[Here is Part 13 of our long-running WAGS (Wives and Girlfriends) Series]
ABY MaraÃ±o is known as a beast of a competitor on the volleyball court, but the star spiker can also be on beast mode off it.
Just ask her boyfriend, San Beda player Robert Bolick.
For most basketball players, inspiration readily comes with one glance at a supportive partner cheering them on from the stands. Well, MaraÃ±o is not the typical girlfriend of an athlete, as Bolick has come to know in their years together.
A multi-titled volleyball player going back to her days with the De La Salle Lady Spikers in the UAAP, MaraÃ±o never hesitates to speak her mind, even unafraid to point out Bolickâs mistakes on the court.
âHindi ako âyung type ng girlfriend na lagi ko siyang pine-praise na, âAng galing mo.â Minsan pine-praise ko siya pero âyung sarcastic na alam niyang hindi ako impressed,â said MaraÃ±o.
For MaraÃ±o, though, itâs her way of motivating Bolick to keep improving as a basketball player. In fact, the 24-year-old MaraÃ±o said she has been that way ever since they started dating back when Bolick was still playing for La Salle's Green Archers.
MaraÃ±o said she only wants the best for his beau. Being an athlete herself, she also knows how to strike a balance between giving him positive encouragement and a little ânegative motivation.â
âNegative motivation lang. Minsan mag-aaway kami na sasabihin niya wala akong support at kaya ako nandito (maglaro ng basketball) para sa future namin. Sa isip-isip ko lang, tama âyan para ma-push pa siya,â she said.
âKapag masyado naman ako supportive, baka isipin niya na, âAng galling-galing ko naman,ââ added the two-time UAAP MVP.
Having a fellow athlete as a motivator is just one of the advantages in their relationship, MaraÃ±o said, as they both understand the demands of playing sports at the highest levels.
In turn, Bolick also gives the same treatment to her when itâs MaraÃ±oâs turn to be on the volleyball court.
âParang nagco-coach na kasi, ganun din siya sa game ko na sinasabi niya, 'Hindi maganda âyung ginawa ko.' Sabi ko, âAno bang alam mo sa volleyball?ââ she said with a smile.
âKaya nagkakaintindihan kami. Kunwari maaga ang training niya, maaga rin ako natutulog,â added MaraÃ±o, currently with PSL team on leave F2 Logistics while being part of the 25-woman Philippine volleyball pool.
Most of the time, when their schedules donât clash, MaraÃ±o is at the stands to support Bolick - an experience that gives her a fresh perspective which she can share to Bolick.
âMeron lang ako nakatabi from La Salle na sabi niya, ipakita niya (Bolick) kung ano âyung hind mo napakita sa La Salle. Sabi ko sa kanya, tignan mo kahit ibang team, meron pa rin naniniwala sayo,â said MaraÃ±o.
So far, MaraÃ±oâs encouragement appears to be paying off.
After an uneventful finals appearance for La Salle in 2013, the 21-year-old Bolick is fresh from his best stint as a college player last year when he helped lead the Red Lions to the NCAA Season 92 championship.
True to her personality, MaraÃ±o wasn't shy to dish out advice to her boyfriend in the days leading up to the NCAA Finals.
âHindi naman kami nag-uusap ng masinsinan about sa finals. Ang perspective ko kasi, kailangan one week before the finals, naka-mindset ka na and the day before the game, hindi na dapat pinaguusapan âyung finals para hindi ma-excite,â she said.
âAng nasabi ko lang sa kanya, âMagpakita ka kung ano âyung hindi nakikita ng tao sa 'yo. Ipakita mo kasi may mga hindi naniniwala sa 'yo. This is your time.â Lagi kong sinasabi sa kanya, âThis is your time. Wala ng bukas, make the most out of it na part ka ng first five at nasa championship ka na,â added MaraÃ±o.
Bolick continues to blossom as one of the top players of San Beda, and currently struts his wares for Cignal in the PBA D-League.
With the way things are going, MaraÃ±o is confident he will be able to land a spot in the PBA soon.
âNakikita ko na malayo pa ang mararating niya. âYung work ethic niya, hands down ako kasi na-beat pa niya âyung work ethic ko nung college ko. Ibang klase siya mag-work out. Malaki na ang improvement niya kaya nakikita ko na malaki ang chance niya na makapag-PBA,â said MaraÃ±o.Â