Last season, De La Salle Lipa Men’s Volleyball Team (MVT) was hailed champion of the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) South–a victory the team had hungered for, for 11 years.
From the team who reclaimed the throne stands out Adrian Macaraig, a 4th year BS Entrepreneurship student, a setter who helped to quench the long championship drought.
Grasping the ball
As early as grade six, the native of San Jose, Batangas showed exceptional talent in volleyball. It was only his first year of playing, but he was able to represent Calabarzon in the Palarong Pambansa.
“Simpleng bata lang ako, ang alam ko yung mga dig lang,” Adrian described himself then.
Yet, he manifested potentials of a volleyball prodigy, and secured himself a spot in the mythical team in his first national volleyball competition as the best setter.
Starting then, Adrian’s life as a student-athlete began. He shifted to sepak takraw in his first and second year high school, and returned to volleyball on his third year, where his streak as a setter started.
Before becoming the Chevron’s setter, Adrian was first a player for the University of Perpetual Help System Dalta Molino in Cavite.
In a game between Altas (UPHSD-Molino’s MVT) and the Chevrons last 2012, his former high school teammate Geofrey Aguila, then member of the Chevron MVT, recognized him as a Batangueno. It was then when the Chevrons started showing interest in acquiring him as an asset for the team. And since DLSL is nearer to his home and he believed it will help him more to achieve his dreams to become an athlete, he accepted the offer.
“Mas maganda kasi yung program dito… systematic sya. May mga basic program na pinapagawa bago sumabak sa mahihirap na training,” Adrian said. “Mas maganda rin [ang benefits] sa DLSL.”
When asked why he did not try out for DLSL at once during his first year, he said that he perceived DLSL has high standards in recruiting players that he was intimidated to try.
“Tingin ko kasi dati, high-standard ang La Salle kapag kumukuha ng athlete. Na-intimidate agad ako mag-try out,” he said.
In the year 2014, he finally became a part of the institution’s volleyball team.
Yet, Adrian was not able to play for the NCAA and other major tournaments at once, because of the one-year residency rule of the said leagues, which prohibits transferees to play on official games for the first year after they transfer schools. He was then only allowed to play on invitational games such as Friendship Solidarity Cup hosted by DLSL.
In spite of this, Adrian was relieved for still having been given the benefits of a Lasallian athlete. “Ito yung maganda sa La Salle, kahit residente meron pa ring [benefits],” he said.
As per Adrian’s team mates, he is a hardworking, persistent and kind player.
“Kahit ganun height niya, sumasabay pa din s’ya sa other tall players. S’ya yung nagbibigay ng play at strategies sa loob ng court para maka-execute nang maganda ‘yung attackers namin,” Jerald De Castro, Chevron’s libero said.
Their team captain, Derick Delizo supports this.
“Ako bilang team captain nila, si Adrian na yung parang co-captain ko. Kung wala sya, mahihirapan pumuntos ang spikers,” he said.
Aside from his skills inside the court, he is also known as the quiet guy who is always willing to listen.
“Napakabait, napakatahimik, humble at sobrang down to earth [ni Adrian]. Madaling mag-share [sa kanya] ng personal o di personal na kwento,” Delizo added.
When he debuted for the Chevrons in 2015, they failed in their championship run in the NCAA South and settled for a bronze medal finish.
However, this only made him hungry to give his new alma mater its long awaited championship.
Finally, they won the championship on the next year, ending their 11-year championship drought. On the same year, he was awarded as the best server for the mythical team.
In addition, they also won back-to-back championships in the Southern Luzon College and Universities Athletic Association (SLCUAA) in 2015 and 2016 where he was recognized as the Most Valuable Player in 2015 and Best Server of the Mythical Team in 2016.
Aside from these, they have also won and participated in other invitational tournaments such as Brother Greg Cup in De La Salle Zobel in 2015 where he was also selected as a mythical team member.
But he refused to take all the credit, saying that their coach and the program were also factors for their victory.
His contributions to the team and his personal awards are something that will remain engraved in DLSL Volleyball. However, for him playing here is just a stepping stone for his dreams playing in commercial leagues.
“Gusto ko ma-experience maglaro sa mga commercial leagues katulad ng PSL (Philippine Super Liga),” he said.
For the meantime, he is focused on playing as a Chevron because his performance will be the key for his future. Meanwhile, Adrian also gave an advice for his fellow student athletes.
“Kung gusto mo talagang may makuhang goal, maging desidido ka sa ginagawa mo at magkaroon ka ng disiplina. ‘Wag kakalimutan si God. At kapag naniwala ka na kaya mo, claim it. Magpursigi at maniwala ka na kaya mo,” he said.