Samantha Catantan is adjusting well to her tight schedule with the online classes and training session as a member of the fencing team of Penn State University in the US.
According to Catantan, she was able to handle her schedule during the first week of online classes and practice with the team.
“A training ko is six times a week, pahinga is Tuesday, so I have practice Saturday and Sunday. It’s either 6 in the morning or 7:30 a.m. for the foil team, kami talaga yung maaga,” said Catantan in an interview with Manila Bulletin last Saturday (Friday night in the US).
Catantan said that on her training schedule of six times a week, thrice she goes on 1-on-1 training with one of the coaches of Penn State U, and twice there is a strength and conditioning schedule.
She said that the school has three training facilities for the fencing team, two of which they use depending on schedule by each weapon team – foil, epee of sabre – since the school practices health protocols.
Catantan is the first homegrown Filipino to have an athletic scholarship from a Division 1 school in the US NCAA Division. She is a freshman at Penn State U after a stellar high school campaign with University of the East.
Aside from her practice schedule, the 18-year-old fencer – also the first Filipino to win a gold medal in the U-23 Asian Championship back in 2019 in Thailand – has to attend her online classes.
After training, Catantan attends her online classes at 10 in the morning.
“Pero ako since after classes may (1-on-1) lesson ako ng 12 noon, kailangan ko talaga siya singit in between classes. After ng 9:30 a.m. training, takbo ako room kasi may klase ako ng 10, after that balik ako ng 12 for the lesson,” she said.
In her free time, Catantan spends walking at the campus to explore it.
“Nag-iikot ako sa campus kasi ang laki. Para din alam ko mga lugar, kasi baka pag nag in-person classes na maligaw ako,” said Catantan, adding that her teammates and coaches gave her a warm welcome.
“Siguro kaya hindi ako mahirapan sa adjustment laso emotionally kasi sobrang ganda pag-welcome nila sa akin. May mga international student/athletes din na nakaka-relate ako sa kanila noong freshmen nila.”
Catantan said that there are tournaments set next month, and she hopes to represent and compete for Penn State U. These tournaments would allow fencers to earn points to be able to join the regional meets.
If she has enough points to make the regionals, Catantan said the next step is to perform well to be able to advance possibly in the tournament proper, which is the US NCAA in May.
“Hindi ganun din kadali, talagang kailangan you have to earn it, earn points para makalaro sa (US NCAA) tournament. Hopefully makalaro ako (next month) and in the regionals,” Catantan said.