By: Justin Valencia
RP Blu Girls infielder Gel Ursabia has been working with legendary softball coach Ana Santiago since 2013 — the former’s rookie year in Adamson University.
After the UAAP Season 79 co-athlete of the year graduated in 2017, she immediately joined Santiago’s coaching staff of the Lady Falcons, who were then gunning for an eight straight title.
The pride of Polomolok, South Cotabato also made waves in the international scene as part of the 11th-ranked Blu Girls.
With seven years in the bag for the two, their bond eventually grew into something bigger than a coach-player relationship, with the 24-year-old slugger treating Santiago as her “second mom”.
“Parang naging second mom ko na si Ate Ana kasi alam niyang wala na ‘yung mom ko. Parang natatakot ako sa kanya minsan kasi feel ko siya na ‘yung mom ko.
“Simula noong rookie season ko pa lang sa Adamson, siya na ‘yung nagtayo sa akin. Nandiyan siya nung natapos ako nung college, nandiyan pa rin siya ngayong assistant coach na ako ng Adamson,” said the 2019 Asia Cup Women’s Softball Best Hitter and Slugger during last Saturday’s episode of So She Did, presented by SMART Sports.
But even with their bond already in its seventh year, Ursabia has no words to mince on how Santiago treats her wards.
“Ate Ana naman po is very supportive, pero hindi niya kami ini-ispoil. Si Ate Ana talaga is very fair sa team. Wala akong masabi sa kanya.”
The Adamson head coach responded positively, giving importance to her personal relationship with the players outside the playing field.
“Alam nilang lahat ‘yan na ‘pag talagang nasa training, strict talaga ako. Pero ‘pag nasa labas kami, more friends,” said the mentor who hails from Kawit, Cavite.
“Ang relationship namin talagang family so usually, instead of Coach Ana, ang itawag nila sa akin, Ate nga ang tawag nila sa akin.”