What athletes' managers love about their job

Barry Viloria on Sep 29, 2016 12:51 AM
What athletes' managers love about their job
Meet our favorite sports stars' "moms." (Photos courtesy of Vania Padilla-Edralin and Paula Punla)

Star athlete—it’s a title bestowed to many of the sports men and women we know, which just feels right when you’ve been a little more observant of what’s going on in the sports scene. Athletes, like how the Olympics created world icons and how the NBA and UEFA have molded most of the west’s biggest names in sports, have become more than just the game they play.

In the Philippines, the PBA, the UAAP, the NCAA, and the Palarong Pambansa are the best launch pads of those with the greatest sports careers ever—counting in their slew of endorsements, TV and film stints, and other proofs of evidence of their success—as if you already don’t know that.

Like any “star,” these athletes almost always face very demanding schedules, too. And so comes the pressure. Which needs to be squeezed out of the equation, if they would want to focus on their sport. And in any day of their busy life, again, just like a celebrity, a manager comes in handy.

It’s not easy. Just ask Vania Padilla-Edralin and Paula Punla, handlers of some local sports giants we know of from the collegiate to the pros.

Padilla-Edralin handles volleybelles (Alyssa Valdez, Amy Ahomiro, Maddie Madayag, Mae Tajima, EJ Laure, Rica Rivera, Grethcel Soltones, Rex Intal, Ysay Marasigan, Ish Polvorosa, Manuel Sumanguid, Karl Baysa) and cagers (Thirdy Ravena, Kris Porter, JC Intal), plus sportscasters (Riki Flores, Anton Roxas, Laura Lehmann, Angelique Manto). On the other hand, Punla manages mostly basketball players (James Yap, Arnold Van Opstal, Josh Sinclair, Aljun Melecio, Josh Torralba, Juan Gomez De Liano, Javi Gomez De Liano, Matt Salem, Renzo Subido, Sam Abuhijleh, Aleck Melecio).

While the bulk of their talents are sports-inclined, both also manage musicians and actors.

Being in the business for years now, the two—who are also friends and d “collaborations” by co-managing some of their talents—would be the first to tell you a lot of things some diehard fans would be shocked to know about their idols. That, like normal people, these athletes can get angry, tired, cranky, weird, funny, cheesy, argumentative, thoughtful, boring, too.

Like the athletes they’re handling, these managers also share a busy life. Except that theirs is usually perforated with nonstop phone calls, back-and-forth negotiations, diligent scouting, smart parenting, and just being a friend to these often worn out stars.

And for that, we admire them.

Curious how else athletes’ managers live a day in a life? Let Padilla-Edralin and Punla, “moms” to our favorite sports stars, do the storytelling here.

Why pick athletes as talents, and not the usually more bankable musicians and actors?

Padilla-Edralin: Honestly, it was not planned. I was not out to just get athletes. It all started when I signed on Alyssa Valdez as talent. From there, somehow, I was drawn to athletes and athletes were drawn to me. Ha ha! Handling athletes, especially student-athletes requires a different approach when it comes to management. There are a lot of factors to consider such as school and training that you need to manage and somehow make everything work. I discovered that I was actually quite good at managing athletes and they didn't have any complaints either so better to focus on what you can do well.

Who is/are your most commercially successful talent/s so far?

PE: Alyssa Valdez and Marc Pingris.

P: I can’t pick one, because there are different ways to value success.  Almost all of my talents have gone on to be successful in different ways.

What is a manager’s typical day like?

PE: My phone beeps nonstop during the weekdays. I have to be always connected via social media sites, email and text/ Viber/ Whatsapp/ Telegram. If I'm not at an event or photo shoot with a particular talent, I'm at my computer answering emails, reviewing contracts, following up payments, organizing my life and the life of the talents I handle.

P: I’m available via phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As much as possible, I try to stay updated with each of my talents. Aside from contact through phone, and social media, we have lunch or dinner to catch up on things. Knowing what’s happening with them assures me that everything is in order. Constant communication allows me to find potential projects and endorsements for them.

How far does your relationship with your talents go?

PE: It's really being a sister, friend, mother... being family. That's why my talents call me “momager.” It's a cross between manager and mother. I'm a mom myself and I see to it that I treat my talents just as I would treat my kids—with love, respect and just wanting what's best for them.

P: I treat all of my talents like family. More so, I try to be like a second mother to them, meaning I want them to feel that they can open up to me about anything. This hallmarks the trust between us.

Are there differences in handling full-time celebrities and celebrity-athletes?

PE: The main difference is that as a celebrity, you can dictate the time and schedule since everything is predictable and you can coordinate ahead of time with the station or show, etc. For celebrity-athletes, there are a lot of factors involved that are beyond your control like school (for those students), training, coaches, games and tournaments.

P: Time is scarcer for athletes. They have more on their plate when it comes to academics, practice, and other factors that come with still being a student.

What do you love most about handling athletes?

PE: They’re always on time and easy to deal with. Hindi maarte; used to hard work. Ha ha!

P: Seeing my talents improve as athletes on the court, as students in the classroom, and as respectable human beings. As someone who spends a lot of time with them, always making sure everything is in order, there’s nothing like watching your talents grow up and becoming the best. It always makes me proud.

Complete the sentence: Being an athlete’s manager…

P: Being a celebrity manager made me learn the very important values of patience and continuous relationship building in every day life.

PE: Being a celebrity manager made me realize my potential and helped me discover a new purpose that fulfills me. I can really, honestly say #ILoveMyJob!

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