The first thing a Volleyball team manager should learn is LOVE. Love for the game of Volleyball.
When I first started out managing then Mane N Tail 1.0, I didn’t know anything about volleyball. In fact it was the game that I liked the least. I’m a basketball and football aficionado, I honestly couldn’t care less about volleyball. My disinterest probably contributed to the poor performance of the Lady Stallions in our inaugural season.
As GrandPrix 2014 rolled on, I started developing feelings for my team, for my players, for my coaching staff, and for the game. I felt my heart tug whenever I saw my players cry after losing another close match, I felt angry whenever I saw people laugh at my team. Ultimately, though, I was angry at myself. I had a wonderful group of girls who, despite the difference in abilities, gave their all game-in and game-out, and there I was – a guy who couldn’t be bothered to care. I owe the members of the Mane ‘N Tail 1.0 a big apology.
I should have been there, I should have been the guy who had their backs no matter what, but I wasn’t there for them.
I took a long look at myself after our last game. I knew something needed to change, and there it was: I finally admitted to myself that I love volleyball. I love my girls who played their hearts out.
To make amends, I poured myself into what is now known as the Philips Gold Lady Slammers. I devoted time, energy, effort, and most importantly my heart to my new daughters. I nurtured that budding team, showered it with love and affection, made my daughters’ problems my own. That the Philips Gold Lady Slammers bagged the third place finish in the All-Filipino is not a testament of my efforts, but more of a discovery that love can truly work miracles.
The continued existence of the Philips Gold Lady Slammers is a miracle. My bosses and I could have walked away after that debacle that was Lady Stallions, but we persisted; we kept plugging, we kept working to build our Philips Gold Lady Slammers family. The Philips Gold Lady Slammers are not just a volleyball team; they are a family, a very big family whose members truly devote themselves to each other.
From Michelle, to Mel, to Myla, to Iris, all the way to Sarah, we played not for personal glory or the pursuit of a paycheck, but because we genuinely wanted to win for each other. Because of that motivation, our family developed an identity of “Never Say Die”. There is no Philips Gold Lady Slammers game that we lost because we gave up midway during the game; we went down swinging. We may have lost some matches but it was always after a fierce fight to keep the match alive.
While I am happy that we ended up with two trophies this year from the PSL, I cannot deny the pain our family felt after losing in the semis in Grandprix 2015. The pain is real, because it came from our hearts. The pain lingers because of how much we care for each other. I’ve told my girls to treasure that pain, use it as motivation, so that when we finally win it all, we can finally let go.
This coming 2016, Philips Gold Lady Slammers will undergo a few changes, and our family will have a few new faces. Hopefully we will continue to please our fans through our collective efforts both on and off the playing surface. Hope you guys hang on tight, because 2016 is going to a be a hell of a ride.
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