In the game of life, as on the court, there are those who will push us farther than we ever dreamed possible, inspiring us to keep on going, even when we think we can’t. Jr. NBA Coach Raymon Mercader is one such individual.
A native of Bukidnon and a member of the varsity in his youth, Coach Mercader’s participation in basketball were the means by which he was able to complete his education, thanks to an athletic scholarship and player benefits. Hailing from an area where opportunities were difficult to come by, Mercader realized, even before he graduated, that he could pass on the skills and blessings he had achieved in his sports career by training the generations that followed.
“NakiKita nila sa sarili ko kasi kita nila ang liit ko, pero nabigyan ako ng chance magiging varsity during my college days,” Coach Mercader told playPH. “Naiinspire sila through my experiences and through what I’ve learned in my basketball career.”
In 2014, a new way to pay his knowledge forward came in the form of the Jr. NBA, which Mercader first joined as a coach after hearing about it online. Spending his own money to travel to Manila, he signed up for the program and set out to learn NBA-style drills and teaching techniques.
“I didn’t mind it,” Mercader told playPH, of his decision to make the trip. “Because what I wanted was to learn something new…the Jr. NBA helps coaches who want to join it.”
In that year, for his passion and tenacity, Mercader was named 2014 Jr. NAB Coach of the Year, which saw him accompany that year’s Jr. NBA All-Stars to Los Angeles, where he and the children were able to visit the Staples Center, where they watched a real-life Los Angeles Lakers NBA game in Staples Center.
Of course, as Mercader will be the first to admit, it’s not all fun and games, saying one needs both passion and discipline to succeed at anything they choose to do.
“Kailangan lang talaga dito is yung passion mo, tiyaga, at masaya ka sa ginagawa mo. Yung enthusiasm sa tinuturo, kasi kung anong nakikita ng mga bata say o, yun din ang susundin nila, kaya importante talaga, as a coach, you should be a role model for your players.
Whether on the court or off, the skills and lessons we pick up along the way are what shape our personal outlooks on the game of life. Luckily, there will be teachers, coaches, and mentors like Coach Raymon Mercader, who are ready and willing to guide the way.