Beyond the Playbook

Past the drills, these coaches prepare athletes for the game of life.

Cover Image: Coaches who are making a difference: (From l-r) 2011 Philippine Jr. NBA Coach of the Year Raymon Mercader; 1st-ever Philippine Jr.WNBA Coach of the Year Pia Lu Dysangco; 2012 and 2013 Coach of the Year Albert A. Celebran, and Philippine Jr. NBA first-ever Coach of the Year Luis Nolasco

A well known saying goes that, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” Obviously, whoever put that phrase together wasn’t an athlete, because if there’s one thing that all the greatest sportsmen and women can attest to, it’s the importance of having the right coach to nurture and mentor them on the road to greatness.

The importance of the right mentor isn’t lost on the organizers of like the Jr. NBA. Indeed, according to Jr. NBA Head Coach Chris Sumner, “Any time you can provide an opportunity to be mentored by anybody, like a basketball person who’s coached for years, that’s something that’s special, and that’s something we try and give the kids in an intimate setting. There’s a lot of kids here now, but we try and break it down so they get as much one on one time as possible.”

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Jr. NBA Head Coach Chris Sumner believes in the importance of the mentor-mentee relationship.

Of course, being a coach entails more than just training athletes and giving them practice drills. According to former-varsity-player-turned-coach Pia Lu Dysagnco (who is herself a mother, in addition to being the Jr. WNBA’s first-ever Filipina Coach of the Year), a balance must be struck between instilling the physical aspects of the game with the shaping of the person the athletes will be later in life.

“It’s not just yung tuturuan ka ng skill. (It’s not just about teaching skills) Attitude is very important to being a better athlete. You have to discipline first the kids, and what you say, you have to do. Not just promises. If we set the rules, we have to follow the rules,” says Coach Pia.

The Jr. NBA’s first-ever Coach of the Year Luis Nolasco, Jr. concurs, saying that, For me…I always make sure that my players, whether they play or not, it’s about character. Pag dumaan sila sa akin, I want to make sure that, at least man lang, nag-change ang character niya from a lower standpoint to a higher standpoint.” (If they train under me, I want to make sure that they at least change their character from a lower standpoint to a higher standpoint”).

For two-time Jr. NBA Coach of the Year (2012 and 2013) Albert A. Celebran, values are the most important things a player can bring onto the court. “Even if you aren’t good in basketball, but you have the spirit of sportsmanship, positive attitude, and good behavior, you will gain friendship, camaraderie, and you will enjoy the sport and your life more.”

As the Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA’s 2016 programs continue on in schools and gyms across the country, these coaches will continue spreading their brand of values-based sports training, ensuring that the next generation of sportsmen and women will have everything they need to usher in a brighter tomorrow.

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