Pons doesn’t know how to be nervous on court
ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 05, 2016 08:26 PM
May katapangan po talaga ako -- Bernadeth Pons
Even the very best in volleyball admit to feeling nervous in the early goings of a game, but Lady Tamaraw Bernadeth Pons, 19, says, without sounding brash, that she never gets nervous when playing.
“Ang nararamdaman ko po bawat laro ay excitement, hindi kaba. Excited po akong sukatin agad ang aking kakayahan laban sa kakayahan ng kalaban. May katapangan po talaga ako,” she said.
All her life, the five-foot-seven key player of Far Eastern University and her family in Talisay City, Negros Occidental, have been waging a daily battle to survive. With one mouth less to feed as the eldest of his three children is away in Manila pending for herself, Pons’ father struggles to stretch his income as a pedicab driver to support his wife and two more children.
A compelling desire to give her family some measure of comfort is what drives Pons to be the best that she can be both in volleyball and in her Financial Management studies. She makes every minute count.
“Kung walang training at pasok, nasa dorm (athletes dorm) lang po ako, nag-aaral o nagpapahinga. Bihira lang po akong lumabas ng dorm para mamasyal kasama ang mga teammates ko o kaklase.”
She’s doing well in both.
Her school grades are more than okay and this early, after only playing for two years and leading the Lady Tamaraws to the Final Four in the last two UAAP seasons, she’s already playing in a commercial league.
However much she earns from it she sends to her family in Talisay.
“Halos lahat ng kinita ko na po sa paglalaro deretso na sa pamilya ko. Mas kailangan nila ang pera. Wala akong masyadong kailangan para sa sarile ko,” said Pons.
The dutiful daughter feels good that she has been a constant source of joy for his father.
“Kahit ibabad nang ibabad ng tatay ko ang kanyang katawan sa pagpepedikab, kaunti pa rin ang kanyang kikitain. Ang gaan po ng aking pakiramdam kapag ipinararamdam niya na pinasasaya ko siya sa pamamagitan ng aking mga accomplishments sa sport,” she said. “Tuwing sasabihin niya na ipinagmamalaki niya ako sa aming lugar, sa Barangay Zone 10 sa Talisay, lalo na kapag napanood niya ako sa TV at maganda ang nilaro ko, bawing-bawi na ako sa mga sakripisyong ginagawa ko sa Manila.”
You can be sure that Pon’s father clapped and leaped in joy again while watching his firstborn on ABS-CBN Sports + Action Channel 23 star in FEU’s masterful three-set smothering of NCAA champion College of St. Benilde, 25-16, 25-18, 25-18, Wednesday in the Shakey’s V-League Season 13-Collegiate Conference at Philsports Arena in Pasig city.
Pons pumped in 11 points, eight of them on attacks and two on aces, in a 31-point collaboration with Remy Palma and Toni Rose Basas to hand the Lady Tamaraws a winning start in the nation’s longest-running tournament in women’s volleyball mounted by Sports Vision in partnership with official outfitter Accel and official ball Mikasa.
Her father, she says, comforts her in their regular phone conversations whenever her team loses a game.
“Lagi po niyang pinalalakas ang aking loob kapag natatalo kami sa laro. Sabi niya ‘wag akong panghihinaan ng loob kapag natatalo, bumawi na lang sa mga susunod pang laban. At kapag ipinanalo ko iyon, mas matamis na panalo raw iyon.”
Work in progress
It can be said that Pons is a work in progress of FEU coach Shaq delos Santos.
On his first year as mentor of the Lady Tamaraws, de los Santos wooed Pons and her family immediately after seeing her play in a regional meet in the Visayas and won them over. She flew to Manila to join the Lady Tamaraws upon graduation from Rafael B. Lacson Memorial High School in Talisay.
Competing since elementary in Epigenio Enrica Lizares Memorial School has prepared her against homesickness. Month-long training for regional meets and then for three Palarong Pambansa – Dapitan in Dipolog City, Pangasinan and Dumaguete – took her away from her family. Thus, when she arrived on the Morayta campus, her home for the next four or five years of her life, she says she was ready to live away from her family, leaving her to adapt to just her new surroundings and her teammates.
“Medyo mahirap mag-adjust pero kailangang gawin para sa pamilya. Ibang-iba ang buhay sa Maynila kesa sa kinagisnan ko. Bago ang mga teammates ko, ang mga tao sa paligid. Ang ginawa ko pinakisamahan ko silang lahat.”
Like the general run of university athletes who train all year round, Pons returns to her family once a year during the grand summer vacation or long Christmas holidays.
“Pero depende pa po iyon kung may pamasahe ako pauwi sa barko o eroplano. Kung hindi ako makakauwi sa dorm na lang ako titigil o di kaya sa bahay ng mga teammates kong taga-Manila.”
She has already spent one summer break or two with the family of her teammate Jerrili Malabanan.
Pons already made waves on her first two years with the Lady Tamaraws. Together with Palma and Basas, she led FEU back to the Final Four in the last two seasons of the UAAP. Coach delos Santos inherited Palma and Basas from the coach he took over from.
It is no wonder then that in Bernadeth Pons, for whom he flew to the Visayas to find her on his very first year as FEU coach, delos Santos has found another gauge by which he can measure if he’s effective or not in his mentoring of the Lady Tamaraws.