BEHIND a successful man is a woman and behind a successful coach is his deputy.
In the case of University of Santo Tomas head coach Aldin Ayo, he’s got Minajoy Canlas as wife and assistant coach all rolled into one.
The couple have been together for 18 years now and it helps that Minajoy is a former basketball player helself, helping her multitask during the UST Tigers' campaign in the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball tournament.
“‘Yung time na dine-demand sa practice and ‘yung time na nakahiwalay kami sa kids naintindihan ko ‘yun kasi love niya talaga ‘yung basketball so sinusuportahan ko siya doon,” said the mother of two beautiful children, Miguel, 10, and Chelsea, 8.
“‘Yung kay coach naman kasi naiintindihan ko ang work niya kasi dati nagba-basketball din ako, naglaro din ako sa UST pay high [school] basketball team from 1994 to 1998,” she added.
Minajoy, who played power forward back in the day, pointed out that her background and love for the sport plays a vital role both in their relationship and Aldin’s career.
Being a baller herself makes it easier for Minajoy understand the demands of Ayo's job.
“‘Yun ‘yung advantage ko kaya naiintindihan ko ‘yung demand ng trabaho lalo na sa oras,” she said.
She even conceptualized a grassroots basketball program for him when they settled down in Sorsogon.
“Since parehas naman kaming may alam sa basketball, nag-put up kami ng basketball clinic sa grassroots,” she shared. “Tinulungan ko siya, ako ‘yung nag-design ng program. As the head coach siya ang nag-implement. Hand in hand kami.”
They've become a team both in life and in basketball, that there are times when Aldin would ask her opinion about strategy.
“Nag-uusap kami, minsan nga kahit sa mga play,” she revealed. “Sa timeout, oorasan ko siya, titignan ko kung papasok siya doon sa oras.”
“May times naman sa board, sasabihin niya sa akin, ‘Mommy, okay ba ‘to?’ Then ako naman, ‘Oo, okay ‘yan.’ May mga ganoon kaming conversations na basketball talaga,” she added.
While she’s an official part of the team as assistant coach, the 38-year old mom's biggest contribution is in taking care of their adopted sons in the team.
From daily practices to the players’ health down to the players' personal concerns, Mina Joy is a hands-on second mom to them.
“Parang ako na rin ang tumatayong second mom nila kasi since karamihan nga ng players namin is taga-province,” she said. “Itong mga bata mababait, kaya sinasabi ko sa kanila na if ever may problem kayo, ‘wag kayong mahihiya na i-approach ako.”
“We even have group chat na kami lang, ‘yung Team A lang and ako, wala si coach. Sorry coach, ngayon alam mo na. Kasi hindi rin mago-open up ‘yung mga bata [sa ibang topics], kaya iba ‘yung sa kanila ni coach, iba ‘yung relationship namin,” she added.
“Even kapag may sakit, tatanungin ko kung anong gamot ang kailangan then I’ll talk to the PT (physical therapist), meron pa magsasabi na, ‘Tita, gusto po pumunta dito sa Manila ng Mama ko’ kaya ina-assist ko sila,” she continued.
After a long basketball season, it’s time to reward themselves with some quality family time.
Minajoy is thankful that their children understand what they do and she’s also grateful to her mother-in-law for taking care of them.
“‘Yung kids namin alam nila, naka-base sila sa Sorsogon and sinasabi nila na, ‘It’s ok, Mommy, nandito naman si Lola. Ok lang kami dito, you take care of Daddy.’ So kahit ‘yung mga kids namin suppotive,” she said.
“And even ‘yung Mommy ni coach, sabi niya, ‘Joy, just stay there in Manila, you take care of coach, okay lang kami dito sa Sorsogon.' Kasi ‘yun talaga ang passion ni coach, mahal na mahal niya ang basketball,’” she added.