From indefinite postponements to an eventual cancellation, the UAAP has found itself lost in uncharted waters – facing the uncertainty of sports in the time of a pandemic.
Despite efforts to close out the season’s home stretch, the association eventually followed suit with the rest of the sporting world and made the unprecedented move to scrap the remainder of the season — a course of action last taken in 1941 during World War II that forbade any form of sporting activity to take place.
For the entire UAAP community, an unfinished season is a tough pill to swallow.
Countless months of hard work and preparation for the second semester student-athletes will not have any culmination, and fans will no longer be treated to a euphoric ending in what was set to be another fruitful year of sports and action.
All that remains for now is the memory of a season that was, and the thought of a season that could have been. Much shorter than everything turned out to be, our very own Fighting Maroons still gave the UP community a year to remember with last-minute thrillers, heart-pounding moments, and pride-filled memories.
Now, we break down this rollercoaster of a season for the maroon-and-white with key numbers that defined a season of epic breakthroughs and bitter downfalls.
The number two has traces of both glory and defeat in State U’s campaign.
UP capped off the season with second place finishes in men’s judo and women’s swimming. The winning teams also took home added bonuses with Maroon Judoka Jayvee Ferrer and Lady Tanker Erin Castrillo both being named Rookie of the Year in their respective fields.
The silver medal run of the UP Varsity Swim Team (UP VST), led by team captain Yssa Pogiongko, alongside Ariana Canaya, Angela Villamil and Kayla Taguibao, became even sweeter as they were able to finish the Women’s Freestyle Relay with a record-setting time of 01:53.19 — just 2.9 seconds clear of their own record previously set in 2013.
The team’s victorious campaign was no easy task as the university swimming pool was closed for renovation — concurrent with the construction of the UP Sports Complex. But even in the toughest of circumstances, the UP VST were still able to conquer a difficult road en route to a record-breaking medal finish.
On the flip side, the UP Men’s Basketball Team (UP MBT) were denied a return trip to the finals and capped off a promising championship bid in third place, after falling prey to the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers in the stepladder semifinals. The heartbreaking exit for UP MBT came despite securing a twice-to-beat advantage in the elimination round.
As the world came to an abrupt halt due to COVID-19, two ongoing sports were cancelled and could no longer resume in the foreseeable future. UP only played twice in men’s football and once in women’s football, while two matches each were played in both volleyball tournaments.
A gallant stand by the Fighting Maroons who represented the university with honor and excellence led to a fourth-place finish in the general championship.
From the 19 point-scoring events held, the Diliman-based squads yielded 137 points to the overall tally – 65 from the men’s division, 62 in the women’s, and 10 in the lone coed competition (poomsae).
One of UAAP’s biggest highlights, the annual Cheerdance Competition (CDC), was held just a few months before the season stoppage. The UP Pep Squad illuminated school pride with its #MaMaWaTaKK theme, which stands for the university’s battlecry “Matatapang, matatalino, walang takot kahit kanino!”
From establishing a reign of dominance, having been part of the podium in every installment of the competition since 1995 and holding the record for most podium appearances (20), this season now marks the fourth consecutive season UP lands outside the top three in the CDC which comes after their controversial no-show in 2016 and three straight sixth place results.
Just days after the CDC, redemption came early for UP Pep Squad as they took center stage once more in the 2019 Cheerleading World Championships in Takasaki, Japan where they bagged two medals for the country — a silver for the All Female Team Cheer event and a bronze for the Mixed Group Stunts event. The team scored fourth-place finishes as well in the cheerdance, mixed team cheers, and all female small group stunts events.
Out of seven medal wins for the Fighting Maroons, five bronze medals were added to the total haul.
UP copped a series of third place wins in men’s basketball, men’s chess, women’s taekwondo, poomsae for the second year running, and women’s judo.
Season 82 was ever-so special for both the Diliman-based judokas as they were the only maroon-and-white team to win a medal in both the men’s and women’s tournaments. Alongside the men’s team finishing in second, the women’s team secured third place to complete the only double podium finish for the maroon-and-white this season.
In women’s badminton, the Lady Shuttlers have a different story to tell as they previously held a five-year podium streak before missing out on a medal finish this year by a single position as they wrapped up their Season 82 campaign in fourth. The team won the tournament thrice from Seasons 77 to 79 and had back-to-back runner-up results in Seasons 80 and 81.
The unfortunate number ten represents the unwanted aftermath of a disrupted season.
Ten events in the seniors’ division were ultimately cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic — eight of these were tournament events and now missed opportunities to win more points in the general championship, while two other events were demonstration and performance sports which would have marked the conclusion of Season 82.
Softball, baseball, athletics, lawn tennis, and the debut of 3×3 basketball as a medal event were the five compromised sports that did not have a single game day this year.
The penultimate ballroom formation dance event and the streetdance competition both had to be called off, as well. The UP Ballroom Formation Dance team are the current back-to-back champions in the Latin America category, and reigning silver medalists in the Standard category after winning the event in 2016. For the first time since its 2011 debut, the UP Streetdance Club missed out on the podium in 2019 as they finished fourth.
After three long years, the shattered number is 38.
The UP Women’s Basketball Team (UP WBT) scored its biggest and most emotional win in recent memory as they emerged victorious for the first time after a 38-game losing streak. It was a triumph like no other as team captain Pesky Pesquera dropped 13 points, topped by a miracle half court buzzer-beating shot to finally end their losing drought and score a well-deserved W against the University of the East Lady Warriors.
Midway through the season, 47 alumni and present members of the UP community had the distinct honor of joining the host nation’s delegation in the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. 38 of them are Fighting Maroons varsity members who were chosen to raise our flag in the biennial regional meet — a strong indication of how the UP varsity programs continue to build and hone a multitude of talented athletes that soar onward to greater heights.
As the world faces a bigger battle with COVID-19, the country’s collegiate sporting community will soon have its eyes set and locked in on Season 83 of the UAAP.
It may seem that the upcoming season now lies as the primary concern of the UAAP in the midst of the pandemic, but after nearly two decades of media partnership with ABS-CBN, the association faces another uphill battle in finding a new broadcast deal in light of their home network’s franchise denial on July 10.
Not only will this jeopardize the new season, but it may pose an even bigger dilemma in finding long-tenured means to continue providing opportunities for up-and-coming student-athletes to compete and represent their schools with honor and pride.
Amid growing concerns on the UAAP’s longevity, we now begin to embark on a journey towards moving past a handful of what-ifs that the halted season left behind — one that will definitely be a long and difficult ride with looming doubts and fears.
For now, one thing is for sure: UP, the country, and the world will continue to fight amid uncertainty in this pandemic. Nothing is written in stone for the near future, but when the time comes that sports finally return to the ‘new normal’, we will be steadfast and united to fight even harder.
We will fight for more, all for more.