Regardless of attitude, era, or team, it’s a pretty safe bet that whenever you watch a basketball superstar do his thing, there was someone along the line who helped guide their journey along the way. While the coaches of major teams do get recognition for their contributions, it is rare that they were able to, if at all, influence their players’ futures from childhood. Indeed, such unsung feats are most often accomplished every day at home and in schools, or in developmental programs such as the Jr. NBA.
One such mentor is 2016 Jr. WNBA Coach of the Year Ewon Arayi of Magis Academy, Antipolo, who has made a career of guiding aspiring athletes. This year marked the first time she participated in the Jr. WNBA program’s training camps, and she enjoyed the opportunity to help young players find their way towards realizing their basketball dreams.
Speaking with PlayPH in Ilocano, Coach Ewon said that she first fell in love with basketball at a young age, though her father was against it, initially. Furthermore, as a girl, there were practically no role models with careers to emulate or take inspiration from. Sticking to her guns, Coach Ewon followed her passions and was able, as an eventual varsity player of Adamson University and, later, national team player, to complete her studies. Having come so far on her love of the sport, she decided that she wanted to pass on her knowledge to future generations in hopes of helping them as well. It was with this in mind that she made the decision to participate as a coach in this year’s Jr. NBA and WNBA training camps.
“Sobrang gandang opportunity nito para sa mga batang nandito sa Jr. NBA dahil malaki yung chance na makita sila dito ng mga eskwelahan na pwede nilang pasukan in the future,” said Coach Ewon in the final stages of the Jr. NBA National Training Camp. “Kahit sabihin natin na bata pa sila, nakita niyo naman yung skills nila. Magagaling na sila. Para na silang professional players. Kaya nga dapat i-develop lang talaga sila.”
Coach Ewon noted that beyond skills and beyond drills, the most important thing for any young athlete to develop is the right attitude: “Yung attitude nila, importante yun. Hindi pwedeng sila lang yung magaling, o nagmamagaling sila. Dapat habang bata pa sila, i-develop na nila how to communicate inside the court, paano makisama sa team mates nila.”
Today, the newly-minted Coach of the Year is the kind of female basketball role model to girls that she never had while she was learning the game, and it is not a responsibility that she takes lightly as she teaches children to always give their best in any scenario, as she had to learn on her way up. For those looking to get into the game, she had this to say: “Parang ako, nung bata pa ako, na takot ako dahil magagaling yung mga kalaban ko. Hindi talaga maiiwasan na merong above sa atin. Pero ang pinaka-importante na maiiwan ko sa kanila ay harapin nila kung ano man yung ikinakatakot nila (face your fears) dahil yun din ang makakatulong sa kanila. Kapag na-overcome na nila yun, iba yung feeling. Yun din yung tutulong sa kanila to push harder.”
Spoken like a true Coach of the Year.