by: Lex Perry (@lexpji)
artwork by: LDR (@lisadelarosa)
For this episode of ‘Young Guns’, we’re going to feature three young and promising athletes who are set to take their skills and competition to the highest level possible, and we know that competing in the big stage plus dealing with pressure can get pretty overwhelming despite having the opportunity to do so.
Having experiences and wisdom in which we can all learn and get inspiration from, let us all take a closer look and know more about their story and the steps they take to be more closer to their goals.
It was in 2010 when Faith Nisperos started to get into Volleyball and was recruited to play for her school at the time Ateneo De Davao. She became part of the Grade School varsity team with a push from her parents, and from then on, she just took the competition to a higher level each time as presently, she’s an incoming college rookie who will now play in one of the nation’s prestigious leagues UAAP suiting up for the Ateneo Lady Eagles.
Aside from her regular training, Faith also looks to improve her skills by engaging in cross training with her dad who is a triathlete. With triathlon being more of an individual sport, it helps her appreciate volleyball better because it makes her more versatile given that it requires team effort and chemistry to win.
“Dealing with hardships has been a routine for me. Everyday in training we go through this. I look at it at a perspective that what I’m going through will make me stronger and smarter. I accept defeat with humility. This is important because we can only truly learn from defeat if we accept it with genuine humility”–Faith Nisperos on handling a loss.
She knows that she has to be more disciplined and determind now that she’s about to enter the collegiate league but she stays ready by believing in the Lord and having the mantra ‘Be at your best in everything you do for God’s Glory.’
She also shares that training in this stage requires more mental toughness, more resilience and more patience. Facing big crowds while playing may be a familiar experience, but the pressure and expectations from her are higher this time around. There will be constant adjustments to make here and there, but embodying that ‘All Out or Go Home’-attitude, she verifies that she is getting there – and the whole nation will see how she would respond to the challenges ahead of her come game time.
Initially, Pauline’s dad, Efren ‘Jun’ Lopez Jr. who was a former member of the national team of Taekwondo didn’t want his daughter to get involved in combat sports having fear of her being injured. However, she’s the type of person who tends to be stubborn to those who doubt her; and telling her something she can’t do will only fuel her to want to do it more. And so she took the next step and began to train.
Seeing her daughter having the potential and interest in martial arts, Mr. Lopez has then approved and expressed his support to her and her love for Taekwondo just grew immensely from there. She claims that she wasn’t graceful during the start but without any doubt, hard work does pay off as last 2016, she became the first woman to ever win a gold medal at the Asian Taekwondo Championship.
“As a female competitor, especially in this sport, it’s known that fighting is masculine. But for me, I don’t think so. Women dominate in this sport and we do have strength and it’s shown when we bag medals. I think the challenge sometimes is when people don’t think that we can medal and represent the country well but I definitely beg to differ.”– Pauline Lopez on the challenges she faces as a female athlete.
Even then, she admits that training session can be rough especially when you just want to stay in and get some sleep. When this happens, she is quick to remind herself of the reason why she trains. She conditions herself to be mentally present at all times and not just go with the flow – and all that’s easier said than done, especially for someone who trains 3x a day, 5x a week. Well, I guess that’s what you get when passion prevails and when you’ve developed mindset of a champion.
Knowing how equally vital rest is, she makes time for herself on the weekends and regularly has physical therapy to keep everything in check. Like what her father has achieved before, she is also a part of the national team and she’s channeling her efforts to qualify for the 2020 Olympics to be held in Tokyo, Japan 😉. It’s no wonder why a lot of people get inspired by her, and w’re definitely included in that list.
With his budding career as a wakeboarder, Ralph Villaro has his mom to thank because it was her work situated near the wakeboard park at Deca Clark, Pampanga that got him into wakeboarding. Needless to say, that was the moment he found out what he was passionate about, and it certainly didn’t take him long enough to prove that his got the skills, as at just being 18 years young, he is already part of the national team. Once a goal that he had dreamt of ever since he was a kid, now a dream realized and a goal achieved.
“The best lesson that I got from wakeboarding is that you have to be disciplined on any kind (of path) that you want to do. If you want something, work hard for it.”–Ralph Villaro
Like an eager learner willing to do what it takes to be better, Ralph would often hangout and seek guidance from professional riders. He makes sure to soak in all the learning and techniques he can get then applies it to his training regimen. Knowing that it requires great discipline and effort to compete at the highest level, he along with his teammates currently have their focus on bringing honor to the country and bagging the gold for the 2019 South East Asian Games. Looking forward thereafter, like Pauline, he also has his eyes set on being part of the Olympics. Although his plan is to perhaps train longer and join later in 2024.