“She is the best coach I have ever met. She stays with us almost 24/7. She is super kind and caring like a real mom to us. I believe with her around, this is my best CavRAA ever.” Jaypee U. Magaru (Highest Individual Pointer – four gold medals for individual and two gold medals for relay in the Swimming Competition, 2017 CaVRAA in the City of Ilagan. He is a two-time Palarong Pambansa Qualifier. He is a Grade 11 student of Isabela Sports Senior High School.)
Mrs. Myla Abad is Teacher 1 of Cabatuan National High School. At present, she serves as Career Advocate for Junior High School and an adviser of the Supreme Student Government (SSG). Previously, she served as school paper adviser of The PIONEER (Official Student Publication of Cabatuan National High School) and journalism coach.
“I think the hardest part of it is the thought that while I try to be the best coach, my sons at home are trying their best not to miss me. That I am all they have while my husband is working abroad but I am not there.” Myla, 29, is a mother of two boys namely Rain Eugene, 8 years old, and Enrico Miguel, 5 years old. She is married to Eugene Abad, an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Taiwan.
The fiery spirit of winning coach Myla T. Abad, who recently seized her ticket to Palarong Pambansa, is fuelled not just by bringing pride to her hometown, but by her love for her sons and her newly found ones (athletes). She compares herself with an OFW who left her children at home to take care of someone else’s children. It was hard, but she needed to do it. It wasn’t just a calling. She believes it was her destiny.
The cross-fielder coach was once a writer and adviser of a school publication, and never had imagined that she would step foot at the CaVRAA arena as a sports coach. Myla was a first timer but, as she remarked in one of her interviews, “innate potential might be a factor, but hard work is always the key, so I make hard work a habit.” Her sacrifices indeed have paid off.
“It never occurred to me that sports will be the reason for me to go to a lot of places. When I was younger, I told myself, sainyo na ang sports, sa akin na ang academics,” expressing surprise on her new field of coaching.
“This is a sense of destiny. Kung iisipin, hindi naman ako magaling sa swimming, maybe I am good at motivating athletes, but I didn’t expect that one of my destinies is to become a swimming coach.”
Myla expressed her amazement at the hard work of Isabeleño swimmers. She even revealed that she felt they are already part of her family who helped her survive the longing for her two sons left at home.
“Though in our sport, you couldn’t possibly identify whether the swimmers are sweating terribly because they are under water, I am a witness to all their pains. We might have come from different towns, and were once strangers to each other, but now I embrace them like my own family.”
“I have seen the ordinary lives of these kids, have known their amazing stories, and have witnessed the unconditional love they have for their families. The small incentive they have out of the medals they bring home, they give it to their parents. I have seen how they struggle during training. They skip snacks and keep them so they have something for their families when they get home. These young men are heroes for they sacrifice a lot.”
Myla reiterated that there were moments when quitting was an easy option, not just for her but especially for the boys. She recalled the times when despite their body pains due to the rigid training and diving into an ice-cold pool, the boys were not excused from practicing.
While many despise a three-minute morning bath during the cold month of December, the swimmers dive into the pool for more than eight hours and do it out of strong willpower.
However, there were times when their spirit is silenced by their personal troubles. “Kapag ganoon, I give them a heart-to-heart talk. I present them the pros and cons of quitting; the consequences of giving up the once-in-a-lifetime experience. Eventually, they come to their senses,” she added.
“When I finally get them back on track, I always tell them that the glory they’ll gain in winning is not for me but for them. I’m not the kind of coach who tells them that without me, they are nothing. In fact, I am not here if not because of them. I am always grateful to them. I may have a contribution, but their bodies and efforts are not mine. I cannot own their pains and gains. I want to uplift their spirit and remind them that they are the driver of their destiny. I overtly challenge them to win, because I want their pains and sacrifices to have meaning.”
Myla described herself as a coach who gives her 101%. She made it clear that she doesn’t believe in “what ifs” so if she’s going to do something, she gives her best shot.
With medals I went home.
But the greatest gift of all was right there at home.
“I didn’t even remember the journey home, but I do exactly remember when I got there. By the time I jumped off the tricycle, Rain and Miggy immediately rushed to hug me. They hugged me so tight that it made me speechless. But what really choked me for words was when they asked in a teary tone, “Dito ka na? Di ka na aalis?”
“I searched for words, but I believe that right at that moment, they needed me just to become a mom. So I said, ‘Oo, dito na ‘ko. Di na ako aalis.’”
She likened her whole journey to a roller coaster ride. In every stage she was in, there were a lot times she’s afraid but hopeful. As a coach, every time a swimmer plunges in for a dive for a minute or two, it seemed like the longest hours of her life. That is how badly she wanted them to win.
Every time she is away from her kids Rain and Miggy, felt like never-ending nights of wanting to hold them again and never let them go. But these moments are the moments she treasures the most – they are life’s great teachings.
Next to her young swimmers, all in green uniforms and gold medals, Abad has the most significant medal of them all – the arms of Rain and Miggy wrapped around her neck in a hug.