Teaching never stops for this coach

You would see her delivering instructions from the sidelines of the Rebisco Volleyball League 2018 National Finals with a fiery demeanor. But for Holy Rosary College head coach Lerma Giron, it is all about making sure that her player continually learn even in game.

It is this insatiable appetite for the game that allowed Giron to relay her passion for volleyball to the Rhinos. But why does she have unlimited energy to correct and teach? Because she herself acquired a lot of knowledge from a number of volleyball luminaries.

A student of the game

Giron was inspired to play volleyball by the last Philippine women’s volleyball team to win the gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games. “Na-inspire ako maglaro ng volleyball noong napanood ko sina Thelma Barina and Bernadette Burcelis noon. Na kahit hindi ganoon katangad eh ang lalakas nila pumalo,” the HRC Rhinos head coach shared.

Devoting her time and effort to the sport, Giron persevered to become one of the top players for the then-Holy Rosary Academy (now Holy Rosary College). However, she was not heavily recruited coming out of high school. With the support of her parents, she decided to try-out for either Far Eastern University and University of Santo Tomas due to their rivalry at that time. “Noong panahon na ‘yun, UST at FEU lang ang naglalaban sa UAAP. Gusto ko makasali sa ganun,” Giron shared.

She eventually chose to try-out for UST wherein the odds were not in her favor. “Mga 50 kami na nag-try out na walk in pero lima lang kami na natanggap,” she revealed. When asked what made her stood out, she answered, “Siguro yun passion ko for the sport talaga. Na kahit mahirap pero gusto mo, kakayanin mo.”

The playing coach

Giron played under legendary coach August Sta. Maria who she and her teammates fondly called “Boss”. It was through him that she learned the defensive patterns that she now imparts onto her players.

But by her fourth year in UST, her playing time dwindled because Coach Sta. Maria assigned her to be a scout. “Siyempre nagtaka ko bakit kumokonti ang playing time ko. Tapos ayun, ina-assign na ako mag-scout. First time ko mag-scout for UST sa Unigames sa Bacolod.” With an experience in dissecting the tendencies of opposing teams and players, she got more accustomed in drawing tactics from the bench. Add to that her Bachelor’s degree in Education and Giron had enough training to teach.

A mentor that constantly learns

Aside from her college coach, Giron also credits UE Lady Warriors head coach Francis Vicente for mentoring her well about in-game tactics and analysis. She continues to learn from what she sees and imparts those to her players. When asked where she enjoys teaching the game, she answered, “Mas masaya magturo sa high school kasi ituturo mo talaga lahat at mababantayan mo yun pag-improve ng bata. Hindi naman sa hindi masaya mag-coach ng college. Pero, medyo independent na kasi players doon kahit na may dapat ka pa din i-tama.

With assistant head coaching stints at UE and Adamson University, Giron told that she continues to learn from the changes in the sport. “Ngayon, dapat mo na pagtuunan ng pansin yun fast play and fast setting. Dahil diyan, malakas na chance mo manalo kapag magaling ang setter mo. Dati, spikers ang nagdadala ng laro kaya kapag mas malakas pumalo, mananalo ka.” Her players will definitely benefit from every nugget of wisdom she can pick up.

How she finds and trains players

Giron puts emphasis onto the attitude and commitment of a potential player. Attitude in the sense of having her values intact and her desire to dream. Once that is in place, she finds out if the player is committed to being a student-athlete because it’s no joke being one. “Lagi ko tinatanong ang mga players ko kung kaya pa nila. Kasi naman hindi biro ang nagtatraining ka tapos papasok sa school. Minsan, kailangan mo din maghabol ng klase and project kapag may tournament,” she shared.

But while the rigors of playing for school and studying are real, she constantly teaches her players about its benefits in the long run. “Lagi ko sila nire-remind na hindi lang kayo atleta. Ang volleyball pwede mawala, ang napag-aralan hindi.” Once the right mindset is in place, they then undergo training and practice.

The Rhinos’ practice sessions are usually from 5-7 am daily. It is usually divided into 30 minutes warm-up, 30 minutes court drills, and an hour for reviewing their system. It is in that final hour that they work on team play especially when tournaments are coming up. With a regimen like this, it’s no wonder that her players have performed well during the Rebisco Volleyball League 2018 National Finals. Likewise, her core of Maveth Torres, Venice Puzon, Lency Angeline Duarte, and RVL Nationals 2018 Best Opposite Attacker Aliah Marce have been invited to reinforce the Colegio San Agustin Binan Raptors in the PSL Collegiate Grand Slam 2018.

Life lessons and dreams

Even though her players are starting to get noticed on television and by collegiate coaches, Giron always emphasizes the desire to learn more. “Maging laging gutom sila sa pagkatuto. Hindi ibig sabihin na nakapag-Palarong Pambansa ka na, hindi ka na magsusumikap,” she responded. That’s the reason why she is very thankful of the Rebisco Volleyball League because it helps young players like her Rhinos to improve their decision making in-court.

As the RVL provides a platform for aspiring volleyball players to showcase their talent, Giron will continue to develop and train new talent from her home province of Laguna. “Hindi ka nagre-recruit outside Laguna kasi kapag nandito, matututukan mo. Tsaka mas nakakaproud yun kapag yun mga players ng Laguna yun nakakasali sa malalaking competition.”

She may raise her voice at times during coaching huddles. But if you assess what she is saying, it’s unmistakable that Lerma Giron loves what she is doing. That same love for the game is what she wants to spark from her players so that it won’t be impossible for them to reach greater heights. And when her current crop of players leave, she will continue to teach the game as long as there are young ladies willing to learn.