ANSWERING THE CLARION call of guiding the next generation of Bedan athletes, former San Beda University (SBU) standout players, Ralph Penuela and Justine Lapid share the one-of-a-kind journey they took as they transition to the coaching field. 

The path of being a player to a coach is often less traveled, as many Bedan athletes dream of pursuing a professional career after their playing years in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). 

However, Coach Ralph, being a former team captain of the San Beda Red Lions, is no stranger to leadership on the court. 

Coach Ralph’s playing career was made meaningful by his achievements, earning a spot on the Mythical 5 at the 2020 Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL) in his first year and steering the Red Lions to a final four appearance in the shortened NCAA Season 97. 

But when asked about his decision to become a coach, Coach Ralph shares, “Noong dumating yung pandemic, napag-isipan ko na, ano kaya kung wala yung basketball sa akin? Sino ako kung wala yung basketball?” 

During this time of reflection, he discovered a newfound purpose in helping others, as he expressed “Yung pandemic na ‘yon parang nagbigay na rin sa akin ng time ‘to na makita ko yung purpose ko na mas-gusto kong tumulong sa marami, sa mas nakararami.”  

Coaching, for him, became a way to help other individuals grow, seeing his players as an extended family and understanding that a strong rapport with them is essential for their growth as both athletes and individuals. 

Although he admits that it took time to adjust to the demands and expectations of coaching, Coach Ralph holds on to how he values the opportunity to set an example for his players highlighting the importance of discipline, teamwork, and unselfishness. 

On the other hand, for Coach Justine Lapid, the shift from student-athlete to coach was unexpected. Nonetheless, Coach Justine attested how it became an undeniably fulfilling and meaningful endeavor. 

As the former team captain of the San Beda Lady Red Spikers, Coach Justine was recognized throughout her Bedan athlete journey, which spanned from NCAA Seasons 95 to 97.  

While many talented players dreamt of going professional after college, Coach Justine’s motivation to become a coach was deeply rooted in her desire to give back to the community that supported her throughout her collegiate volleyball journey. Coach Justine recalled the significant role played by her coaching staff during her playing years as the inspiration for her undertaking the current coaching role.   

“Our coaching staff during my playing years provided unwavering support, helping us not only as players but also as individuals, instilling in us the Bedan spirit of success in our chosen paths,” she articulated. 

Furthermore, reflecting on her journey as a student-athlete, as a coach, Coach Justine passionately employs collaborative coaching, believing that a motivating coach just like the ones who inspired her, plays a pivotal role in enhancing both the skills and attitudes of players.  

Coach Justine aims to be a guide to her players not only to become better athletes but also exemplary Bedan students and future professionals. 

Learning from her playing years common issues within the team that pose a challenge, Coach Justine prioritizes open and transparent communication, creating a safe space for everyone to share their thoughts regarding training and games. 

Looking ahead, Coach Ralph and Coach Justine envisions their legacy within their players, players with the ‘Bedan pride’ deeply instilled in their hearts. With both coaches aspiring to witness their teams’ success in the near future, the players-turned-coaches expressed their heartfelt gratitude to the San Beda community, and pledged to give their best to repay the trust given to them and make the community proud. 

(with Rizian Veniz Balleta)