Athletes are always on the move, but what happens when they are still?
Winning Still is a compilation of 27 essays from athletes, including the country’s first Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz, coaches and other stakeholders in Philippine sports, who share their reflections during the pandemic.
Aside from Diaz, other sports personalities include Olympic swimmer Akiko Thomson-Guevarra, rugby’s Ada Milby, jiu-jitsu’s Meggie Ochoa, and billiard’s Rubilen Amit.
Notable coaches include Jong Uichico, Sandy Arespacochaga, Haydee Ong, and Oliver Almadro, while the sports officials who contributed were Rebo Saguisag, Pearl Managuelod, Belay Fernando, Paul Supan, Robbie de Vera, and Geraldine Bernardo.
The stories ranged from their struggles to their learnings from life’s most difficult experiences.
Before she made history with her Tokyo 2020 Olympics gold, Diaz wrote about her motivation to inspire women to be “malakas at maganda” (strong and beautiful), and how she defies gender stereotypes in her sport.
“Hidilyn talked about being a girl in weightlifting, where you’re expected to be rough, but she makes it a point to fix up and put on lipstick,” shared book publisher Gang Badoy Capati.
For Capati, one of the most interesting stories in the book is Gilas Pilipinas coach Jong Uichico’s essay on his thoughts and what he learned from his involvement in the infamous FIBA brawl between the Philippines and Australia in 2018.
The former Gilas deputy was seen pummeling Aussie Christopher Goulding in the bench-emptying melee, but had apologized and regretted his actions.
“There was a mishap in FIBA, and that’s the topic of the essay he wrote. And it was so beautifully written because it was so earnest but it’s a rare gem of Jong Uichico. We caught him at a good time,” added Capati, who is also a psychotherapist in the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) Athletes’ Commission.
The book was born out of the 10 am, Monday-Wednesday-Friday (MWF) sessions organized by eventual project managers Capati, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) regional director in Cebu Rico Navarro, and Mindanao Peace Games founder Noli Ayo.
These sessions ran from the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 until May, which created an online sports community that allowed athletes to share their stories and current experiences.
“We found out and we got feedback as we went along with the athletes, including myself, and we found the MWF sessions very, very soothing. At the start of the pandemic, it was such a regular thing we went to, it made us less agitated,” shared Capati.
“At a time, where everything was so uncertain, there were MWF sessions. You knew there was something to do and something to hear. And so that for me is the very kind of genius.”
With the community in place, the forums evolved into creative writing classes, which Capati taught, but it was the final essays of the sports personalities from these classes that gave them all the idea to publish a book.
It also became a tribute to the late Navarro, who edited the essays before he passed away.
Capati, who comes from a family of national team athletes, shared that she hopes that the book will encourage everyone to get into sports and for the leaders today to aim to instill its good values.
“Because if you have a sport and you’re terrible at it, that’s still good in the end. It rehearses you to try, to be comfortable with failing. If you’re afraid of failing, you usually don’t try, right?” said Capati, who was a former junior national volleyball player and the aunt of four-time Olympian Miguel Molina and track star Patrick Unso.
“But if you have a sport, sanay ka matalo (you’re used to failing), you’ll keep trying, you’re not going to be afraid, you’ll be more flexible, so there’s so much formation in a sport.
“I just think my best parts – the leadership parts, the endurance parts, the focus, the teamwork, the grit, came from sports.”
Winning Still is sold for P750 through the Winning Still Facebook page and online store Crazy About Paper. – Rappler.com