MANILA, Philippines -- Regine Diego is well aware of the pressure she is facing as the new head coach of the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL).
The former De La Salle University player is making her coaching debut in the professional ranks after previously coaching the Nazareth School of National University girls' volleyball team and serving as a member of the Lady Bulldogs' coaching staff in the UAAP.
She immediately takes on one of the most high-profile jobs in the local volleyball scene, calling the shots for an F2 Logistics squad that is itching to improve upon a disappointing campaign in the PVL's 2022 season.
"I was honored and happy," said Diego of her reaction to her appointment as F2 Logistics coach.
It was no less than multi-titled mentor Ramil de Jesus who chose Diego for the position, with support from the La Salle community and the team owners. She took over the post from Benson Bocboc, a longtime assistant of de Jesus who coached the Cargo Movers last year.
"I'm grateful for them [for] giving me this chance. But siyempre, I have to prove myself," she said.
Diego knows that expectations are high for the Cargo Movers, as they hope to live up to their usual standards this season after failing to make a semifinal appearance in any of the conferences last year. They finished sixth in the Open Conference and fifth in the Reinforced. F2 Logistics also opted not to participate in the midseason Invitational.
"With the pressure, I think wala naman tayong magagawa diyan. Andiyan lang 'yan eh," said Diego. "So whatever I do, win or lose, I know there's always somebody hating on me, or somebody supporting me."
"So all I can do, all my team or our team can do is to do our best every game, and try to improve every day, and pag andoon na kami, then let's see," she added.
The Cargo Movers have been training under Diego's guidance for a month now, and the coach is optimistic that they will have a strong showing in the All-Filipino Conference that starts on February 4. She believes that being a female coach will work to her advantage, especially as some of her players were also her former teammates.
"I think I'm in a good place, because it feels so much easier for me to talk to them. Not just as a coach, but also as a friend, also as a teammate, so they understand what I'm trying to translate," she said. "Doon kami lamang. 'Yung relationship na babae sa babae."
"Hopefully ma-translate din ito sa laro, hindi lang sa relationships with each other na we're also friends, we're also ex-teammates. Now, we're a team now. So we have to like, bring all these girls up to where we were before. To have that feeling of [being a] champion again," said Diego, who played for de Jesus in La Salle in the 2000s.
Diego also knows that she has another responsibility as the lone female coach in the league. She is quick to stress that while she is happy to be the first, she does not want to be the last, and being a trailblazer for other female coaches is a role she takes seriously.
"It's also very pressuring," she admits. "Kasi siyempre I'm going to lead, or I have to be a good example for these ladies and girls who are supporting Philippine volleyball."
"But hopefully, we'll do our best and I'll do my best. And, hopefully, I'll be… Hopefully a woman can be the last man standing for this year," she added.