Beyond the Medals: How Athlete-Mom Erica Samonte Inspires Her Children and Others

Erica Samonte is a force to be reckoned with. She’s a wiz at marketing technology but when she’s not strategizing for Evident, you can find her on the basketball court, delivering a powerful roundhouse kick in karate, or cheering on her kids at their sporting events. Erica’s story is one of dedication, passion, and unwavering commitment to being a well-rounded mom.

Her journey with sports began in grade school. Erica got into basketball to get exempted from joining the Girl Scouts. On the other hand, karate started as a summer activity before being a lifelong passion alongside basketball. 

Erica Samonte training at the Karate-Dojo Kelkheim, Germany

“I ended up falling in love with these sports,” Erica shared. “I looked forward to basketball training after school, and karate training on weekends.”

Excelling in both, Erica balanced academics with rigorous training, a testament to her time management skills that would prove invaluable in the years to come.

Her blossoming professional career coincided with taking a spot on the Karate National Team to represent the Philippines in the Southeast Asian Games. The demands were fierce with a 9-to-6 job in between grueling training sessions.

Still, Erica thrived, fueled by her passion for the sport. That year, she brought home not just the satisfaction of dedication, but also two bronze medals from the SEA Games.

Breaking stereotypes with every stride

Motherhood brought a new chapter in her life, but Erica’s commitment to sports remained unchanged. “Those two sports are a big part of me. Basketball dictated my days back in high school and college. Karate dictated my life from college until my first job.”

While her school days and professional career demanded her to balance her time with sports, transitioning into motherhood presented a different challenge. Particularly, in the face of societal stereotypes.

“People don’t expect moms to be athletic or good at sports,” Erica noted, saying how these comments revealed people’s perception of mothers. “I would always get surprised comments that they can’t believe I’m a mom of two kids [because] I run fast, or I kick high, or I punch hard.”

It was not the first time Erica faced gendered prejudice. During the Equal Play Media Mixer, a panel discussion organized by Evident to celebrate International Women’s Day 2024, she shared a particular experience from the SEA Games in 2011 that highlighted how society still struggles to appreciate women in sports.

In attendance during Equal Play Media Mixer, standing from left to right: Samantha Lee, Film Director; Erica Samonte, national athlete, now digital marketer at Evident; Luisa Morales, Journalist; Tin Ferrera, VP and SecGen, Philippine Trail Running Association, Proponent of Girls Running in Trails; Cecile Dominguez-Yujuico, Founder and CEO of Evident; Ceej Tantengco, Podcaster, Go Hard Girls; and Mariana Lopa, Managing Director, Girls Got Game Philippines, Inc..

“When I was covered in the media, it wasn’t amazing because I won a bronze. It was amazing…because I’m a woman,” Erica said, noting that the broader societal view has yet to accept women’s sports as events that deserve attention and investment.

Despite the offhand comments and bias against women in sports, Erica remained dedicated to the sports she loves—with the lessons she learned transcending into her parenting approach.

Being an athlete-mom

As a mother, Erica’s approach to parenting is deeply influenced by her experience in sports. She instills the value of hard work and perseverance in her children, always encouraging them to work hard and put lots of effort into the things they do.

“[What] I always tell them is to always do their best regardless of what they’re doing. Whether they’re learning a new technique, or just doing pushups, or even at home doing chores. Give it your best,” she said.

Erica also recognizes the importance of building character, allowing her to take a step back and let her kids experience the thrill of victory and the sting of defeat on their terms.

Her success as an athlete and a mother lies in meticulous planning and prioritizing quality time.

“Ever since I was an athlete, I valued time management…I also put a lot of importance on efficiency. If I can get swifter or stronger in, for example, 5 days instead of 10, then I’m able to make time for other things like my kids,” she shared.

Erica also acknowledged the importance of being in the moment. “When I’m with my kids, I’m fully present. It’s the same thing when I’m doing my sports, or even when I’m at work. Introducing my sports to my kids has also allowed them to understand why I like doing these sports.”

She added that her athletic pursuits encouraged her children to be involved in sports. Her kids — Hans and Jade — are currently doing jiu-jitsu, karate, and golf. Like their mom, Hans and Jade are also becoming well-decorated athletes, with Hans winning two golds and a silver from jiu-jitsu competitions and Jade winning a silver medal in her first tournament last April 21, 2024.

While medals are the cherry on top, it’s the life lessons that truly resonate with Erica. The shared training sessions with her kids or their unwavering spirit in the face of defeat—these are the moments she cherishes most. 

Erica understands that her kids are not an extension of her or her journey, so she continues to expose them to other sports and hobbies. She said this will help them discover what they enjoy most and excel in their way.

Looking ahead, Erica’s greatest aspiration is for her children to find their passions, just as basketball and karate did for her. She’ll be there for their biggest wins and toughest losses, a constant source of encouragement and a wealth of experience to draw from. Erica Samonte is a true champion, an inspiration not just on the court and the mat, but also on the most important playing field of all—motherhood.

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