As the lead tactician of the formidable DLSU Lady Spikers, head coach Ramil De Jesus has built a dynasty in UAAP volleyball as an envoy extraordinaire for the Green-and-White. Dating back to the year 1996, De Jesus began his stint with La Salle where he brought the Lady Spikers to a fifth-place finish in the 60th edition of the UAAP. Since then, the team from Taft has earned a total of 11 UAAP titles under the guidance of De Jesus.
Needless to say, the Lasallian community and volleyball fans alike were astonished when the head coach announced at a press conference last March 29 that Season 81 will be his last season in the UAAP, “Sa tingin ko sapat na ang mga nagawa ko para sa La Salle.” The LaSallian sits down with the legendary mentor as he bares his plans post-UAAP.
(I think what I’ve done for La Salle is enough.)
Memories and victories remembered
“Masakit man sa akin [na umalis] dahil napamahal na sa akin ang team, dadating at dadating talaga tayo sa ganitong pagkakataon kahit ano pa mang mangyari,” De Jesus says smiling as a mix of contentment and solace becomes evident in his usual strong and fierce expression.
(It may hurt for me to leave a team I grew to love, but we will eventually arrive at this occurrence occurrence.)
In only his third year after recruitment, De Jesus had already transformed the ladies into their championship stature in UAAP Season 62. Afterwards, he brought the team into its first grand slam victory from seasons 66 to 68, which was followed by a medal place finish in Season 71. Immediately after that, another three-peat from seasons 73 to 75 was listed in UAAP volleyball history under his mentoring. This time around, he is aiming for the team to hit their four-peat target, which will become another milestone for the entirety of his career and the team’s record as well.
Dedicating almost 23 years of his life to being a Lasallian coach is no time travelling scheme as the mentor of the Lady Spikers stuck with them throughout the years, watching players start and end their collegiate careers under his wing. With this in mind, the coach openly admits that he isn’t getting any younger at any point in time. “‘Di na ako bata, so gusto ko na din magpahinga,”
(I’m not young anymore, I want to rest already as well.)
“Mami-miss ko yung araw-araw training sa Razon syempre at lalong lalo na yung feeling na mananalo kayo tuwing game at lalo na kapag championship ‘yun,” the 11-time champion coach shared. “Pero at least hindi na ako magagalit pa dahil sa kanila,” he jokingly adds to lighten the atmosphere as everyone
(Of course I will miss the everyday trainings at Razon, most especially the feeling of winning during a game most especially if it’s a championship.)
(But at least I won’t get mad anymore because of them.)
On their beloved coach’s retirement
“In coach Ramil we trust” is a championship-winning mantra and principle tested and true, cemented by his years honing raw talent in the UAAP into well-known athletes in the professional league. UAAP Season 76 Most Valuable Player (MVP) Ara Galang, who remains to be in MVP form in the Philippine professional volleyball league, tells of the coach who helped kickstart her career, “Kung sa 100 percent na meron ako ngayon, more than half noon ay dahil kay coach. Ngayon na magre-retire na siya, wala akong masabi kundi thank you. Thank you, coach, wala ako kung wala ka.”
(With the 100 percent I have now, more than half before was possible because of coach. Now that he’s retiring, I have nothing else to say but thank you. Thank you, coach, I’m nothing without you.)
Despite this, De Jesus ensured he will not waver as the Lady Spikers’ head coach until they reach the four-peat everyone is hoping for the team. Although, with the announcement, Noel Orcullo, his assistant coach, will take over his place for the next season according to the University’s Office of Sports and Development (OSD).
All of the batches Coach Ramil has led are inarguably special. Team Captain Desiree Cheng, however, shares how strange but all the more momentous it is to be the last team to be under the coach. “Sobrang weird ng feeling. Growing up in this team, you get used to the fact na he is always there. Pero at the same time, yung fact na kayo na yung last, it pushes us to give our best so that he can end his DLSU run on a high note.” Carrying the sentiments of the team—and probably of all the past batches—Cheng expresses further the girls’ reverence to coach Ramil, “We will always look up to you, coach. We’re gonna do our best to make you proud one last time.”