Tina Salak admitted that there were butterflies in her stomach when she made her coaching debut for Far Eastern University in the Shakey’s Super League Preseason Championship Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.
Salak, the 46-year-old former national team playmaker, made a strong first impression when she guided the Lady Tamaraws to a 25-20, 24-26, 19-25, 25-22, 15-11 victory over powerhouse College of Saint Benilde in Pool D of the eliminations.
But getting used to calling the shots for her alma mater will take some time.
“To be honest, I felt nervous,” said Salak, who spearheaded the Lady Tamaraws to a pair of titles in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines.
“I even mentioned to my partner that I was having butterflies in my stomach.”
Salak, a former UAAP Most Valuable Player, had some anxious moments at the bench when the Lady Blazers threatened to pull off a coup in the fifth set, slicing a 6-10 deficit into within one, 11-12.
But the Lady Tamaraws, behind the strong plays of Mitzi Panangin, Chenie Tagaod and Barbie Jamili, kept their composure to seal their first victory in this tournament that serves as a warmup for major collegiate tourneys.
“For the longest time, I’m the one playing for FEU,” said Salak, who was part of the last team that won a medal — a bronze — in the Southeast Asian Games in 2005.
“It’s a lot different when you’re actually handling the team.”
Salak said her players definitely made her look good in her coaching debut for FEU.
“I expect the team to be jittery. I hope they will change their mentality,” she said.
“I give it to the girls. They’re the ones who worked hard for this aside from the guidance of the coaches. I commend everyone.”
“They worked as a team but what happened tonight was a statement. It will be difficult to maintain but we have to try our best, push harder.”
Still, the battle has just started.
“I just want to show them the type of game-time mentality of a Tina Salak,” she said. “Hopefully, it will rub into them and eventually they’ll adopt the same mentality.”