Amid struggles, Gorayeb finds solace in volleyball
MANILA, Philippines — Sports and life in general have always been related to each other one way or another, but for the iconic Roger Gorayeb the art of volleyball is more than a career.
Gorayeb did not start out as a volleyball coach, he had an odd job or two growing up, but the sport has provided him a reprieve and ultimately, happiness from the harsh realities of life.
The 39-time NCAA champion battled and won against multiple myeloma, a type of cancer that forms in the plasma cells responsible for making antibodies, in June of 2020 in what he described as a medical miracle.
“Until now I still have questions on how I won because even the doctors never thought that I would live, I think they even made me a case study because my condition was so rare,” said Gorayeb in Filipino with a jest. “My doctors told me that they felt like throwing a feast because they were so happy because I was nearly dead.”
But that moment of bliss was momentary as his wife of 32 years, Lucy, died on January 18 this year and that tragedy nearly pulled him into depression.
“My wife died January 18, and there’s no volleyball to be played, so I was sort of getting pulled into depression. My self-esteem took a huge hit during that time,” said Gorayeb.
To get his mind off things, Gorayeb said he would usually turn his focus on volleyball and his team PLDT Home Fibr.
Gorayeb said virtual training through Zoom is not enough, so such was his happiness when he finally saw his team for the first time this Wednesday.
It was during that meeting that he named Rhea Dimaculangan as captain of the Power Hitters and telling his players on how to conduct themselves as professional athletes.
Volleyball was virtually non-existent the whole of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Gorayeb and his team are set to play once again sometime in the future for the first season of the Premier Volleyball League.
“I’m really excited, I want to hold physical practices so bad,” said Gorayeb. “I’m like a dog that’s put in chains. I want to roam free, if I can bite off the chains I’d do it. I’m like one of those greyhounds that compete in races.”
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