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MANILA, Philippines – If there was one message that the 2005 film Coach Carter delivered, it’s that, for all the importance of performing on the court by student-athletes, getting an education is still more vital.
Recently, University of the Philippines has had two student-athletes who have personified that kind of mentality. A few weeks after it was announced that former basketball player JR Gallarza is graduating as magna cum laude, it’s now also revealed that UP volleyball player Kathy Bersola is in the running to graduate as summa cum laude.
The news was first shared by Gallarza himself on social media, and Bersola confirmed to Rappler that, while it’s not assured yet, she’s on pace to achieve the same accomplishment.
“Sobrang breaking the barriers. Everyone thinks athletes just slack off in school, just train and not go to classes, pero sa UP kasi, we put a prime on education. Yun yung pinakamagandang nabibigay nila saamin for being scholars. Quality education,” she said.
(It’s very much breaking the barriers. Everyone thinks athletes just slack off in school, just train and not go to classes, but in UP, we put a prime on education. That’s the best thing given to us for being scholars. Quality education.)
Bersola says the required GPA to graduate as summa cum laude in UP for her degree (Sports Science) is 1.2. She currently averages a grade of 1.18, with 21 units left that she hopes to spread up to the next school year.
“Actually graduating dapat ako this semester kasi 4 years lang yung course ko and I was on time, then na-injure ako last year, so I decided to continue,” said Bersola, whose 2014-2015 UAAP season was cut short by a torn ACL injury.
(I was supposed to graduate this semester because my course only runs for 4 years plus I was on time, but I got injured last year so I decided to continue.)
“Ang ginagawa ko (What I’m doing) now is extending, so I’m leaving out a few units for next year and taking up extra subjects.”
Bersola, who’s this year’s Lady Maroons skipper/team captain, entered State U in 2012 after graduating from Makati Science High School. She’s been a consistent dean’s lister since, and plans to pursue medicine after she earns her undergraduate degree.
“I’m planning to use my sports science background kasi gusto ko mag ortho (because I want to do ortho) or sports science medicine. Med then go back to sports,” she said.
While such goals will certainly keep her busy over the next few years, that doesn’t mean volleyball is out of the picture. With the emergence of the Philippine Superliga and Shakey’s V-League, and even the country’s national team participation in international tournaments, it’s now clear volleyball players in college can keep playing even after their amateur careers are up.
“Gusto ko ma experience. Gusto ko ma try kahit once na makapaglaro,” she said about potentially playing post-UP.
(I want to experience that. I want to try and play [in the aforementioned leagues] even just once.)
But for now, she’s concentrated on the Lady Maroons’ (7-4) campaign in Season 78 and finishing her studies – a very crucial task if you’re enrolled in UP.
“You can’t play if you don’t get the grades, and you can’t ask favors from professors,” Bersola shared about the dynamic for student-athletes in State U.
“Wala talaga, as in sobrang kailangan mong paghirapan lahat. May mga prof pa nga na pag umabsent kami pag may game, as in mami-miss talaga namin. As in absent na kami. Hindi kami ganon ka excused.
(You really need to work for everything. There are some professors who, when you’re absent due to a game, you’re still not excused from what you miss. You’re considered absent. We don’t get that much leeway.)
“Para saamin, it says a lot about UP na it is the State University and para wala kang takas. You really have to study. And, ayun, addition na yung pag tra-training and pag lalaro for the school.”
(For us, it says a lot that UP is the State University and there’s no easy way. You really have to study. Training and playing for the school are incentives.)
For Bersola, getting motivated to perform on both the classroom and volleyball court isn’t a struggle due to her competitive nature. And she’s aware that by taking advantage of the education she’s receiving, she gets to prepare for giving back someday in the future.
“Ever since talaga, sobrang competitive ko na and gusto ko talaga that I do my best all the time… it’s my duty to do my best and not waste the free education I’m getting. I really do my best and parang showing gratitude na rin sa mga Filipino.”
(Ever since before, I’ve been really competitive and I want to do my best all the time… it’s my duty to do my best and not waste the free education I’m getting. I really do my best and show gratitude to Filipinos.) – Rappler.com