Meet the lady baller who made a varsity team after losing one arm

Mar 15, 2019
PHOTO: Mei-Lin Lozada

WHEN you think life is hard, Kathryn Tan’s story is something you need to hear.

The former varsity player was among the female athletes invited to the launch of the Nike Hyper Court for Her on March 10 at Bonifacio Global City.

Before the 3x3 matches began, she was shooting some hoops, making one after the other. What made her stand out was not only her skills, but her positivity and hope that radiated throughout the spacious court.

That positivity also helped her overcome tremendous adversity.

Here's her story.

She initially failed to make the cut of her grade-school varsity team at De la Salle Zobel, her lack of size blamed as the coach looked the other way.

Still licking the emotional wounds from the setback, Kathryn suffered a far worse physical pain: she got into an accident that cost her left arm. To this day, she'd rather not discuss details of that day.

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But she stayed positive and never lost sight of her goal of making the varsity team on her second try.

“I was able to recover from the accident. Two months after, I started practicing by myself and so pagpasok ng [next] school year nag-try out ulit ako and doon ako nakapasok noong nangyari na ‘yung accident,” Kathryn recalled.

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The accident, it turned out, was a blessing in disguise.

“It was a blessing in disguise, that’s what I always say. The accident wasn’t really a tragic thing for me, [pero] ‘yun ‘yung naging life-changing for me, to be who I really am, to bring out the confidence in me,” she said.

“Kasi before I was too shy and [worried] if I can do it, ‘yun talaga eh, ‘yung mindset mo na something bad that could happen to you. You just have to be positive that it happens for a reason,” she added.

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Then a 10-year-old grade five pupil, Tan found hope to move forward through basketball, which became her sanctuary as it taught her how to get back up again despite what happened.

“Basketball gave me an opportunity to show myself, my confidence and to show what I got,” she said. “It actually helped me, it became my therapy.”

“Because after the accident I was not sure how the outside world would perceive me as different and through basketball I can show that I am different but I can also excel in what I do,” she added.

Her strength and courage now serves as an inspiration, especially to young girls.

“It’s not only for me, for the women, or for the physically challenged but for every individual,” she said. “Here [in basketball] you can show and bring out the best version of yourselves.”

“To be an inspiration to others, at first it wasn’t really a goal, I really just want to play the game that I love. But in the process of playing the game, there are people telling me that I inspire them.

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"It feels so good to be able to enjoy my love for the game and inspire young people especially the women,” she added.

Tan said she wouldn't have been able to overcome her fears if not for the people who supported her.

Now a junior graphic designer at DLSZ and a basketball coach, Tan could only smile as she looked back at her experiences in life.

“Being here, playing basketball, it’s not only about myself but for those people around me who believed in me, that I can do it despite of what happened to me,” she said.

“It really helped me to inspire myself. It’s really important that people around you believed in you, but it’s also important that you first believe in yourself because if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else would,” she added.

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PHOTO: Mei-Lin Lozada
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