Forget London … here’s to Kalamazoo and Manila’s softball warriors
And they were probably so wiped out by that 35-hour trip that they lost their first two games.
Then, another blow – the city they were representing, their hometown on the other side of the world 8,000 miles away, was reeling from yet another flooding disaster.
The Manila team that competed in the Big League Softball World Series certainly didn’t have much going for them.
Many of us probably didn’t even know about them until recently.
When it came to Philippine sports, much of the attention was on the London Olympics where the Philippines had yet another forgettable performance.
Few were aware of the big showdown in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and the young Filipinas who were about to make history.
And it’s a story worth revisiting, even though I know it’s already been reported widely in the media. It’s just a fun story to retell.
Take Ana Santiago, the team’s coach who comes across as tough, but with a quirky sense of humor.
As the Michigan Live Web site reports, the night before Team Manila clinched the title with a 14-2 victory over Westchester, Calif., Santiago told the young women to “talk to your errors and tell your errors that they will be here in the meantime” in her room.
Now, that’s a smart coach.
Essentially, what she told players was: ‘Okay, I know you’re nervous. You have doubts. You’re worried about making mistakes and losing. So say hello to those worries and fears and doubts – and then tell them to take a hike.”
As the Michigan Live story reports, the team did have a couple of errors, but they were so overwhelming in the field they didn’t matter.
They even won the respect of the opposing team.
“They deserve (the title) – played hard, they fought back (from the early losses),” Darryl Lee, manager of the California team, told Michigan Live. “They lost the first two games and won seven in a row. They stayed hot all the way through.”
The nine women of Team Manila simply wouldn’t quit. They were the runner-up team in 2008, 2010 and 2011.
With the logistical woes highlighted by what can only be described as third-class travel arrangements, a disastrous start and the enormous psychological burden of the disaster unfolding in their homeland, it certainly would not have been surprising if they again failed to win the championship this year.
“After the two losses I told them, ‘No computers, no Internet, no cell phone. Just concentrate on the game,’” Santiago was quoted as saying in the Michigan Live report. “They sacrificed a lot this tournament, so tonight whatever they want, I will give to them.”
They deserve a victory parade in Manila – although that would probably be hard to do right now. In fact, Team Manila apparently wasn’t expecting one. Instead, they dedicated their victory to the nation and the victims of the flood.
Maybe there could still be a parade after the city recovers from the flood. These young women certainly deserve a bit more media attention for the courage they showed.
And for their spirit.
You can see it in their faces in a gallery of images on the Michigan Live site from the final game.
You see them smiling and jumping for joy. There’s Krisna Paguican flashing the ‘We’re No. 1’ sign and waving the Philippine flag in the middle of the field. There’s Ana Santiago being hoisted by her players.
One photo seemed out of synch in the gallery. But it made me chuckle. It shows coach Rafael Borromeo with a grim expression on his face. The caption says he was “watching the game closely, making sure his team doesn’t get a big head.”
It was early in the game. Manila was ahead 8 – 0.
There was nothing to worry about. Manila’s softball warriors weren’t going to let this one get away.
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