Every year, the Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA programs select coaches who represent the pinnacle of mentorship for young athletes. This year, among the hundreds who signed up, Coach Cholo Elegino of Davao was elected Jr. NBA Coach of the Year, while national team player Ewon Arayi of Pangasinan was elected Jr. WNBA Coach of the Year.
Speaking with PlayPH before travelling to Shanghai, China as part of this year’s culminating activity, Coach Cholo said that the entire experience was, “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to sharpen my skills as a coach,” as the trip would see him work alongside Coaches of the Year from Singapore, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. “May halong kaba (there’s some nervousness), but I really want to push myself.”
Coach Arayi had similar sentiments, saying, “This is a big opportunity for me, it’s my dream to coach, and there will be a lot of coaches there, from around Asia. I’m excited to be able to meet these coaches, so I’m very excited and grateful to God for giving me this kind of experience that I will cherish forever.”
And it wasn’t just the coaches who were excited, but the people from their respective hometowns, who were rooting for them as they embarked on their Coach of the Year journeys.
“There’s pressure mixed in – ang taas ng tingin nila sa akin, (they have high expectations of me)” said Coach Cholo, before adding that, “They (the people back home) are very happy and very proud that a Davaoeño is going out there and representing the Philippines. They’re so happy and they can’t wait for me to go back there and share what I learned.”
And what advice did they have for their young charges before getting on the plane?
“My advice to them,” said Coach Cholo, “is to enjoy the process from here to China and really capture the opportunity to learn from each other. They’ll get to develop friendships over there with the kids from other countries and really enjoy the experience.”
For Coach Arayi, every moment is one to be cherished: “No matter where they come from, especially if they’re school players, they (should) know how to work together, how to play together. In China, they’ll just be attending a practice, but this is how you’ll see if they are really deserving. Enjoy the moment, this opportunity; even for me, I shouldn’t waste this chance because it’s a blessing – we’re so lucky.”