Of gold, dynasties and diamond: The latest on Ana Santiago and Adamson Softball’s decades of dominance

Date Posted: April 19, 2023 at 04:16 PM

The name Ana Santiago has become almost synonymous with championship in the UAAP Softball scene. 

Santiago, who has coached in the amateur league for almost 20 years, has produced nothing but success with Adamson University, producing title after title in the UAAP, punctuated by an unprecedented 10-peat championship in Season 85. 

The Soaring Falcon program has also yielded countless players who have donned the Philippine colors in different international competitions with the RP Blu Girls. 

With Coach Ana at the helm, the Adamson softball program is seen to continue taking flight for the institution and for the country. 

“Extra Special” 

In an interview with Adamson News, Coach Ana revealed that the 10-peat title was the sweetest throughout her illustrious campaign, by far. 

“This is part of my goal as a coach. Initially, when I made history with the 73-game win streak, sobrang happy ako dun pero nung na-stop yun, sabi ko sa sarili ko, “What’s next for my career?” kasi gusto ko sana ulit gumawa ng isa pang [historical feat],” she explained.  

“Pag sinabi mo kasing one decade – 10 straight years -- iba ang dating.” 

Coach Ana also mentioned that she dedicated the feat to her mother, and her late coach in Adamson, Philippines’ baseball and softball great, Filomeno “Boy” Codiñera. 

The PH Softball Asst. Coach, however, admitted that unlike earlier seasons when she was sure of their victory, UAAP 85 was full of uncertainties. 

“Before the pandemic, sure ako na magchachampion kami because of the team I have that time pero itong taon na ito, sinabi ko kahit kay [Adamson Athletic Director Fr. Aldrin Suan, CM] na “Hindi tayo sigurado this year,” she quipped. 

“Talagang sobrang struggle itong season na ito para sa akin at grabe din yung preparations namin kasi alam kong kailangan and unlike before, ito alam kong mahihirapan kami kaya kailangan kong i-adjust yung mga dapat naming gawin para ma-adopt ng players.” 

The former national team player also revealed that the generational difference among her wards have begun to show, pushing her to make further changes in her coaching approach. 

“Kailangan kong i-adjust yung kung ano ako as a coach sa kung anong players meron ako kasi kailangan mo ring maintindihan yung mga players ngayon para yung takbo ng team and trainings, magkakaintindihan kayo,” she furthered. 

Being “THE” Program 

Despite being one of the winningest and most successful softball programs in the UAAP and in the country, Coach Ana remains grounded in how her team reached such a high level of play this year. 

The multi-titled coach disclosed that she had shifted to a more open regime in dealing with her team. 

“Dati kasi ang umpisa ko sa mga player ko, “O, kailangan magchampion tayo ah,” pero ngayon ang sinasabi ko “step-by-step muna tayo – ang una, to be in the championship game,” she said, flashing a smile as she recalled the past season. 

This was evident when they suffered a shock loss to the UP Fighting Maroons in the first round of the tournament. Coach Ana, however, revealed that a pep talk was all her team needed to get back on their feet and return to their old form on the way to another spot in the championship and historic title win. 

Talking about how the Adamson U became the program that serves as a standard for other teams, she explained that it was her strong rapport with the players that brought them success, as well as the “next-woman-up" mentality that has become a trend for the San Marcelino-based squad. 

“Yun talaga ang kagandahan ng program dito. Yung mentality kasi minsan kahit ako nagugulat na instantly may nagsstep-up agad. Laging timely talaga; laging may nakaready kahit may mawala,” Coach Ana said. 

With Jenette Rusia and Elsie dela Torre now graduating, Coach Ana, once again, expects to have the next woman up for the task of taking over the position their klasmeyt is leaving. 

She also credited the Vincentian roots of the University for their development both as a team and as individuals, as well as their winning culture, owing it to their annual outreach activities, which she said kept them thankful for what they have, and the values embedded within the Adamson community. 

“Kuntento kami and hindi kami nagdedemand sa school despite our championships. Masaya kami sa kung anong nabibigay ng Adamson at sobra namin yung naaappreciate,” she said. 

“We have a lot of sports teams sa Adamson and we know that the school is trying its best na mabigyan lahat ng team ng suporta nang pantay-pantay. Ganon naman sa lahat ng universities.” 

Just last April 2 to 8, numerous members and alumni of the Falcon softbelles added another chip to their collection after finishing in the Top 4 of the 2023 Women’s Softball Asia Cup held in Incheon, South Korea, which qualified them for the XVII World Baseball Softball Confederation Women’s Softball World Cup. 

With the Falcons being home to national team players, and with Falcons being developed into national team players, gold medals and another dynasty may never be far from AdU in the softball diamond – a true legacy of dominance.