Senior Series: Stefanie Berberabe

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Noah Nims

Stefanie Berberabe, a senior on the Women’s Basketball team.

Serena Nohmeh, Staff Writer

When it comes to basketball, fourth-year Stefanie Berberabe is no stranger. From the ripe age of eight years old, Berberabe was on the court scoring threes. Some play for fun, but it was deeper for her. She mentioned, “I enjoyed the team aspect and how fast-paced the sport was.”

Not only is she a fantastic basketball player, but she has also dipped her toes into other sports. In high school, she played volleyball, basketball and ran track. As much as she enjoyed volleyball and track, she knew she was most passionate about basketball.

When asked how she felt about being a senior, Berberabe said, “I have mixed emotions about being a senior … excited but also sad that it’s all coming to an end. My motto for this year is to put in the work and enjoy the ride, and the results will work themselves out.”

For someone like Berberabe, it is no surprise she has many accomplishments. In her basketball career, her biggest achievement was when “our team won the National Championship in 2021.” That same year, Berberabe was awarded national player of the year.

Coming from a supportive background, her biggest motivators are her parents. She said, “They have sacrificed so much for my sister and I to have the opportunities that we get, and they’ve taught me the importance of hard work and perseverance.” Nobody else could be a better cheerleader than proud parents! Berberabe reflected and appreciated how “they hardly ever miss any of my games ever since I was a child and up until now, they make it a priority to show up and cheer me on.” 

“I would not be the person I am today without their love and support. My sister also inspires me to do everything I do, whether it be in the classroom or on the court, to the best of my ability and never give up.”

Not only is she a powerhouse on Westmont’s women’s team, she also had the opportunity to play for the Philippines national team this past year. She mentioned that a large factor in playing was to “give thanks and honor my parents and thank them for all they have done for me.” This meant a lot for Berberabe, whose parents both were born and raised in the Philippines.

Berberabe and the team played in the South East Asian Games which is a huge tournament where most countries in South East Asia compete against each other in various sports. They played against Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand.

As for her experience with playing for the Philippines national team, she mentioned, “This was a brand new experience for me that was definitely out of my comfort zone. The new environment, language barrier, the pressure I felt with high expectations, the adjustment to a new team, and very hot weather, etc.” She continued, “These were some things that were challenging for me, especially being away from home where my usual support system was across the world. The resilience and grit that I had is something that I learned from being a part of the Westmont women’s basketball program.”

She began forming a connection with the team regardless of the language barriers. The women even gave her the nickname “kidlat” which means “lightning” in Tagalog because they’d never met anyone as speedy as her. To make things more exciting, their team won the gold medal!

Berberabe during a recent game against Xavier University of Louisiana.

When asked about plans for after graduation, she responded, “My plans are not set in stone yet, but I’m interested in playing overseas for a bit. If my body feels healthy and strong enough to continue my career in basketball after college, I would still want to play and travel the world at the same time! A fun fact is that I’m planning to walk onto Westmont’s track team after basketball season, just for fun! After basketball is over, I’d like to pursue either athletic training or speech and language pathology.”

When asked about plans for after graduation, she responded, “My plans are not set in stone yet, but I’m interested in playing overseas for a bit. If my body feels healthy and strong enough to continue my career in basketball after college, I would still want to play and travel the world at the same time! A fun fact is that I’m planning to walk onto Westmont’s track team after basketball season, just for fun! After basketball is over, I’d like to pursue either athletic training or speech and language pathology.”

As a leader, friend and player on the team, Berberabe has been passionate about getting women’s athletics recognition. She quoted, “Women’s basketball doesn’t get much exposure compared to men’s basketball and I think that needs to change. We both put in the same amount of work and effort to be successful on the court. Women in sports deserve to be hyped up and recognized for the grind.”

She further expanded her thoughts, “I just want to somehow make a change, especially for the next generation so the younger girls out there who want to pursue sports aren’t let down or discouraged by the lack of support. I want to use my platform and voice to lift up and inspire younger girls to grow in confidence knowing that they are capable.”

She ended the interview with a call to younger girls who are pursuing their dreams: “I hope you keep pursuing your passion for sports because we are most powerful when we are embracing our truest selves. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do. A lot of us hold ourselves back because of self-doubt but if you take that risk and put yourself out of your comfort zone, that can open up so many opportunities to thrive. Believe in yourself and believe in others!” 

We will miss Berberabe’s presence on campus but are excited to see what she accomplishes next! If you would like to watch Berberabe and the rest of the Westmont women’s basketball team compete, come to their next home match on Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. against Southern Oregon University.

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