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Meet the only female conditioning coach in men’s basketball 3x3

By MYLENE MENDOZA-DAYRIT, The Philippine STAR Published Apr 19, 2022 5:00 am

If how adeptly she unknotted my muscle with a dry needle is any indication of how much she is in control in the court, I can definitely say that Katherine Anne Romero-Tenorio (or coach Kath) has, indeed, come a long way.

We have always admired strong women who defy society-dictated roles. I have always seen her around, taking care of volleyball belles, so when I heard that she was back in basketball and had been noticed as the only female in that role, I immediately took the chance to interview her.

I wanted to prove that I could last long. That I could be part of this field and be respected as a female conditioning coach in an industry dominated by men.

Previous to her involvement in sports, coach Kath spent four years in the commercial gyms here and in Singapore. For a year and a half, she was the conditioning coach at STI Global City College. She then became the conditioning coach of the Cebuana Lhuillier Gems at the PBA D-League for almost two and a half years. In 2014, she was the rehab trainer of the UNTV Malacañang Basketball Team, which came after her stint with the UE Men’s Basketball Team for UAAP Season 76-77.

Diminutive coach Kath Tenorio with a volleyball team right after a team workout. She may be physically small but her strength and skill in athletic conditioning and injury prevention/management tower above many men and women in the field.

Coach Kath shifted to volleyball in 2015 where she spent the first year as conditioning coach of the Foton Tornadoes Volleyball team. She was the rehab trainer of the Petron Lady Spikers from the third quarter of 2016 to the end of 2017. She also served the National Team, which won bronze at Sisaket Thailand.

In 2018, she was with the Generika Women’s Volleyball team while from the start of 2019 until the end of 2021 she was the conditioning coach and rehab trainer of the Sta. Lucia Women’s Volleyball team.

In 2019, Coach Kath took on a role in basketball simultaneously with her volleyball involvement. She became the conditioning coach of the Taguig Generals Men’s Basketball team until mid-2020. From the start of 2022 she became the trainer/rehab trainer of the Master Sardines 3x3 Men’s Basketball and the Zamboanga Atami Family Sardines Men’s Basketball teams.

The only rose among the thorns: Coach Kath (middle row, second from left) with the Zamboanga Atami Family Sardines basketball team.

THE PHILIPPINE STAR: Was gender ever a deterrent for you to becoming the best conditioning coach you can be in a male-dominated field?

KATH TENORIO: Being a woman has never been an issue since I started my career in men’s basketball. It was 2011 when I entered the collegiate level. Personally, I was challenged. So I started to study the game — the offense, the defense, the referees’ calls, the game rules and, of course, the basketball sports mechanism. I wanted to learn everything at that time because I wanted to prove that I could last long. That I could be part of this field and be respected as a female conditioning coach in an industry dominated by men. Fortunately, all the hard work paid off. I got recognized and eventually entered the pro ranks. Ten years later, I'm still a coach in this field.

How does training athletes in volleyball and basketball help you train non-athletic people?

Training athletes is a completely different thing but by training them, we will surely be imposing (on them) the importance of discipline. As we all know, discipline is a must for athletes. If we can instill this to non-athletes then it will surely be a game changer in achieving their fitness goals.

What’s the main difference in training athletes and non-athletes?

The difference of training athletes to non-athletes is the periodization. We base the periodization on the game schedule, how many months or games will it take, and we adjust our timeline on the game schedule itself; while for non-athletes we do their programs based on their personal goals, age, and body frame.

You work wonders with your dry-needling technique. What are the biggest benefits of this therapy?

Somatic Dry Needling is a form of therapy in which we use fine needles. We locate the “trigger points,” or we may say the painful areas/muscles. It helps tighten muscles which cause pain to loosen up, specifically the deep muscles that cannot be reached through manual manipulation or myofascial release.

What do you think were the considerations taken by your 3x3 employer to set aside the fact that you are the only woman trainer in the league?

I guess that my Master’s Sardines 3x3 team and the PBA 3x3 League considered my 11 years of experience in the field. They had not seen me just as a woman, but as an epitome of woman empowerment working in a male-dominated field.

What are your three most important objectives when handling athletic conditioning?

My top three goals for the athletes I handle are to be more functional, to be able to perform better, and to be injury-free.