As many athletes emailed, texted and privately mes¬saged me saying that they were inspired by the article of Ashley Marie Rances, a Grade 10 student from Bicol University.
Here’s the second part of her story:
“All these efforts, however, are not done in vain. In my five years of competitive swimming and with my disciplines in training, I’ve been through a lot of competitions, won and lost events, met a lot of new friends and traveled to many places. I was able to represent my city, my region and join the Palarong Pambansa three times already. I was, also, able to compete internationally. These are the perks of being a good swimmer.
However, my life as a swimmer is not all fun and games as many would think so. I believe it’s more about priorities. Although difficult, I try to balance my time between my sports activities and academic activities. Achieving success in both is not an ordinary feat. It requires discipline and a good balancing act on my part.
Yes, my studies are more important than swimming but both should be given time in order to succeed. In my opinion, everything done with hard work will pay back eventually.
When it comes to honing my academic and leadership skills, I am currently doing my best. I am currently the president of a major organization in school; and with my leadership, we conduct various activities that not only help our beneficiaries but also, further develop my leadership skills. We conducted interactive sessions for children with exceptionalities to boost their confidence and self-esteem.
With these interactive sessions, I was one of the two awardees of the prestigious 2015 Outstanding UNESCO Youth Leader of the Philippines given during the International Assembly of Youth for UNESCO on September 23, 2015.
Also, just recently, I was lucky enough to have been chosen as one of the ten awardees for the 2015 Gawad Albay sa Edu¬kasyon. Of these awar¬dees, I ranked second place in the much coveted Students with Excellence in Academics and Leadership Award sponsored by the Provincial Government of Albay. Never did I expect myself to win a search that needed a bucket-full of confidence and wit.
I guess I have swimming, again, to thank for. I was never a loud person. I was not fond of communicating with other people outside our school. I enhanced my social skills when I met other swimmers from other schools in our place and in other places whenever we had competitions. These social interactions boosted my self-confidence and helped me a lot in my oral communication skills. It was not easy balancing my time for academics and sports at my first year but I’ve been getting the hang of it as time passes by. This has made me acquire another valuable trait in life-discipline. I spend about three to four hours of my every day for swimming. I developed healthy habits like eating the right food, ensuring my body’s fit, and keeping a clear mind. All I know is that swimming has made me a calmer person. It hasn’t only changed my way of life but it has added a lot more to it. I would never have met great swim mates that I now consider family. I would never have known that I was capable of doing things that I don’t normally do. I would never have discovered and experienced a whole new world.
In a way, my sport and academic activities complemented one another. Without one or the other, life, for me, would be incomplete.”
Ashley is one of the 96 swimmers invited by Philippine Swimming League that will participate in 2017 World Universiade Games, Taipei, Taiwan.
She is a perfect example of a student-athlete built with character and education.