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Pandemic Life Update: Mapúan Athletes Get Locked and Loaded

Article by: Andrea Mae Anoñuevo and Lea Ysabel Q. Evangelista

Graphics by: Albert Dylan David

Time slowed to a crawl the moment the COVID-19 virus hijacked and halted society and its functions. More than a year into the world's longest quarantine in this global pandemic, local schools and businesses have been forced to adapt to the new normal through online delivery of tasks and activities. Yet physical sports seem to have been lost in time, unable to start and resume matches in observance of pandemic protocols.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is also affected by these restrictions as they cut short season 95 last March 2020 with no official overall champion. Student-athletes headed home, unsure when they could play again. Some might have been wondering what the Mapúa Cardinals have been up to, so here is a sneak peek of what some of the University’s student-athletes have been doing:

Paolo Hernandez

After a year since people had been forced into staying home, most had been more sedentary just inside their houses. However, Paolo Hernandez, the Cardinals’ Basketball Forward, had no time to waste. When the lockdown was issued, he continued to work out both through his own means and with the team’s conditioning coach a while after.

Almost two years after NCAA Season 95 and his unforgettable performance as a rookie, the Cardinal baller is still recovering from his injury in the second round. He’s making use of his time at home to keep his body in shape to regain strength, while also honing his skills in the sport – from the fundamentals to the other aspects he needed to improve on. 

I know that there are a lot of reasons for us athletes to be not motivate[d] in today's situation, but I push myself every single day, because I know what I want, I love my sport, and I have a dream,” said the team’s wingman, eager to rise from the ashes after his last playing season.

The red and gold team is preparing for what is to come through home workouts via Zoom sessions. The Mapúan forward urges the student body to keep an eye on the team. “Mag cha-champion ulit tayo Mapúans,” he exclaimed. 

Leslie Bolandrina 

Leslie Bolandrina, Mapúa University (MU) Women’s Volleyball’s middle blocker, felt anxious upon the initial implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). However, she opted to focus her energy on her academics and personal training instead.

The Bataan-born athlete follows an exercise program given by their coach that includes weight training and cardio workout using alternative workout equipments made with water bottles and gallons. She also took up cycling as part of her own routine as she regularly pedals around the vicinity of her hometown. 

Bolandrina shared her realization in the midst of the pandemic – that her motivation comes from her family and the institution; her drive to prove herself in her passion and field stems from her grateful heart towards the people around her and the opportunity given to her as an athlete in an established university. “[The] pandemic made me realize that time is short, and we will never know what is going to happen, so I want to do everything that I want and needed to do because not everyone has this kind of privilege to be an athlete in a well-known school,” the lady cardinal emphasized. 

Unfazed by the virus, MU’s Lady Cardinals carry on with their home training in preparation for a new season. The young volleyball player is optimistic as she tells fellow Mapúans to “expect [a] stronger and motivated team in the upcoming NCAA season.

Leonard Grospe

Southeast Asian (SEA) Games participant and MU Trackster Leonard Grospe looked back on his discontent from the start of quarantine, as their sport was one of the few events left in the last season that got cancelled. However, he did not let this get him down and continues to train in his own time to let out his frustrations.

In 2019, Grospe and two more tracksters were drafted in the Philippine Team for Track and Field in the SEA Games before their participation in NCAA Season 95. Though his preparation was momentarily postponed, he keeps his form in this period of inactivity through light training, similar to the previous athletes mentioned. 

Even with the uncertainty and restlessness permeating throughout the quarantine, the speedster stays motivated with constant exercise and does not allow himself to make excuses and slack off despite the current situation. 

Fortunately, it was announced that the upcoming NCAA season will include Track and Field as one of the four featured events. With continuous practice, the Mapúa Tracksters’ goal this time around is “getting the title of Season 96 Championships,” the Cardinal runner asserted.

Miguel Pulga

A busy body in school, MU Men’s Volleyball team captain Miguel Pulga thought of his commitments as a student, athlete, and student council officer just as soon as the ECQ commenced more than a year ago. He was aware of the effects of the COVID-19 virus on his daily routine so he mentally and physically prepared himself for changes he had to face.

At the onset of the quarantine, the volleyball foreman shared that their team first took a break from drills to cope with the adjustments of online learning. Weeks later, they resumed training programs prepared by their conditioning coach and recorded their individual workouts for documentation. The team members also conduct separate online workout sessions with their coaches to monitor their progress and ensure they do the exercises right. 

The setter found his motivation in his loved ones, his dreams, and the university. This became his driving force to overcome difficulties and spare no effort in what he did amidst the pandemic. 

As they strictly fulfill their training and conditioning, the Men’s Volleyball Team is making sure they are a hundred percent ready for the next season. “We will give our all to fight for the pride of our dear University,” the game captain affirmed.

The pandemic has taken away every bit of normalcy as people were forced in isolation, with sports events in crowd-filled stadiums becoming a distant memory. Recently, the Department of Health released a memorandum on health and safety protocols during sports events, signifying a chance for leagues to reopen this year. While plans are not yet set in stone, look out for announcements from NCAA and GTV, the new official media partner of the league.  

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