How 'Doc AJ' stayed ready for beach volleyball tryouts

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 17 2021 03:52 PM

AJ Pareja during the beach volleyball tryouts in Subic. Handout photo

MANILA, Philippines -- During the recent tryouts for the national beach volleyball team in Subic, AJ Pareja wowed his fellow athletes with his performance.

Pareja, who is vying to become an accredited FIVB doctor, made it to the 10-man pool for the national men's beach volleyball team.

The 6-foot-4 athlete is balancing his career as a doctor as well as being a beach volleyball player, which he said isn't "an overnight success."

"Regardless if gyms or training facilities were closed, I kept my physical condition with home-based workouts as well as keeping my nutrition in check despite the constant temptation of binging at home," said Pareja, who had the comebacking James Pecaña as his partner during the tryouts.

"The biggest key to my performance is having a professional coach who helped me study the sport at home and analyze lots and lots of videos of how the elite level beach players do it," he added.

Pareja is no stranger in playing for the country, as the former Ateneo de Manila University middle hitter made a triumphant return to indoor volleyball in 2015 when he represented the Philippines in the 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.

It marked the first time in 10 years that the Philippines competed in the SEA Games.

Prior to that, Pareja passed the Physician Licensure Examination in 2014. Since then, Pareja was able to juggle time with his profession and the sport that he loves.

"I've been living out this balancing act ever since from college, med school, even during medical practice so I kind of have a grasp of it," Pareja explained. "It's all about accepting that both commitments have high demands and figuring out when you can compromise effort for either one without negatively affecting the overall result."

"I've learned to say no when it doesn't help in the progress of either commitment. It also helps a lot to have a support circle that understands your frequent absences because of these commitments," the former UAAP MVP added.

Aside from making it to the national team pool, Pareja is also part of the Creamline beach volleyball program.

"As the team MD of Creamline Beach, I will ensure that the athletes are free from any injuries and that they're keeping themselves safe and healthy despite the pandemic. Drafting the medical protocols for all team activities has been both a learning and fulfilling activity for me especially to my other life as an MD," said Pareja, who joined the program last year.

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