Ana Santiago has achieved plenty in her stellar coaching career.
Arguably the greatest head coach in the collegiate scene these days, the proud Adamson product — who is the protege of late great Boy Codinera — has 14 UAAP championships under her belt.
Besides this, she has won countless Southeast Asian Games gold medals both as a coach and, before, as a player.
But what is her greatest feat?
During June 27 episode of So She Did! presented by SMART Sports, hosts Martie Bautista and Trina Guytingco asked Santiago what is ‘more important’ for her — winning nine-straight UAAP championships or seeing her student-athletes graduate?
Her answer was simple.
“Having student-athletes finish their degree.”
After all, when Santiago recruits her players, she always makes a promise to the prospect’s parents.
“When I recruited them for Adamson, I always promise to their parents na ‘Gragraduate po ‘yung anak niyo’. Na don’t worry, I will guide your daughter hanggang makatapos siya ng pag-aaral,” she continued.
“So para kasi sa akin, every time na makikita ko ‘yung parents na pumupunta ng school para umattend ng graduation ng kanilang anak, mas mahalaga ‘yun kesa sa mga championship trophy na nakuha ko.”
During her time as head coach of Adamson, over 300 Lady Falcons played under her. Safe to say, almost all of them were able to finish their courses.
But that does not mean that winning chips has gotten old for Santiago. It’s just that for her, less than half of the battle for a coach takes place on the diamond.
“As coach nila, as much as possible, ayokong umiiyak talaga sa harapan ng mga players. Alam ng mga players ko ‘yan, pero sometimes hindi mo siya mapigilan so talagang tears of joy, makikita mo sila na accept their diplomas, then you will hear from their parents say, ‘Thank you, coach. Naka-graduate na ‘yung anak ko, thank you sa pag-aalaga.’
“Because sabi ko nga, napaka-emotional ng mga babae, five years kami magkakasama. 16 or 17 years old nasa akin na sila, so along the way talagang maraming problema. Pero worth it kapag nakikita mo silang successful. Ako ang unang nagiging happy para sa kanila kapag nakikita ko kung ano ‘yung nangyari sa kanila looking back noong 16 years old pa lang sila, then now kung ano na sila ngayon,” she said.