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Up close with FEU volleyball star Rachel Anne Daquis

February 2, 2008 12:40am
Most fans probably think college athletes are the type who would rush out with their barkada to go on a gimikL in between training sessions and games. Not Rachel Anne Daquis. The 20-year-old star of the Far Eastern University women's volleyball team would rather stay in the comfort of her own home and sleep.

"Pag hindi ko na kaya dahil pagod sa training or sa game, ang gusto ko eh matulog na lang at magpahinga," Daquis said in a recent interview with GMANews.TV.

If she does go out, the fourth year Business Management student would to shop: "Kung may time rin naman, mas gusto eh ang mag shopping."

Or else she would travel all the way to be to Boracay to enjoy its white sand beach.

As with most athletes, she has no vices.

“I don’t drink, I don’t smoke," Daquis said. "I do go out sometimes with my friends, pero kung may kasama or bantay lang kami."

Daquis, however, breaks the stereotype of the college athlete as a bonehead.

"Ang akala nila sa athletes, walang utak," she said. "Hindi nila alam pinaghihirapan din naming ang nakukuha naming incentives sa school. Minsan kasi as athletes nahihirapan din kami, napapagod. Paminsan pagkatapos ng training ang gusto ko eh ang matulog na lang. Pag higa ko, hindi ko na kaya tumayo. Sobrang hirap ng training namin. Minsan pag hindi ko na kaya pumasok, kakausapin ko professors ko just to let them know (about my situation)."

Road to FEU

Daquis, a native of Taytay, Rizal, first went with her mother to the University of Santo Tomas in Manila in the summer of 2004 hoping to get the chance to play for its varsity volleyball squad.The 5-foot-9 Daquis played junior volleyball at the Juan Sumulong Memorial High School in Taytay also as an open and center spiker.

But as luck would have it, she didn't get a chance to show off her skills as head coach Augusto Sta. Maria and the team were in the province participating in a volleyball meet.

“Kasama ko ang mother ko at nagpunta kami sa UST pero nung time na iyun wala kaming naabutan dun at nasa province daw sila," Daquis recalled. "May nagsabi samin na bumalik na lang daw kami. Nabanggit pa nga nga ng nakausap namin na may chance ako makuha kasi matangkad ako."

So Daquis and her mother went instead to FEU for a try-out for its women’s volleyball team, which admitted her. Daquis is now on her fourth year with the Lady Tamaraws as an open and middle spiker.

"I was given a chance to play for them that’s why I’m here," she said.

Aside from playing varsity volleyball in high school, Daquis also moonlighted as a ramp model and endorser of Nike and other clothing lines.

Daquis, the oldest of three children, also said that she acts as a big sister to some of her team mates who are currently in their rookie and sophomore years.

“I act as a big sister to my teammates," she said. "Yung way naman eh magkaka-level kami hindi yung para ako ang senior. Ako yung type na malambing sa kanila."

Rivals in the UAAP

FEU has the most UAAP women’s volleyball titles at 28. UST comes in second with 14 titles.

Ironically, it's UST, her first choice of school, that Daquis considers the biggest stumbling block of the Lady Tamaraws in their quest to win back the UAAP women's volleyball crown.

The other strong teams for her are Adamson, De La Salle, and Ateneo.

“Actually, most of the teams in the UAAP are very competitive that’s why hindi kami gaano nagre-relax (in every game)," Daquis said. "The games are also unpredictable. Kung dati madali mo ma-predict kung sino ang mananalo, ngayon hindi na. Sa game naman kasi, kung sino rin ang condition, kung sino prepared ang body at mind, yun ang may chance manalo. Kahit anong galing ng team kung di rin condition katawan sa laro, wala rin iyun."

She herself has had the experience of being out of condition.

Last year, during the second conference of the Shakey's V-League she sprained her anke. While attempting to spike a ball, she accidentally stepped on the foot of one of her teammates on the way down, twisting her left ankle.

That's one of the things her fans lilke about her – the way she jumps whenever she goes for a spike. "Parang yun kasi ang mark ko sa volleyball. Trademark na wala ng ibang gumagawa," she said.

But since getting the ankle sprain, she has had to go easy on that a trademark jump.

"Yung na injure ako, ang laki ng sama ng loob ko," she said. "Yung pinaghirapan ko, training ko nawala lahat. Yung expectation ko sa sarili ko hindi naging 100 percent dahil sa injury. Sana by next year, things will change for me."

To get back into fighting form, Daquis had to endure two months of therapy at the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) headquarters in Manila. She said despite the therapy, her injury has not yet fully healed even, though she's been playing well in her team’s recent matches.

But she's not satisfied.

"Sinasabi ng mga tao na sprain lag yan, na kaya mo bumalik," she said. "Nung naka-recover na ang paa ko, nag training na ako, pero hindi pa bumalik ang laro ko. Ang laki ng tinaba, at masakit.pa din. Para maiwasan ma aggravate ang injury, naglalagay ako ng tape support."

Daquis, won the UAAP award as Best Server in 2006, is also troubled by back pains during practices and games. It's only the will to win, she said, that makes the pain go away.

Possible stint with the Philippine team

Daquis denied rumors that she refused to play for the Philippine women’s volleyball team. The rumors started because she failed to attend the practice sessions run by national head coach August Sta. Maria at the UST gym.

“Actually, kinuha ako ni coach Sta. Maria pero hindi ako pumayag kasi ang training namin sa FEU 3 to 6 p.m. Tapos sa Philippine team, 6 to 9 p.m.," she said. "Tapos sa umaga, may klase ako. Baka mamatay naman ako nun. Sabi rin ng coach ko makakapaghintay naman yan. Ako din ang mahihirapan kasi kay coach August, bawal din ang mag-absent."

Bur right after the UAAP season, she might join the team’s practices.

She added that aside from graduating in college, one of her goals is to give FEU another volleyball crown. Winning an individual award will also be a welcome development.

"Ang goal ko talaga eh ang makapag-tapos ng pag-aaral," she said. "Pero siyempre ang isa pang goal ko eh ang mabigyan ng korona ang FEU."

Daquis also welcomed the idea of having a semi-pro league for the women’s volleyball patterned after the Philippine Basketball League (PBL).

Not 'mataray'

Daquis denied being unapproachable, mataray, because of the way she looks.

"Wala naman nagbago sa akin," she said. "May mga tao kasi na insecure na minsan titignan lang ang hitsura ng tao pero hindi ka naman kilala at magbibigay na sila ng judgment sayo. Ibang-iba ang personalty ko sa hitsura ko. Akala nila mahilig ako sa gimik, sosyalan, pero ang gusto ko lang nagpapatawa at pasayahin mga tao. May pagka-kenkoy din kasi ako."

She is, however, wary of getting too friendly with just anyone, because they might turn out to be stalkers.

"Madaming stalkers," she said. "Nakakatakot sila. During the game, may nagpapaabot ng flowers or may kakausap sakin. Okey lang naman at fans pero sometimes, iba na ang boses nila. But despite that, pinapakita ko pa rin na friendly ako kasi madaming hindi nakakakilala sa 'kin at akala na mataray ako."

Among the UAAP players from other teams she's close to are UST players Denise Tan and Angeli Tabaquero.

"Si Denise at Angge, okey naman sila sakin," Daquis said.

She'd rather play than watch

Daquis is one of those athletes who'd rather play than just watch.

"I like playing volleyball but I’m not an avid watcher of international tournaments," she said. "May mga gusto ako international players, pero hanggang dun lang."

But she does have some observations on the state of Philippine volleyball.

"Masyadong bata kasi ang mga players natin," she said. "Yung mga dating naglaro sa 2005 SEA Games masyado pang bata so kailangan pa ng more international exposure."

Daquis herself may get international exposure of a slightly different sort.

Her mother is already a citizen of Germany, where she lives in Hanover. And Daquis, along with the rest of family, my soon migrate.

"Actually, pwede na akong magtapos this coming October," she said. "Hinihintay na kami ng mom ko sa Germany. Ako lang talaga ang gusto mag stay pa dito sa bansa."

Which is undoubtedly a relief to her fans. - GMANews.TV
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