A modest caveat

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By Joel Panes

Optic Yellow

Monday, May 26, 2014


A QUESTIONS was asked of me recently by some coaches and players now that most seniors from their secondary school who are good and promising at the game of softball are looking at opportunities to get an athletic scholarship or be part of a good athletic program which can both give them an athletic scholarship and a shot of softball glory in the Cordilleras. To render such an advice at this point through the social media, has been bittersweet.

With secondary school coaches who have recruited students from their classrooms and developed their talents on the field, being fortright, candid and blunt has been easy. I say, Cordillera softball holds the promise of greatness. I only add the infrastructure or parts of the infrastructure necessary to support its quest for greatness is weak. In a way, it can be also said it has been weakened.

Having softball talent honed by coaches and trainors from high school is like managing a trust. Softball mentors like parents hold the residual expectation their wards will be in good and professional hands being as competent as them and the new environment to complement their visions. Having an unlike mind polarizes the opportunity to be trusted.

Players in this trust having been received however can be viewed as immediate solutions to a team’s weakness or a complementary piece to further bolster a team’s strengths. These players honed by their coaches should clearly possess fundamental skills to play the game. They can become instant contributors. Time or seniority is not a factor against these talents. They will provide defense and offense. This type of softbelles belongs to a rare class of players which are highly coveted by organizations and clubs with a winning culture.

In Philippine softball, I can safely mention some personalities like Jenny Ytario of Caloocan, now with the Maroons of the University of the Philippines and Shaira Damasing of Balingasag in Misamis Oriental, now with the National University Bulldogs as a few of the few who in the country were in this class of high school talents entering the collegiate ranks.

With them, decent bait was offered. The bottom line of the discussion however was there was little common ground to induce them away from the promises and opportunities of other interested recruiters. Not all talent can be swayed by the mere offer to enjoy free college education for playing the game they love.

True to Maslow’s Need Hierarchy, this elite class of players seek greater security or actual prestige or even both to pursue their higher dreams.
With players near and far who have seen Cordillera softball earn the respect of the country’s best teams, some words of caution seasoned with salt is necessary.

The youth’s interest and delight in the game of softball should not be diminished yet their hopes must be tapered by both fact and experience including the wisdom of an old man who for ten years in the midst of the game weaved through the game’s circles as a no body.

Not all of these softbelles from high school however emerge from the game fundamentally sound. Some are diamonds in the rough. They have the built and posture but are either raw or still possess a measure of undesirable dross in their game. A good coach who knows the game will know what method to apply to make it right and even the right amount of acid to apply in each one in order to bring out the best of their unique attributes. As abundant as Cordillera’s gold ores extracted from its mines are, this type of talents abounds in many Cordillera softball fields. Yes, these athletes are raw and promising.

If however the record of the game of softball in the Cordilleras should speak for itself, the numbers will say as regards hands, it had never been short but the work invested so far has not been enough to raise these talented young players up. There are reasonable causes for these effectual shortfalls in the outcome and much of these are enumerated in the blame game. Cordillera softball has been initiated but needs greater initiative in order to succeed.

This group of Cordilleran talents also needs a few pairs of good hands which would build the game of Cordilleras’ softball youth. Yes, a pair of hands who would build up on their lives hands-on. A national softball championship was once won and many are unmindful it took ten years to get one and only one year to be undone. Still, the feat could be duplicated by any organization with a passion as great or a resolve that’s greater.

Cordillera softball truly needs someone fundamentally sound to assist the players in the formation and development of their basic playing skills. The coaches need to be grounded on basics. Oh yes, they know how to throw the softball but I have not been kind in saying most throw awfully.

Sadly, they also swing their bats just like their coaches. One wrong has begotten many wrongs. A fundamental error has been transmitted many times over.

Of course, it is common knowledge softball’s coaches and trainers undergo seminars which are handled by the country’s best. I am aware of this existing noble practice but most of the time (meaning not all) the consideration for attendance of these coaches is dubious. The vicious cycle needs interruption for the better. Otherwise, the outcomes will always be the same – mediocre, lacklustre and not worthy of public attention. The outcomes at the Palarong Pambansa and the Philippine National Games echo the same tune.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on May 27, 2014.

Opinion

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