Tomorrow, a Sunday, August 12, 2007, Jacob Lagman (the country’s No.1 tennis player in the Boys 12-and-under category) will fly to Seoul, South Korea. He’ll join two major events spanning two weeks. His father, mentor and coach… Jess Lagman… will travel with him. Here’s an article I wrote for Sun.Star Cebu in March 4 of last year…
Jess and Julie and Julian and Julius and Jessica and Jacob are all, as you can see, one and the same. They’re all J’s. But one thing more binds them together. Their second name.
Lagman. Open these back pages often, visit an age-group tennis event at the Cebu Country Club, surf the internet, go to Google and type “Cebu junior tennis,” and you’ll hear a familiar tune.
Lagman. They’re all J’s. They’re the 6J’s. They’re one family, one team, just like yours and mine. But here’s the twist. When you visit their home, you’ll notice that it’s packed with one more item that ours don’t possess.
Trophies. How many trophies? I called Jess and Julie, the parents of the other 4J’s, to ask. They couldn’t give a reply. So I had to await the answer that evening. How many trophies? “About a hundred,” answered Julie. One hundred? Trophies?
Julian, 17, is the eldest of the four children. He’s a freshman at the Ateneo de Manila University and next year will be part of the tennis varsity team. Next is Julius, who’s in 2nd year high school at the Sacred Heart-Jesuit and is top-notch in academics. In tennis, he’s a top ace. Julius, 15, owns 12 trophies. Jessica, the only daughter, is in Grade 6 at St. Benedict’s. The youngest is Jacob, now Grade 4 at St. Benedict. How many does Jacob own? 81 trophies, certificates, medals! Not bad? Wait till you hear this: he’s only 10 years old.
The Lagmans are one of Cebu’s top role model families. Like any success story, they’ve achieved it through hard work, years of practice, with sweat dripping and flooding the court until it turns into a swimming pool. But there’s one ingredient beyond just sweat.
It’s called family. I’ve known Jess and Julie for over 15 years now (as part of the catholic charismatic group, Bukas Loob sa Diyos or BLD) and I’ve seen them live two things: love of God and love of family.
“Tennis,” said Jess, “has brought our family even closer.” On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, they practice tennis together or do off-court training at The Fight Club. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, fitness exercises are at home. Weekends are all business at the tennis court.
Two years ago, Julius joined the International Children’s Games (ICG) in Cleveland, Ohio and last year, went to Coventry, England and battled six-foot-tall netters from Germany, Italy and Slovenia. In both trips (when he defeated the American number two seed, snatched the silver and was approached by the sports director of St. Francis Marion University in South Carolina to offer him a tennis scholarship), guess who came along? His dad, Jess.
Last November, it was the turn of Jacob (the country’s No.1 in the 10-and-under group) for a three-tournament, three-week stay in Malaysia. He defeated players from Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia and won a “grand slam,” capturing all three singles gold medals plus a doubles gold. Guess who came along? His mom, Julie.
In the middle of that trip, Jacob felt bad. It was his dad’s birthday and they were away. So he sent this text message: “Dear Papa, I’m so sad it’s the first birthday that mom and I are not with you. But I’m so happy God answered my prayers when I won the gold. This is my gift to you, my Papa and Coach.”
So, to all Dads and Moms, here’s my suggestion … Get to meet Jess and Julie Lagman. Listen to their story. Watch the kids dazzle you with the boom of their forehands. Be inspired.
For the family that prays and plays together, wins together.