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DEFENDING GOLD WITH MEN’S VOLLEYBALL

With all eyes set on that gold medal, the Guam’s Men’s National Volleyball team is heading in to the 8th Micronesian Game as three-time defending gold-medalists, winning in 2002, 2006, and 2010.

By Nate San Nicolas

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With all eyes set on that gold medal, the Guam’s Men’s National Volleyball team is heading in to the 8th Micronesian Game as three-time defending gold-medalists, winning in 2002, 2006, and 2010. One can expect eyes to definitely be locked on this loaded team, with experienced Micro Game players like Borden running the offense at setter to young, fresh talent like Allander Ebeo providing versatility at the net.

However, that group of great talent has been facing numerous challenges since their tryouts in November of 2013. The biggest struggle of all was actually conducting a quality practice with enough players showing up.

Outside the lives of volleyball, there are other commitments these men have, such as work and family. But what keeps them improving as individuals and as a team is the competitiveness within.

IMG_4653“That gold medal around your neck, there’s nothing like that. When you put in all that hard work and sacrifice, you see all the fruits of your labor exemplified with that medal.” – Robert Borden

 

 

 

“Getting everyone out is hard. It’s tough to practice with only eight to nine guys. We hardly ever get a good set of twelve to get a good scrimmage or play in practice. But what’s good and what keeps us going is each other, we just drive and push each other. Everyone feeds off each other, and we compete within to make each other better.” – PJ Quintanilla

That grit to do better and to compete is a key aspect of why the Guam Men’s Volleyball Team is defending three straight gold medals. Despite the struggles of a lack of numbers to unfortunate conflicts with scheduling, these men have the tenacity to get better every chance they get. The support behind them is evident, and the goals and mindset give this vibe of determination and focus. Defending that gold medal can be the single driving point for these men, not only defending it for Guam but also for the past volleyball players who brought that gold medal home for the island.

Men’s Team (Head coach is Michael Rabago)

  1. Teleforo (TJ) Balajadia
  2. Robert Borden
  3. Anthony Crisostomo
  4. Allander Ebeo
  5. Kylon (Kyle) Eckert
  6. Christian Mailloux
  7. Kevin Perez
  8. Ryan Querimit
  9. Peter Quintanilla
  10. Tristin Tapia
  11. Derrick Wahl

IMG_4658“When we are out here, we’re not representing only ourselves and Guam, but also the past volleyball players. They come out here, we play for them because we know that they are looking down at us to do Guam Volleyball good and represent with pride,” explained Quintanilla.

With head coach Mike Rabago and assistant coach Dan Hattig, these men under great guidance. However, they are privileged to have volleyball veterans such as Chris Sheppard come in during practice to share his knowledge of the game with the team.

Playing at such a high level, competition can be unpredictable, and with the Micro Games being every four years, any team can rise up unexpectedly to beat out these defending gold medalists. However, team captain Borden will not let underestimating an opponent be the reason for a loss.

“We have an idea what to expect. But we can’t go out there over confident, pretending to know what to expect, because that’s how we lose. We have to go out there, play our own game, and just show up for each other and for our island,” replied Borden.

These men represent the island with pride, sporting all sorts of gear, even down to the highly coveted Crowns Guam Pride Socks. They represent not only past volleyball players, but also inspire young volleyball players who hope to be able to compete at such a high caliber in the future.

TJ Balajadia leads the drill of picking up serves in the early stages of practice. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

TJ Balajadia leads the drill of picking up serves in the early stages of practice. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

“It starts with a first step. It always seems hard at first, but then after that, it’s rewarding in the end, because we do look for new talent every year, and that first step is just simply trying out,” finished Borden.

That’s the valued advice the experience Guam volleyball player has for the youth. With a combination of island pride, defending gold, and representing the Guam volleyball community as a whole, teams should be watching out for some great competition from Guam when they land in Pohnpei.

 

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