Four years ago, when Hans Sy took over the administration of National University, one of the first things he observed with the school was the apparent lack of drive, and the hesitance to compete against the other big universities in Manila, be it in curricular or other co-curricular activities. The students of NU lacked a competitive desire, a sense of pride and hence, lacked the attachment and loyalty to the school. This was evident in the academic and non-academic performance of NU’s recent graduates.
The traditionalists in the school offered a simple reason: the discouraging enrollment numbers which pegged the school population then at roughly 1,000, and still diminishing. With lesser students, you have lesser talents, and thus, lesser chances of winning. You also end up with lesser quality professors aspiring to join the faculty. This leads to a vicious cycle of sub-par performances, losing and producing more losers. This losers’ image was particularly evident in the UAAP sports competition, where NU had been the traditional doormats for decades.
Hans contemplated on the problem at hand, and decided to make a bold move. CHANGE THE GAME. Hans figured that instead of ‘increasing the enrollment in order to win’, why not ‘win in order to increase the enrollment’? Hans believed – and rightfully so – that you can’t get your enrollment to go up unless you have success stories to show.
So he singled out the NU sports system as a key ingredient to his NU ‘recovery program’. And he started recruiting winners. He recruited business friends who would manage the programs (he knew he couldn’t do that on his own), who started recruiting talents (sports administrators, coaches, players), who in turn started fixing the individual sports programs.
A case in point is the NU Pep Squad. Since time immemorial, NU was just an inconsequential radar bleep in the UAAP Cheerdancing Competition. Hans approached his friend, Poch Chunsim of the Macro Industrial Corporation, for help with the pep squad. It so happened that Poch was also angling to find some outlet for his competitive juices. Poch gladly took on the managerial post, and the rest is history.
Poch plucked out Ghereeka Mae Bernabe from FEU to take on the task of turning around NU’s ho-hum cheerdancing program. This was in 2010. She brought in a young and dynamic staff composed of Gabby Bajacan, Rachel Joy De Guzman, Jun Ocampo and Karl Pabilonia. A conditioning coach, Neil Banaag, came in. So with nutritionist Glenna Bernabe. Hey, you want high standards? Bring in professional, quality people. And Ghereeka started recruiting young student-athletes from the Palarong Pambansa.
In 2011, NU placed 6th out of 8 UAAP school competitors, a modest improvement from their dark and dreary cellar-dwelling days. Last year, NU signaled their intent to go for the gold, settling for bronze against perennial tops, UP and FEU. Last March, Ghereeka led her wards to the National Cheerdance Championship, a first for the NU Pep Squad!
This Sunday, NU is poised to challenge the UP ‘Pep Squad ng Bayan’, which will have the entire white-wearing UP community backing them up, at the Mall of Asia for the UAAP Season 76 Cheerdance Competition. The Samsung-sponsored competition promises to be an exciting one, with UP and FEU aware and prepared for the NU challenge. With these three teams upping the ante, plus the likes of UST, Ateneo, La Salle, UE and Adamson not willing to be outcheered, outdanced and outdone, expect MOA to go rockin’ and rollin’ this Sunday.
And oh, by the way, what happened to NU’s enrollment? This year, enrollment has gone up to 5,000 plus, for a 400% jump! A far cry from the 1,000 plus from four years ago, thanks to Hans’ bold reverse-engineering move.
So shall we see each other at the MOA this Sunday? Ang hindi magpunta sa MOA ngayong Linggo, pangit!!!