Forget the hype - Dani is blessed to be a Ravena
Anton Roxas on Feb 02, 2019 12:09 PM
“I grew up with a lot of negative comments already. Even before I started playing for Ateneo, people online would say things like, ‘(I) would pass ACET just because I was a Ravena’.” - Dani Ravena
Imagine having to wake up at five o’clock in morning just to run laps and lift weights, attend a series of classes in school before undergoing a second training session administered by Coach Tai Bundit all in the same day. And then having to do a similar routine at least five times a week for an entire year.
That was the life of Danielle Theris Crisologo Ravena as a freshman student-athlete at the Ateneo.
For Dani, as she is fondly called, it’s a life that she knew she would one day be living because of the family that she was born into.
The Ravenas hail from the province of Iloilo. But, former pro athletes Bong and Mozzy are now based in Marikina where they raised their three talented children. Kiefer is patiently waiting to return to action for the NLEX Road Warriors in the PBA while Thirdy is training hard to win a third straight UAAP championship with the Ateneo Blue Eagles. As successful and competitive as her parents and older brothers are, the pressure for Dani to measure up to them was, is and will always be there. Even if it isn’t a requirement mandated on her by the family.
Dani’s first sport was actually badminton. She played competitively for five years before experiencing an inevitable epiphany.
“One day, out of nowhere, I told my Mom, ‘Ayoko na mag-badminton. I want to play volleyball.’”
Mozzy, being a former UAAP star with UST, exposed her to the game at a young age but did not directly instruct her daughter to follow in her footsteps.
“I never really thought that I would play like my Mom. But, I realized that this is what I love too.”
Rubie De Leon, Tina Salak and Jem Ferrer were soon added to Dani’s list of volleyball players she idolized when she attended Miriam High School and started competing in various leagues like the WNCAA, CCAA and DepEd tournament. She spent four years learning the game at Miriam, starting her volleyball journey at the utility position before being converted into a setter during her second year of high school. Soon after, she met Alyssa Valdez, Jia Morado and decided that she wanted to be just like them and go to Ateneo for college.
But, not everybody supported Dani’s dreams. As news started to emerge about a new Ravena landing in Loyola Heights, so did obscure online personalities who attempted to rain on her parade.
“I grew up with a lot of negative comments already. Even before I started playing for Ateneo, people online would say things like, ‘(I) would pass ACET just because I was a Ravena’.”
While her mother advised her not to respond to the hurtful words being hurled at her on social media, Dani does admit that there are times when she can’t help but stand up for herself.
“I’ll be honest. I’ll never get used to it. I don’t know how athletes and artists can completely block off the negativity that is being said about them. And I’m very protective, especially with my brothers. We don’t ask people to train for us. We don’t tell people, ‘O ikaw mag-libero for today kasi pagod ako.’ Our family is known because of the hard work and effort that we put into the sport that we love.”
“Yes, there are perks with being a Ravena, a sporty family but at the same time, it was not an overnight success for all of us,” stressed Dani.
Having just turned 19 last December 6, Dani is still going to play her role as the libero of the Lady Eagles under new head coach Oliver Almadro. Nothing much has changed now that she’s in her sophomore year. She still wakes up at 5 AM and her father Bong drives her to school for training. He’s the reason she wears jersey number 1.
“When my Dad was in the PBA, playing with Talk ‘N Text, he was number one. My Dad wakes up with me just to drive me to training so I really wanted to dedicate something to him for all that hard work. Parang nag-te-training na rin siya ng 5 AM kasi he drives me to training and stays in Moro for his 8 AM training with Talk ‘N Text where he’s now the head coach.”
No matter what age or generation, it’s apparent that every member in the Ravena household works hard. And in the upcoming UAAP Season 81 Women’s Volleyball tournament, their most beloved bunso is looking ready to grow up and take her game to the next level.
“The important thing for me this UAAP season is to focus on myself, focus on the team and our goal of winning the championship.”