Limpag: UC’s off-court chase

CHASING a title in college hoops is a good thing but for me, when you aim for a different title, one that involves academics, that’s a better target. The title will just be an added incentive.

The University of Cebu (UC) returned to its old mindset when it got Kern Sesante back as head coach. The young Sesante was doing well, transforming the mindset of the UC basketball team--and its whole athletic program itself--when he got replaced by the legendary Yayoy Alcoseba.

Coach Yayoy had three years to add to his growing collection of Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. crowns but the breaks didn’t go his way.

With Sesante back, I don’t think UC has a better chance of adding to its June Mar Fajardo-era titles but the school has a better chance of producing quality athletes.

Athletes who know where the classroom is.

That was UC’s mantra before the arrival of Coach Yayoy and the school didn’t even bother to get an import with then athletic director Baldomero Estenzo preferring to give scholarships to locals.

I’ve always admired that and even admirable is Sesante’s new instruction from Estenzo--one failed subject and you’re off the team. The Cesafi isn’t that strict when it comes to academics, requiring athletes to pass only 60 percent of their subjects but some schools have rules of their own to make sure athletes don’t neglect their studies.

It’s good now that UC is also adopting its own rules on academics and taking care of the students first in student-athletes.

The players can’t have a better role model in Sesante, a cum laude graduate and a product of the university.

Some schools also have a mentorship program for their student-athletes, while others monitor their performances in the classroom. These things, I’m afraid, tend to get overlooked when the focus is solely on the championship.

“There are many ways to skin a cat,” my favorite math teacher in high school loved to say. That was almost 30 years ago and I still remember how he kept saying that to encourage everyone to look for solutions outside the box.

Thirty years from now, we’d forget who won this year’s Cesafi crown but I think the current members of the UC basketball program will remember Sesante and Estenzo for the things they’ve taught them outside the court.