“The beginning is always the hardest. Don’t give up.”
Rem Cailing does not have hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter.
But the aforementioned inspiring quote that is pinned on her personal Twitter account is more for her than for the humble 600+ followers the setter has.
True enough, the start of Cailing’s collegiate volleyball career hasn’t been easy.
After catching the attention of UP head coach Jerry Yee in the Palarong Pambansa where she represented Region X, the setter-spiker missed the final cut for the Lady Maroons’ lineup for Season 78.
In her own words, being on a 3-way tug-of-war against prized recruit Mae Basarte and veteran Jewel Lai was far from easy.
“Para sa akin, sobrang hirap na habulin sila. Nandun na kasi sila sa mataas na level. Ako papunta pa lang,” admitted Cailing.
Having been relegated to Team B, Cailing, who is a former teammate of UE starter Judith Abil, continued to grind during training, silently hoping to one day get more playing time to apply her hardwork.
Then came the sudden departure of Lai due to academic issues, which propelled Cailing to crack the lineup in the 13th Shakey’s V-League Open Conference to backstop Basarte.
With Basarte busy leading UP’s Team B in a tournament held in Baguio, Cailing was temporarily at the helm of the Diliman crew’s offense during the early goings of the competition.
Unfortunately, jitters got the best of her as she crumbled under pressure.
Talking about the rough road to improvement, she says: “Mahirap naman talaga ‘yung role ko as a setter. Hindi ako mapupunta diyan kung hindi ko paghihirapan. Kaya kahit ano’ng hirap, kinakaya ko talaga.”
“Hindi ko na lang pine-pressure sarili ko. Nagte-training pa rin ako ng tuloy-tuloy para pag mabigyan ako ng time sa court, maibigay ko kung ano ang kailangan,” she added.
Cailing’s performance at the Collegiate Conference Wednesday, however, was a different story.
As Basarte struggled to deliver the goods in a crucial match against San Sebastian, Cailing was called for duty at the tail-end of the second frame and surprisingly—considering how she did just a couple of months back—dished a steady performance to keep herself in the game up until the final buzzer with 31 excellent sets.
“Hindi ko po in-expect na maglalaro ako today. Not at all. Minsan lang naman po ako gamitin kasi si Mae (Basarte) naman ang ginagamit. Sub-sub lang ako eh. Pa-ilan ilang minutes lang,” the beaming playmaker told FOX Sports.
“Sinabi naman ni coach na maghanda-handa lang kami sa bench kasi tatawag talaga siya. The past few games, parang pinapasok-pasok na niya ako kahit konting oras lang. Kaya kanina nahanda ko naman sarili ko,” she added.
Naturally, the fans’ reaction online were nothing short of positive.
Ranging from applauding Cailing’s nerves of steel to asking for more playing time for her, the setter was a revelation who helped power UP to its first Final Four finish in the Collegiate Conference.
Even UP skipper Kathy Bersola was impressed, saying: “Dati ang laking problema kung saan kami pupulot ng setter. Napakahirap mag train ng setter. Kaya proud ako sa kanya na nagse-step up siya.”
The incoming sophomore’s sets were far from perfect but they were efficient enough for it showcased her spikers’ ability to adjust and still convert.
“Nag-error ako nung simula pero nung third set okay na. Nakapag-adjust na ako. Kailangan kasi eh. Nung nakita ko ‘yung R5 ni coach, nakita ko ako ulit sa third set kaya kailangan ko mag adjust,” recalled Cailing.
On finally seeing the fruits of her labor, she adds: “Sobrang saya ko kasi natapos ko ‘yung game na okay naman ginawa ko kahit medyo may error. Lalo na kasi parang malaki ang part ko na napunta kami sa Final Four.”
The beginning is, indeed, challenging for any athlete trying to make a name for his or her self in any sport.
But if the setter’s on-going journey is any proof, never giving up surely has perks waiting for those who are not weak-hearted.
“Malaki po matutulong nito sa confidence ko. Sana from this point on, makalaro pa ako lalo,” Cailing closed. — By Mac Dionisio