rule in athletics associations that athletes must maintain a minimum grade-point average to be allowed to play. The schools themselves hold their athletes to this standard. “For the teachers, if you fail, you fail. They won’t go easy on you just because you play on a varsity team. Here, the athletes have to work hard on their academics,” said Dr. Lorina Calingasan, principal of the UPIS.
To which Prof. Paul Mabaquiao, head of the UPIS Department of Health and Physical Education, adds: “We make it a point to tell them at the orientation that if they enter this program, this is how their life will be from now on: After sports, they hit the books next.”
For these athletes, shrewd time management is a must. “They have no choice but to balance their studies and still have the time for training,” said Prof. Catequista. “But although it is hard sometimes, you can see in them how passionate they are during their training, and I think it is their outlet for all their academic pressures.”
Also common for all three schools is the crucial support of the athletes’ parents and the PTA. For the UPRHS and the UPHSI, the budget of the varsity teams for competitions and the honoraria for the coaches come solely from the PTA. For the UPIS, having the support of UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan, who has provided budgets for uniforms for competitions, as well as the College of Human Kinetics which allows the high school teams to train in its facilities, significantly help. However, a great chunk of financial support for the teams still comes from the PTA. Moreover, the parents of athletes often show support in other ways by providing the meals, transportation and equipment needs of the athletes.
Winning at sports, winning at life
In sports, as in any worthwhile human endeavor, any sacrifice ultimately benefits everyone, especially the athletes. “It’s good for the children’s personal development,” said Prof. Mabaquiao. “It builds character, teaches discipline, and at the same time you’re molding the children and teaching them about life and how to manage it.” He also cites the sense of fulfillment the children get every time they accomplish something—a routine mastered, a move perfected, a competition won.
On a more pragmatic note, Dr. Calingasan also points out that joining the UP high school varsity team can also be a ticket to gaining admission to UP or any big university. “It’s always advantageous to students, because you can enter college through the Varsity Athletic Admission System (VAAS). It’s another entry point to UP besides the UPCAT; it gives you another option.”
“Working with these young athletes is kind of an Ilonggo version of sinigang,” Prof. Catequista reflected. “You need to have the proper Ilonggo local ingredients to taste its distinct sour Ilonggo kind of sinigang. At first there was a lot of discouragement involved in putting up a sports team for the UPHSI because of the nature of their curriculum, and how exhausting and demanding it is for the students. But when we started it, the support of the parents was overwhelming and the output of our participation is beyond expectation. Our athletes fought well and DanceSport is the proof of it.”
Read the online UP Forum April-June 2018 Vol. 19 No. 2 issue in full here.