The Benilde Lady Torpedoes team captain from Quezon Province may have struggled to keep herself in condition during quarantine, but with pure hard work and determination, she proves that nothing is impossible.
Coming from a province far away from the metro, ID 118 Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management (BS-HRIM) major in Hospitality Management student Justine Abastillas shared how her athletic journey started, and how she’s had to adapt to the challenges brought about by the pandemic.
Benildean athlete life
Transferring from a UAAP school from Senior High School to DLS-CSB for college, it took Abastillas a lot of courage to adjust to a new environment and teammates. Although she was a bashful frosh student back then, her teammates helped her get through her first year. “Transferring from another school, malaking adjustment ‘yon,” she said in an interview with The Benildean.
Despite the difficulties, studying in Benilde made her learn a lot of new things, like values from both in and off-campus experiences. Values she had learned from her time in athletics also help her in real-life situations.
“Time management lang talaga,” Abastillas said when asked about balancing her time for school and training. As a student athlete, setting a schedule for academics and training routines helped her greatly.
Abastillas has been playing for Benilde since NCAA Season 94, wherein she earned four gold medals and three silver medals. In Season 95, she was able to take home three golds, two silvers, and two bronzes. With 14 medals in total, Abastillas is still on the run for more despite the pandemic.
Preparations during the pandemic
Being in lockdown for a long period of time did not stop Abastillas and her teammates from preparing for the upcoming season.
“Tuloy-tuloy pa rin ‘yung training namin despite being unable to have face-to-face training,” she said, sharing that her team continued to conduct their training through Zoom. Stretching and core workouts are what they primarily do during these sessions, as they only perform land routines to condition themselves.
Since her province has already lowered lockdown restrictions, Abastillas has been able to condition herself properly and swim everyday to train.
She also shared how the College did not fail in showing their support for the student-athletes. “Malaking tulong talaga ang Benilde kasi nandiyan sila palagi na sumusuporta sa amin kahit na malalayo kami. Kinakamusta nila kami sa training, and sa academics din,” Abastillas shared.
On NCAA embracing the new normal
Despite her determination and upbeat attitude, Abastillas was still saddened to hear that the next NCAA season would have crowdless games and less sports.
“Part ng NCAA rin talaga ‘yung crowd,” Abastillas stated on how she thought on silent venues and crowdless competitions.
However, she was still thankful for the love and support she continues to receive from family and friends.
“Siyempre nagpapasalamat ako sa coaches ko sa Benilde, sila Coach Evan, Coach Popoy, Coach Teodhy, sila Coach Bong, Coach Itzy, and Sir Albert sa pagbibigay ng workout sa amin and sa paggising nang maaga para sa Zoom training namin. And kay Coach Mac, ‘yung coach ko noong Senior High School. And then, nagpapasalamat [din] ako sa coach ko dito sa province namin kasi, si Coach Abet, sa kanya talaga ako nagsimula and sa kanya na [rin] ako nag-improve. Thank you rin sa parents ko na laging sumusuporta sa akin, sa paghatid-sundo sa training, sa pagsuporta sa competitions. And then, nagpapasalamat din ako sa [mga] teammates ko dahil nandyan sila kahit sobrang hirap ng training namin.”
She also had a short message for aspiring student-athletes despite the trials that they may encounter. “Sipagan niyo lang ang pag-training, mahirap siya sa simula, nandyan kasi ‘yung pagod at paghihirap sa simula, pero may kakalabasan din ‘yang maganda…”