Making a bold decision to move into a familiar place you never been to is not an easy task. It takes a lot of guts before you can even settle in and be comfortable in a totally different culture.
Vince and Katrina Tolentino, both born here in Vancouver, have made up their minds to travel for thousand miles en route to pursue their biggest goal in the Philippines – to play collegiate ball.
The choice to strut their wares on parents (Noli and Irene) motherland didn’t come on a silver platter.
The brother-and-sister tandem needed to shrugged off all the hardships and misfortune to be able to go over the hump and finally savour the sweet taste of victory.
It took two years for Vince before he even got the golden opportunity to play for the Ateneo Blue Eagles.
“I was here (Philippines) for two years before I got to play for Ateneo. I went to tryout, met with the managers. I also tried out for rival La Salle, but it was Ateneo that really stuck,” recalls Vince.
His biggest break came in UAAP Season 76 when he finally suits up for the Blue Eagles under the helm of the then first year bench tactician Bo Perasol.
It was pure disappointments in his first stint as a regular mainstay of the Eagles as the team failed to make it to the championship round.
A coaching change proved to be the turning point of his career when Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tab Baldwin took over the chores vacated by Perasol.
The team suddenly geared up for the better advancing to the Finals that year, but fell short at the hands of arch rival La Salle Green Archers.
Patience and sheer determination paid off for the 6-foot-3 forward the following year, hoisting the championship trophy in Game 3 of the 2017 finals against the same squad that spoil them the previous year, thus ending his collegiate career on a high note .
Katrina’s decision to move out of her parent’s custody was mainly inspired by his big brother.
“I was even confused why he did because I didn’t know how popular the sport is,” narrates Katrina. “I was still in Grade 11 when he moved out and it was shocking to me.”
Kat, who used to play for Air Attach volleyball team and McMath Secondary in Richmond, BC, had her own share of failures like her brother.
Injury proved to be her nemesis before she even stepped foot in Philippine soil. She suffered two Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) on her left knee. Injuries pile up on her as she tore her right one during a game in the Shakey’s V-League and had to undergo reconstructive surgery and months of rehab.
True grit coupled with inspired advice from former teammate propelled the 23-year-old spiker to lead the Lady Eagles to championship in Season 81 and was awarded the Best Opposite Spiker of the tournament.
Both victorious in their own rights, Vince and Kat’s success would definitely inspire many global Filipinos who wish to come home and play collegiate or professional ball.
Stephanie, the eldest among the three siblings and the first one to inspire Kat to play volleyball, currently lives and works in Vancouver.(Alex Mino)