Francis Vicente is known around volleyball circles as a star maker.
He once coached a University of Santo Tomas Junior Tigresses team that had future stars on the roster like Alyssa Valdez, the Santiago sisters, and Kim Fajardo to name a few.
Vicente has had success coaching his club team, the Philips Gold Lady Slammers, in the PSL, and once mentored the National Men’s team.
But his stint with the University of the East Lady Warriors has been hard to watch, to say the least.
Last season, Vicente took over when UE had lost 31 straight matches. That streak is now up to 52 after their loss to the Adamson University Lady Falcons last Saturday. UE have only won two sets since Vicente took over.
But that shouldn’t affect Vicente’s reputation as a coach. Vicente has recruited promising talents over his past two seasons, literally rebuilding UE from scratch. Now with a team filled with rookies and sophomores, Vicente is aware of the growing pains his girls will have to endure.
“Part ng building process ng isang team yan – na meron silang kaunting gulo. Lahat kasi gusto mag-contribute. Ang problema, ‘yung contribution hindi na masyadong healthy. Parang pang-sarili, it’s not helping the team,” Vicente told Tiebreaker Times.
Vicente also admits to the difficulty of motivating his players when there are multiple people off the court chirping their opinions. It prevents his team from gaining any mental cohesion, he says.
“Mahirap kasi kapag maraming tao sa paligid na iba-iba ‘yung opinion. ‘Yung sa fans, normal ‘yun, ‘yung sa mga taong nahihingahan nila ng sama ng loob. Imbis na tumapang ‘yung bata, lalo pang lumalambot. Kasi kung coach lang ang pakikinggan, malamamg yan tumibay na,” Vicente remarked adding that in countries like Japan, teams would resort to complete isolation from external factors to focus on volleyball.
“Sa Philippine setting kasi parang hindi appropriate ‘yun. Sa Japan, ganoon ‘yung ginagawa ng mga team na gusto magchampion,” Vicente added, after telling a story of the team’s training in the seclusion of mountains without connection to the outside world.
UE’s losing streak has affected his personal life, Vicente concedes. However, he refuses to let his team be affected by his own fatigue.
“Affected ako. Kung ako ‘yung nagpa-apekto, that would be very sad. Pwedeng bumitaw ka na dahil nakakahiya na. Pwedeng ituloy mo pa para maabot ‘yung dapat mong maabot,” he said. “Mahal ko ‘yung mga bata. Siyempre, mga anak ko yan. Hindi naman ako ‘yung tipo ng coach na nagtatanggal ng player kapag panget ang performance. I have that conscience pa rin,” Vicente continued when asker what keeps him going.
For UE to finally break their streak, they will need to shed their losing mentality and be confident that they can win every match they go into.
“Iba kasi ang pinagdaanan nila. Parang hirap na hirap pa rin sila alisin ‘yung mga nasa nakaraan na siguro traumatic for them. Kailangan magulang ka sa kanila, at the same time coach ka, at the same time kaibigan ka – lahat, kailangan nila noon. Kung hindi mo binigay ‘yun, magrerebelde sila sayo,” Vicente closed.