Coach Laniog’s sporting career has come full circle

ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 15, 2017 09:27 AM
Coach Laniog’s sporting career has come full circle
File photo shows Sta. Elena coach Arnold Laniog (center) giving instructions to the Wrecking Balls during a timeout. (Photo by Chax Cabrera)

Not a few in the volleyball community keep telling Sta. Elena coach Arnold Laniog that he’s lucky to see at the young age of 33 his sporting career come full circle.

The observation is mainly based on two things:

One, after winning three titles and three Most Valuable Player awards for College of St. Benilde in NCAA beach volleyball, he turned coach of his collegiate team and gave his alma mater its first indoor championship in the NCAA last season.

Two, his mentor, Jose Roque, the man who discovered and recruited him to join the St. Benilde Blazers doesn’t mind sitting as his assistant on the bench. The discoverer has become the assistant of the discovered.

Roque pays tribute to the boy whom he discovered playing for Our Lady of Lourdes Academy in the then Philippine Volleyball League (high school division) when he says he’s happy to sit as assistant coach now of his former talent.

Having coached Laniog in all his five years in the NCAA, Roque had seen how his ward from San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, rigorously followed a Spartan-like study-train-eat-sleep schedule to be the best that he could be in his chosen sport.

Though without an NCAA indoor title, Laniog went on to bag three NCAA beach volleyball titles, crowning each with an MVP award.

Not many years later, Roque realized his dream of an NCAA indoor plum through his former player.

“He was a model student-athlete during his time; he did not allow distractions in his studies and sport,” said Roque of his former player.

Laniog said he was so focused on his life as a student-athlete that he, a celebrity on the campus, avoided making a girlfriend out of his adoring and swooning schoolmates. But in one of his minor subjects on his third year as a business administration student majoring in human resource  management, he met Hazel Mae Quintos, who was to become his wife years later.

“I felt a spark, yes, when I met Hazel the first time, but I didn’t court her right away,” coach Laniog said in Filipino. “I would peep into her other classrooms just to see her and get noticed by her. When she felt comfortable enough with me, I began inviting her to my beach volley games. Imagine her surprise when she found out I was a student-athlete.”

She finally said yes after more than a year of knowing each other when he was in the last semester of his studies.

Even in his love life, coach Laniog doesn’t rush things. He said he wants to be sure of every step he takes.

After securing his diploma perfectly timed at the end of his five playing years in the NCAA, Laniog was not ready yet to wean himself away from the world of sports. He took up further studies leading to a  Certificate of Physical Education and Sports in the Pamantasan ng Lunsod ng Maynila and 15 more units of masteral studies to qualify him as a P.E. teacher.

When he returned to his alma mater, he was offered the job of coaching St. Benilde’s men’s volleyball team. He was told by management that he could not be a physical education teacher at the same time but he could be in other schools. He opted to become coach of his former team and didn’t teach elsewhere.

The middle child of a former property custodian who now drives for the priests running San Beda Alabang showed the heart of a champion early in life.

As a selection from Tunkong Mangga Elementary School in San Jose del Monte, Laniog, College of St. Benilde’s Sinag Tala Male Athlete of the Year in 2005 (basis: his academic grades and sporting achievements helped the Central Luzon Region capture the elementary volleyball championship in the 1996 Palarong Pambansa.

Laniog said volleyball and his alma mater, College of St. Benilde on Taft, have been good to him.

“Through volleyball I earned a scholarship in St. Benilde and the school really took care of me. Through my first coaching job, I got more coaching offers especially after my team finished champion in the NCAA last season.”

Apart from St. Benilde and Sta. Elena in the Premier Volleyball League, an event organized by Sports Vision with Asics as ifs official league partner and Mikasa as its official game ball, Laniog is also mentoring, as a Level 1 international coach, the elementary and high school girls of the MGC-New Life Christian and the boys’ squad of International School-Manila.

For what he has become now, he gives substantial credit to his coaches who he said also helped shape his character. He is referring to coaches Cesar Yadao (elementary), Willy Ventura (high school), and Jose Roque and Babes Castillo (college).

Arnold and Hazel are now working together on a dream project. “We want to have our first baby,” the six-foot-tall husband chuckled over lunch across from Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.

With his kind of determination, nothing is impossible for coach Arnold Laniog to achieve.

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