OPINION: On that Ateneo women’s volleyball manager issue

Rick Olivares

Posted at Dec 27 2016 05:45 PM | Updated as of Dec 27 2016 05:46 PM

The news that the men behind the ascent of the Ateneo women's volleyball program is out. More specifically, Ricky Palou and Tonyboy Liao are no longer with the team.

While I understand that Mr. Palou is of retireable age as the Ateneo University athletics director, Mr. Liao, who isn’t a school official, has acted in the capacity of team manager for over eight years now. He’s been there for the lean years up to the championship seasons.

The word is the school doesn’t want any team managers (from what I know this was instituted during the time of former vice president for planning, Fr. Carmelo Caluag) on their varsity teams anymore. From what I heard from Mr. Liao, he can be a supporter. 

Now I guess that is fine if that is how they want it. Each to his own. However, here’s the rub – why didn’t the school officially inform Mr. Liao? Why did he need to find this out in the media? Or is some other corporate entity spending now for the team? Did someone drop the ball on this? 

And furthermore, why does the basketball team have a manager? Or is the basketball program still an autonomous republic as it has always been? 

Even if the basketball team remains so, the volleyball program has also been a most successful program in terms of impact and high visibility. While other Ateneo programs from football to swimming to judo, to name a few, have also done well, they haven’t – and with all due respect -- been as high profile as the volleyball and, of course, the basketball programs. The media and fan coverage alone is apples and oranges in terms of comparison. 

Whatever the reason for going in this direction, the fallout smacks of bad public relations and a lack of gratitude. Didn’t it occur to someone in the know that it would have happened this way?

Even worse, the timing is terrible. Christmas time and on the eve of the UAAP volleyball tournament. I don’t think this “no managers” thing was conjured in the last few weeks. This in all likelihood began with the new school year. 

While this might not affect the players, it could possibly affect the coaching staff. That is the team’s Thai head coach Anusorn Bundit who Mr. Liao brought in. 

I witnessed the lean years when all the team tried to do was win the battle for seventh place against the University of the Philippines (National University was always in the cellar). I was there when Ronald Dulay took over and was followed by Roger Gorayeb. Both men recruited and built the foundation for what would be its champion teams in the V-League and in the UAAP. This isn’t meant to take away from Bundit, who is a huge part in the team’s elevation to a championship squad, but you have to give credit where it is due no matter what. 

Unfortunately, everyone who now built that program – save for program director Sherwin Malonzo – is out. 

Hopefully, both parties – Ateneo and the tag team of Messrs. Palou and Liao -- will find a happy middle ground.

If not, this is the worst possible parting of ways. More so for Mr. Liao, a second time (this also happened in La Salle).

It’s just disappointing because some things could have been avoided. 

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.