By Nate San Nicolas
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Six months of commitment. That’s the amount of time the Guam Women’s National Volleyball Team had to prepare for the 2014 Micronesia Games in Pohnpei. The physical aspect is taxing; with two-a-day workout sessions and countless hours on the court, the challenge was not only physically demanding, but mentally exhausting as well.
“The biggest struggle was probably just finding facilities and a place to practice, and that’s been a problem for most of the Guam National Teams. We would have to look for gyms ourselves and the coaches really had to work hard to get us court time,” explained Team Captain Emma Gatewood.
Any sports team can be in the weight room everyday getting stronger and fitter; however, that time on the court is crucial to not only develop skills as an individual, but also mold those individual skills together to create a team. Such an inconsistency of practice time can add to that mental frustration of this National Team. The constant juggling of schedules and adjusting to last minute calls is a sacrifice these ladies make on top of the physical demands, and through six months, the stress can add up.
“The biggest thing is supporting each other and showing that support. We have a group chat going on and we always have something to say, whether it would be asking the youngest if she needs a ride to practice or if anyone needs a wakeup call for the early morning practice. Then that encouragement carries on to the court,” said team veteran Gemma Datuin.
WHO WANTS TO SET?
Team Captain Gatewood strives to emphasize the value of being ONE team. At such a high caliber of play, teamwork can be the decisive factor that gives an edge over the competition and this is what she has to say:
“This is not an individual sport. We cannot succeed with one player, and we cannot fail with one player. Whether you are a rookie or a veteran, that is something important to realize and you can’t be a solo player and expect to succeed.”
These words by Gatewood come to life through the training experience that Datuin has gone through the past six months as she took on the role as the team’s setter.
Women’s Team (Head coach is Daniel Hattig)
- Jeneal Besabe
- Leah Castro
- Edelene Cruz
- Gemma Datuin
- Colleen Flores
- Emma Gillan
- Mary Gillan
- Kara Guerrero
- Shanniqua Mendiola
- Jessica Nunez
- Joneen Terlaje
- Maria Wahl
Moving out of your comfort zone as a player in any sport can be frustrating, but Datuin’s commitment and determination to step out of her comfortable role and take up a new position exemplifies her loyalty to the team. It should not surprise anyone that her teammates have that same mindset of “team before self.”
It can be intimidating to compete at a level these ladies are at, as challenges can come from any angle at any time. However, what keeps these ladies going is that gold medal they all had their eyes set on since the beginning. Defending that gold medal from the 2006 and 2010 Micronesian Game is a great motivation in itself, but what sparks their relentless pursuit to dominating in Pohnpei is the opportunity to represent Guam. Most would call it a dream, but these ladies see it as a privilege.
“I remember when SPG was played on Guam and as a little kid I watched a volleyball game, watching Guam compete and I was truly inspired. It seemed impossible back then, but now actually being here, I just feel really proud. I really hope other younger players can be encouraged the same way I was,” replied Gatewood when asked about how she felt when representing Guam.
Being able to wear that uniform is a great inspiration for all, including those ladies preparing to leave in a few weeks. With commitment, determination, teamwork, and sacrifice, this team had prepared themselves to be a force to reckon with in Pohnpei, and you can be sure that no matter what the odds, at the end, they will continue to, “Defend that gold.”
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