MOST coaches in any sport began their career after their playing days were over.
Not Roger Gorayeb.
The amiable volleyball mentor of San Sebastian actually started out coaching while he was still playing for the Stags, being installed in 1984 in the middle of his college career with the team.
The 59-year-old Gorayeb related the story of how he became a coach during a recent SPIN Sidelines episode.
“Nung 1984, ‘yung coach namin, umalis at nagpuntang Australia, si Marino Salinas. Wala kaming coach. Eh team captain ako. Hawakan ko daw muna,” said Gorayeb, who not only became the head coach of the men’s team but also the women’s and juniors teams.
Gorayeb’s first year in coaching was a successful one to say the least, winning the championship in all three of the teams he handled in the NCAA. To his knowledge, it was the first triple crown in the league, with Ateneo being the last team to sweep when volleyball only had two divisions.
Although he readily took the challenge, Gorayeb said he was surprised that the responsibility was assigned to him at such a young age. He also felt he was appointed with the job because of him being a responsible working student.
“Ako kasi aral, laro lang ako sa totoo lang,” said Gorayeb, who was 23 years old when he was appointed as San Sebastian coach. “Sobrang responsable ko kasi at the age of 18, may trabaho na ako. Ang unang course ko kasi finances engineering. Naka-graduate ako 18 years old tapos nag-trabaho ako sa Philippine Airlines. Mekaniko ako ng eroplano doon.
“Nung 1980s, na-retrench ako kasi bumagsak ‘yung PAL, eh at the time, pa-regular na ako. Pagdating ng 1981, sabi ko mag-aaral uli ako,” Gorayeb said.
Gorayeb initially attempted to go to Letran and take up journalism, but was rejected. He was then walking along Recto when he saw the gym of San Sebastian with volleyball players training.
“Naglalakad lakad ako pauwi ng Recto. Noong araw, gilid ng Recto, nandyan ‘yung bintana ng gym. Nakita ko nagba-volleyball tapos may nakapaskil, tryout. So pinuntahan ko the following day. Nakuha na ako,” Gorayeb said.
During practices, Gorayeb said he would usually lead the team before their coach arrives.
“Hindi ako nale-late sa practice. Maaga ako sa practice. Ako nagkakabit ng net. Di ko na kailangan ‘yung utusan ako. Nung third year college ako, minsan dadating ‘yung coach ko, kasi nasa PUP din siya, sasabihin niya, ‘Ano na nagawa niyo?’ Sasabihin ko nakatakbo na kami, ganito. Sa akin lang niya pinapagawa ‘yun araw araw,” said Gorayeb.
When he graduated with a degree in accounting, San Sebastian asked Gorayeb to stay as the head coach even though he was already working as a salesman in Zuellig.
“Ayaw ako paalisin. Sabi niya (San Sebastian president), Roger we want you to stay. Magtrabaho ka sa labas, pero we want you to sit on the bench. Hanap ka na lang ng assistant, hayaan mo siya magpatakbo sa practice, pero sa laro nandoon ka. Nung nagtrabaho ako, natiyempo naman na ang area ko Divisoria, Quiapo, malapit sa Baste. Nakakapasyal ako. Nandoon ako sa Baste sa umaga, tapos aalis ako,” said Gorayeb.
The rest was history with Gorayeb engineering the volleyball program, stamping his class in the women’s division where he won 11 straight titles early in his coaching career, and producing several players along the way.
“Sobrang successful ako,” said Gorayeb, referring to the women’s teams he handled.
Catch the episode of SPIN Sidelines with Gorayeb as guest below: