The lingering presence of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to bring so much pain and suffering to the Filipino people.
In the context of the UAAP, there are a lot of student-athletes who failed to have their swansongs with their respective schools, one of which is De La Salle University skipper Jed Diamante.
“Being engaged in a team sport made me appreciate the value of collaboration,” reflected the Davao native. “We can achieve greater things when we communicate effectively and work harmoniously with others. We must allow others to fill our gaps, and we should enrich others using what we’re great as. As athletes, we are built to stand up stronger after every fall. The value of resilience helps me welcome challenges as opportunities to learn and grow.
“The most significant lesson that sports taught me is respect. Acknowledging the value of others deeply influences how I relate to them. As the Mindanao Peace Games perfectly puts it, ‘Kalaro kita, hindi kalaban,’ for the purpose of competition in every context is not to put others down but to build each other up.”
The former youth national team player finished Civil Engineering degree with a Summa Cum Laude designation alongside multiple awards such as Gold Thesis, Outstanding Civil Engineering Student Achievement, UAAP Season 82 Athlete Scholar of the Year, the Eduardo M. Cojuangco Jr. Excellence award for Leadership and Research Innovation and Gawad Lim Eng Beng.
As a person who has received honors on and off the pitch, Diamante refuses to rest on his laurels. He is fully focused on putting one of his biggest dreams into fruition – despite the inevitable problems that lay ahead.
“So far, the goal is to establish an engineering firm that specializes in transportation research, planning, and design. There is much for me to learn and experience to achieve, and I look forward to the journey with enthusiasm,” said the 23-year-old.
“Transportation is essential to every person, and I’m passionate about contributing to this space. I’m interested in helping establish safer, more efficient, and more reliable public transportation systems and policies that are research-based to improve mobility within cities.”
As a Green Archer, Diamante earned awards such as the UAAP Season 78 Rookie of the Year, UAAP Season 80 Best Midfielder, and UAAP Season 81 Midfielder. The UAAP championship itself, though, proved elusive as the closest he got to winning it was in Season 81, where La Salle folded to archrivals Ateneo 1-2 after extra time in the finals.
However, missing out on the UAAP title was not the biggest regret for the Ateneo De Davao high school product but the fact that he was a year late in joining the La Salle team as it had both his older siblings Gio and Gelo in its lineup in Season 77. All three siblings were so highly thought of by their coaches that they were named captains in their stints with the program.
“Had the UAAP extended the playing years to seven years back in 2015, I would have been able to represent the Green and White and share the field with both my brothers. What an experience that would have been,” said Diamante.
“Other than that, the entire student-athlete grind, with all the sweet victories and humbling defeats, was essential in molding me into the person that I am today. They were some of the best years of my life, and I enjoyed every moment without regret.”
Before the erstwhile Kaya youth player formally graduated, though, he already started to make waves in the real world. He is a co-author of the book ‘Winning Still’ alongside 26 other sportspersons who reflected about life during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,
“The book highlights 27 different perspectives – some from well-respected coaches and Olympians – on what winning is, how it feels, and what it looks like amidst these challenging times. Contrary to the image of victory we have in mind, the chapters reveal more intimate moments of how we can keep ‘Winning Still’: learning to take the lead, overcoming obstacles, experiencing a deeper connection with the self, and many more,” explained Diamante.
“Although the collaborators are from the sports community, the content’s reach goes well beyond it. Regardless of age and background, readers will be able to relate to at least one story and pick up nuggets of wisdom worth embracing in their lives.”
With the world ahead of him and so many difficulties in store, life is only about to get harder for Diamante now that he is out of the comfort zones of La Salle and the UAAP. Nevertheless, he accepts the tough road in front of him and he would not have it any other way.
“The student-athlete grind was nonstop. I learned how to set my priorities and have the discipline to follow through with my duties. Before saying yes to a responsibility – whether it be on or off the field – I made sure to attach a purpose to it so that fulfilling it became a mission rather than just a task. Of course, I’m very grateful to the people who helped me grow throughout the years I spent in DLSU,” he said.
“The collaboration and support played a major role in helping me reach where I am today.”