(Photo by Jed Aquino) The De La Salle University (DLSU) Lady Shuttlers were brimming with hope as they entered UAAP Season 81. After all, they became successful in breaking a seven-year championship drought and bringing the gold back to Taft Avenue in Season 80. The celebration, however, could not extend for one more year as the squad fell flat in retaining the title and instead settled for a third place finish.
The Lady Shuttlers now look to complete a mission they failed as they enter Season 82. With a lineup composed of young and promising athletes, the Green-and-White have never been hungrier in meeting one goal: to win the championship once more.
“Nung Season 80, champion sila. Tapos nung Season 81, nag second runner-up na lang. Ang hirap din kasi nung pressure, galing ka sa champion,” admitted head coach Owen Lopez. He continued, “May time na minsan, may nagcho-choke.”
The soft-spoken mentor bared that motivating the Lady Shuttlers and giving them the extra push in knowing how to handle the pressure on their shoulders are the biggest things that the coaching staff had to handle. “Kailangan namin masabihan para ma-motivate pa sila kung ano ba talaga yung goals ng team,” he shared.
The Taft-based squad lost several veterans last season owing to graduation and maxing out of eligibility. This left the team with a huge void that was filled by new and inexperienced faces.
Iyah Sevilla is aware of this but keeps her squad inspired despite the departure of some former teammates. “It happens every year naman, that’s why it isn’t a big deal anymore,” mentioned Sevilla.
LEADING THE PACK
Sevilla, the only graduating player for the Lady Shuttlers, will be taking on the captain duties for a team composed of rookies and sophomores. “I try to console and talk to them (rookies) now and help them prepare for the upcoming season,” she added.
The team also spent extra time together after training to improve their relationship. “Our team sessions helped us prepare ourselves mentally. It strengthened our bond as a team.” She continued, “We eat together after training, and go out and hang.”
As Sevilla consumes her last playing year, she believes that it is the best time for her to give the best version of herself. The pride of Santa Maria, Bulacan stated, “It is my last playing year, that’s why I intend to give my best shot in every game that I will play.”
She vows to support her teammates until the end of the season. ” We will do our very best and fight for the Green-and-White with pride and camaraderie.”
Meanwhile, as the Lady Shuttlers are a day away from their UAAP Season 82 debut, Lopez believes that their offseason preparations were enough. However, he mentioned that the pairings were the most difficult adjustment. “Yun (pairings) yung pinaka-mahirap eh. Kahit hindi sila mag-usap tapos pag naglaro sila ay may connection.” Nonetheless, he stressed that for the meantime, the players should still enjoy the games.
Keeping in mind that there is always a room for improvement, the long-time head coach manages his expectations. “We will do our best. Ayaw naman namin na mabigyan ng pressure yung mga players, pero siyempre alam naman nila (kung) ano yung main goal ng team.”
The DLSU Lady Shuttlers will start their quest tomorrow, September 18, 1 PM as they go against the UST Golden Tigresses at the Centro Athletico Badminton Court.