OUTSIDE THE LOCKER ROOM: UNTO THE NEXT CHAPTER
Every life of a student-athlete is like a big merry-go-round, sometimes you’re up then you're down and the cycle goes on. Not every game is full of luck, you might fall at times but you should get up with grace, with a strong determination, and a better vision for your next round.
Learning to accept defeats, unpredictable turn of events, and unexpected accidents and to stand tall again after everything are what San Beda Red Corp’s new Team Captain Lauren Ochoada learned in the most challenging years of her young career.
Lauren is very passionate about her love for cheerleading. Her passion for the craft grew with the influences of her first coaches who saw potential in her and allowed her to join intramural competitions when she was just 14-years-old.
Her pep journey continued in Central Colleges of the Philippines Bobcat in her Senior High School. Because of the new things she learned about this craft, her burning passion for cheerleading grew more which led her to enter the prestigious red school of Mendiola and to be part of the San Beda Red Corps. Challenging as it may seem to be in college, Lauren still manages her responsibility as a student and an athlete.
Throughout the years, Lauren’s life of being a student-athlete is full of both rainbows and storms. As a cheerleader, she’s not always on top of her own pyramid. As most people don’t know, she struggled with her Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear injury in 2019, disappointed after receiving news that the NCAA Season 96 Cheerleading competition that was supposed to be her comeback was put into shelve, she knows that this is nothing more than a temporary break till she returns to the mat.
The rest that happened to Lauren was written in history. But her resiliency and positive outlook in life is another story to be told to inspire others to dream big and learn to stand up and continue her story.
With just days left before the new year starts, let us first walk down in Lauren’s memory lane and see how the years shaped her to be the new chief of the red and white squad.
2019: ACL INJURY CAN NEVER STOP A LION’S BURNING PASSION
2019 was the year Lauren didn’t want to happen again. Things were running heavy on Lauren’s head when she had an ACL tear when her knee accidentally twisted and popped during gymnastics training with her eagerness to learn and execute the pep’s new routines perfectly. “Iniisip ko kung paano ako makakapag perform ng maayos, uunahin ko ba yung sarili ko at iiwan ko ba muna yung team ko o itutuloy ko yung nasimulan ko,” she shared.
Depressing it may seem but there is no single thought of quitting. Because of her trust in herself that she can win any fight and the motivations she received from people, she overcame the whole process even though it was not easy.
“Mahirap magtraining ng may injury pero pinili kong ipagpatuloy para sa competition kaya once you step into the mats dapat walang masakit sayo, dapat makita yung hunger mo para matuto. Kaya ginawan ko ng paraan, nagbabalot ako ng tuhod every training, naglalagay ako ng Muller foam, tape and supporter at nag cold compress para lang mas less yung pain,” Lauren said as she reminisces her journey in healing.
Despite the need to rest for a minimum of 6 months with all the tumbling, liftings, and tosses, Lauren’s eagerness and determination didn’t let her pause for too long. After 4 months of resting, she immediately returned to practices and even performed in competition given the conditions from her coaches and managers.
“Hindi ko sinasabing tama at okay lang pero diko naman sya itatry kung feeling ko hindi pa kaya.”
Having an injury is a nightmare for every athlete just like in Lauren’s case. It is like a deciding point in her life if she should still keep playing or stop at that point. But for Lauren, she treated her injury as a time for her to recharge and pause for a while so when she comes back, she’s stronger than ever.
2020: THE PANDEMIC SAYS PAUSE FOR AWHILE AND RECHARGE
2019 was a tough year for Lauren, but little did she expect that 2020 could be worse. 2020 is the chance for her to redeem herself from the injury in the previous year but the game plan she prepared didn’t go according to her plans.
“Nung nalagpasan ko naman yung mga level na yun [ACL injury] and successful naman yung therapy ko, biglang nagkaron ng pandemic so nalungkot ako bigla. Kasi yung iniisip ko that time is makakabawi na ako kasi yung last performance ko hindi ko naibigay yung best ko dahil nga sa acl injury ko kaya limited lang yung mga pinapagawa sakin ng coaches,” said Lauren.
What made her disappointed more aside from the fact that NCAA Season 96 Cheerleading Competition will not be pushed true is that the team already prepared harder just to finish their whole routine, polished and perfect, but the COVID-19 changed the whole story.
2020 was supposed to be Lauren’s comeback to Cheerleading where there’s no inhibition if she can do stunts and tumbling because she’s totally healed. However, not all things are controllable, bad things may happen for a reason. But it will measure your patience and, in every pain, there are lessons and experiences that will make you stronger and work harder.
2021: IT’S ABOUT TO UNFOLD SOON!
With the possible kickoff of the NCAA new season next year, it is sad news for the cheerleading community that there’s a possibility that they will not be included in the list of sports to resume in the league. “And di rin kami sure kung pwede na ang competition hanggang may covid pa kasi yung sports namin hindi pwede ang social distancing lalo na sa stunts,” Lauren shared.
With the still unclear chance of the cheerleading competition to restart, there’s one thing that Lauren is proud of and that’s the news she received just a month ago that she’ll be the new Team Captain/Chief of the San Beda Red Corps. With the team under a new captain, Lauren promised to be the best team captain by looking after her teammates and will always hungry for new learning in her passion and sport.
“My motivation is my team and my managers na kahit magkakalayo kami, we never forget each other at kahit maglayo kami sa isat isa we still find ways para maging connected at maging solid parin yung samahan ng team.”
Lauren still didn’t know what’s next for her and the team but she wants to manage to have formal online training and a team program with the squad so they can train together and at the same time oversee each of her members.
Like an athlete, circumstances may arise, she was injured in the process of cheerleading but she kept her head high and aimed for the prize. It may be tough but for Lauren, “I learned that no matter how hard your every day was, you can pass it if you have the patience to learn and a strong mindset and don’t give up trusting the process until you overcome your fear to reach your goals.”
Lauren believes that as an athlete, no matter what happens to you in living your life with that sport you chose whether it is what you expected or not, quitting is never an answer.
“I promise to myself that no matter how difficult the situation is, I will do my best to become strong enough to face my fears and I will forget the pains of the past but remember their lessons and I also promise to my team that no injury can stop me performing and I’ll come back stronger and we will get the victory together,” Lauren promised.
These past years may be hard for Lauren but entering 2021 with great news of leading the team is a great payback for all her sacrifices and challenges she faced along the way.