Roman ’16 qualifies for Philippine women’s national team

by Jehanna Axelrod | 9/17/14 2:54pm

When Sofia Roman ’16 started playing basketball in the third grade, she just wanted to be good enough to compete with her older sister. Now Roman, who was born in the Philippines, is good enough to play for her country. Just this past June, Roman traveled to Manila to try out for Discovery Perlas Philippine Women’s Basketball team, where, after 10 days of training, she was told she made the national squad.

The team’s coach, Haydee Ong, and Roman have been in contact since high school, which Roman attended in her adopted hometown of White Plains, New York.

“A dream of mine since I was little was to play for my country,” Roman said. “I thought maybe I could establish something so that when the opportunity was right, they’ll keep me in mind for the next tryouts.”

During high school, Roman focused on securing a collegiate career, but her desire to play for the Philippines never faded. She worked hard to stay at the top of her game and to overcome the disadvantages she faced because of her 5-foot 7-inch frame.

Because of her small size — the Dartmouth team’s average height is over 5-foot 11-inches — she must use her speed and work ethic as her strengths, teammate Kaitana Martinez ’16 said.

Attending an institution that prized academic excellence was another important goal for Roman, who had not only excelled in high school sports, but also in her classes.

“During freshman year of high school I started looking at Ivy League schools, sending out tapes, sending out emails, getting in contact with the coaches, and it worked,” Roman said.

Dartmouth was another great choice for Roman for a less foreseeable reason: the D-Plan. Roman had planed to travel to Manila in summer 2015 for an internship, but Ong asked her to fly over a bit earlier, which her interim schedule luckily allowed.

It was her first time back in 15 years.

“It was a really nice experience, a very humbling one, to go back and see where I come from,” Roman said.

She wasted no time when she landed in the Philippines for her 10-day trip; immediately after her arrival, she drove to a gym to shoot some hoops and continue to work on her form.

“Sofia’s always working really hard in practice and putting in extra time outside of practice to work on her shot, work on her dribbling moves, become a better ball-handler,” teammate Abbey Schmitt ’15 said.

After taking a couple days to warm up on her own, Roman participated in a men’s league game, where she impressed spectators with her 20+ point performance. The following afternoon Roman scrimmaged with men, and the day after that, she practiced with other prospective Perlas players.

After another practice later in the week, that time with current Perlas team members, Ong told Roman that she had earned a place on the roster.

“[Roman] has been working hard every single day to become a better basketball player and a better person,” Martinez said. “I know how much she cares for her country, and seeing her have the opportunity to represent something that is so important to her, it brings me pride.”

Last season, Roman served as a defensive and three-point specialist for the Big Green. She had a 3-point percentage of 33.3 percent with all but one of her field goal attempts coming from beyond the arc.

Roman will continue to play for Dartmouth and will head back to Manila in March 2015 to begin training for the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore next June.