Panes: T12, Lasley, atbp. (part 2 of 2)-A A +A
By Joel Panes
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
LASLEY played her last tournament during the PRISAA National Collegiate Games three years ago when Cordillera softball represented by UC squeaked into another finals outing by edging a formidable Davao nine, the tournament’s perennial bridesmaid to the National Capital Region. By this time, the original trailblazing 12 was a fraction less than what it was in their Balingasag debut. There were new talents in the stable but in the championship round, West Visayas proved too much for CAR softball to handle and easily took the gold. CAR softball settled for silver.
In the PRISAA National Collegiate Games in Zamboanga, Las ended her playing years with another silver medal just as her first collegiate stint in the nationals four years before was blessed with a silver. In between two silvers, two bronzes were collectively earned. We got one of those in Naga when Cordilleras re-entering PRISAA after years of having withdrawn, surprised the field of softball aspirants from private universities and colleges all over the country. We earned another bronze in Marikina during the CHED National Games. Though short of the gold we desired and worked for, our softball years together was marked with breakthroughs, an achievement only a few thought Cordillera softball could make.
In returning to the Athletic Bowl, she came with a gift to assist. It was a response to an SOS. Though two years removed from the team and now gainfully employed, the feeling of belonging with the team seemed to have never departed. The bonds are indescribably fraternal and difficult to separate. “Ito pala ang national champions,” she quipped referring to the squad that bagged the gold medal in softball in PRISAA Pangasinan.
From the practicing squad, there were only a few faces which she could recognize. These were the buddies whom she struggled with together to make its mark in the national softball circuit and whom she left behind as sophomores and yearlings. Now, they had blossomed, moved outside their shadows and found their places under the sun.
There were also some faces which she did not know in person but looked familiar. These were the year’s new crop – being honed to competitiveness. Photos posted at Facebook had removed the physical unfamiliarity with electronic proximity. “Ang tatangkad nila!” she added.
Immediately, I would smile. I knew that Lasley understood the purpose they were there. Then by happenstance she stared at the ground and catches a glimpse of familiar gloves and bats strewn on the grass. Once they were crisp and new. After years of use, they had become worn out and depreciated. They were like an inheritance which was passed from one batch to another but now, the strings on gloves were already broken. The gloves had lost its form while the bats, now scratched had outlived their hitting life. “Walang bagong gamit ang national champions?” The state of things for this time spoke for itself. Even a hard earned national championship title had not warranted something new to sustain its campaign for competitiveness. Not even a tarpaulin or a certificate of recognition. “Wala na iyong dating donor, coach?” she then asked.
“Maybe it is time that someone else will take the cudgels now,” I replied. “As for us, we have proven that we were worthy of being entrusted.” I believe she understood. I know most of the trailblazing 12 after years of showing that “the Cordilleras has softball” will also understand. They had not been strangers to many pains outside of the game. Though words were not explicitly said, I could sense Lasley’s pain.
Others in the T12 who have come into grips with this reality feel the same. Sadly, that is the way things are when an intangible reality is applied in real life’s setting. It just shows. Perhaps, it was appropriate have once memorialized in a black cloth, “Burdened for Excellence.” For a moment, we labored to be with what little we had. With a little resourcefulness, we overcame many handicaps. We were excellent. Einstein wrote, “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” This Jew who had taken a Swiss nationality in 1900 speaks a simple truth. But not all will agree.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 14, 2014.