Fiery and fun: Jeanette Panaga of the CSB Lady Blazers
Ceej Tantengco on Dec 14, 2015 06:39 PM
(via Jeanette Panaga's Facebook)
Jeanette Panaga knows how to have fun. The College of Saint Benilde Lady Blazers’ star hitter has just come from their pre-game ritual: playing music and dancing in the dugout. “Ganyan talaga kami,” she says. “Ngayon, Justin Bieber pinapatugtog namin.” (You can hear the team clapping along to ‘Sorry’ from behind the closed door.)
Short hair pushed back with headband, a tangle of long limbs sprawled over a chair, Season 90’s Best Spiker and Best Blocker is quick to crack a joke—as affable and funny off the court as she is intimidating on it.
Fun has always been part of the equation for Jeanette, a former shot-putter who got into volleyball as a high school sophomore. “Tinutukso kasi ako ng mga kaibigan kong bakla!” laughed Jeanette. “Ang laki-laki ko daw na tao, bakit hindi ako nagvo-volleyball. Kaya ayun, sila nagturo sa akin.”
“Enjoy na enjoy ako [noong nagsisimula pa lang ako]. Kahit tinatamaan ako sa mukha ng bola, okay lang,” she adds. By the time she graduated high school, she had competed in the Central Luzon Regional Athletic Association and had two tours in the Palarong Pambansa.
Perhaps you can pin down Jeanette’s success to how much she enjoys the sport. “Kapag gusto mo kasi ginagawa mo, kahit gaanong kahirap ‘yung training, kahit gaano kang ka-pagod, okay lang talaga,” she gushes. Because she loves the game for the game itself, the highs feel higher; the challenges, more bearable.
Good thing, because head coach Macky Carino is puts the Lady Blazers through a rigorous training program. “Galing kasi sa men’s team si Coach, kaya parang lalaki ang trato sa amin. Strikto talaga,” Jeanette explains, crediting the system with forming more a disciplined team.
This year, the Lady Blazers look to top last season’s finish while also laying the foundation for next one. “Nagsisimula kami from zero. Tatlo sa amin mawawala next year kaya ngayon pa lang, nagpasok na si coach ng maraming rookies para masanay sila at hindi manibago next year,” says Jeanette.
“Aim talaga namin umabot sa dulo,” she adds. Not by choosing between high technical skill and a light-hearted enjoyment of the game—but with a dangerous combination of both.
Follow this writer on Twitter: @ceejtheday