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Kaylee Manns: BaliPure’s jet-setter is looking to help the team win
by rick olivares
“Funny, mom, I don’t think I am in Kansas anymore.”
Reprising that classic line from the Wizard of Oz was none other than Kaylee Manns who hails from Topeka, Kansas, but has literally traveled the world because of her volleyball career.
Manns who moved down the Interstate-35 and 70 expressways that is eight hours away to play for Iowa State during her college days is now used to the life of an international volleyball player.
Kaylee has racked up frequent flyer miles in a dizzying pace having played in Europe, South America, and Asia so much that “I can have my own Discovery Channel show,” she jokes while taking lunch with her BaliPure teammates at Cravings in busy Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City.
Manns and her new teammates in BaliPure took part in a meet and greet with elementary and high school students from Ateneo of which most of the players from the volleyball team hail from.
“I have been here in the Philippines for a while coming back and forth to play and I have seen the sport grow by leaps and bounds,” noted the 28-year old Manns who outside the Metro traffic loves life in the islands. “Playing international volleyball, I love the adventure, indulging myself in different cultures, and meeting new people. It has certainly opened my eyes to so many things. Playing abroad for so long has definitely made me more resilient, independent, worldly-wise if even possible, and well, open to new things.”
Most recently, she played eight months in Turkey. While it was fun, she was away far too long from loved ones. She was prepared to head back Stateside when Charo Soriano, former BaliPure coach turned player, inquired if she wanted to suit up for a short tournament in the Shakey’s V-League Reinforced Conference. “I just played in Turkey last year where it was an eight-month season. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do something that long and BaliPure offered something short and right before the year’s end; I thought it was perfect.”
“Plus, I have known some of these girls (from the team) before so it was an easy decision,” added Manns.
The outgoing, adventurous, and highly optimistic Manns cited the Philippines as one of her favorite places outside her home in the United States. “I love Brazil – the culture, the people, the liveliness; everyone’s so relaxed. I love Switzerland. It so clean. It’s like Disneyland. It’s like nothing bad happens there. I took up skiing. Here in the Philippines where everyone seems like you are a part of their family. Everyone helps each other out and that is one thing I love about the culture here. Traffic may be bad in Manila and its got a lot of people but 45 minutes out, it’s like paradise. So I love that.”
The Purest Water Defenders have lost some vital cogs in Alyssa Valdez, Grethcel Soltones, Janine Marciano, and Alyssa Eroa but have picked up former San Sebastian star Sasa Devanadera, Sue Roces who played with the Lady Eagles once upon a time in the SVL, Manns and her compatriot Kate Morrell who is a powerful open hitter. Anusorn Bundit, Ateneo coach and former Pocari Sweat team consultant is now the team’s head coach. Some of the mainstays from the team’s maiden conference during the SVL season-opener include Denden Lazaro, Dzi Gervacio, Mae Tajima, Amy Ahomiro, Bea Tan, and Soriano to name a few.
“We’ve began training like what – five days ago? We’re still in the process of learning to play together,” described Manns. “It helps that we all super get along with each other. As for Coach Tai, he’s intense, I like that. He never stops and never gives time for rest; sort of what I was used to back home. I hope to bring my game and experience to this team and to lead them to a championship. I’m a very vocal person on the court and I’ll say the honest truth how we are performing. I will not sugarcoat things. Tell me what you need from me and I will tell you what I need from you.”
“Hopefully, we can put everything together and lead BaliPure to a championship. That would be a nice story to tell how a girl from Kansas helped a club team from the Philippines realize its dreams.”