This appears on abs-cbnnews.com
Iris Tolenada’s father marvels at volleyball’s growth
by rick olivares
The man in the baseball cap cut an imposing figure despite being seated. For the entire tournament, he’d clap, cheer, whistle, and shake his hands with every triumph by the Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors.
After the Bureau of Customs Transformers’ Alyssa Valdez -- of all people -- mis-received a serve, giving the Lady Warriors’ championship point sparking a raucous celebration, the big guy made his way towards the barrier that separated the people at courtside from the players.
Pocari’s setter, Iris Tolenada, named the best playmaker of the Reinforced Conference of the Shakey’s V-League – came over to the big guy, her father, Ingemar who planted a kiss on her cheek and gave her a bear hug.
‘I’ve only missed one game of hers all my life,” later said Ingemar during the team’s championship dinner at Gloria Maris in San Juan. “That was because it was a little too far from where we lived and besides, I knew her team was going to win anyways.”
Did the father know his daughter’s Pocari squad was going to win?
“Well, they were in the driver’s seat. They certainly have a better squad but it ain’t over until it’s all over.”
Tolenada played for Far Eastern University’s men’s volleyball team during the late 1970s. “I played mostly the middle position but I was sometimes moved to the open, sometimes to the opposite position. Back then, you learned every position. Yes, including the setter and the libero position. That as the way it was back then unlike today. But it’s fine, I guess. That’s change for you.”
At the time the father was playing for the Tamaraws, the champion then was the University of the Philippines that featured Mike Verano, the father of current Ateneo Blue Eagle, Raffy Verano.
Back in California, he would watch via The Filipino Channel, the UAAP and V-League games. “I think it’s great. It’s awesome that volleyball has come a long long way. When I was playing, there was hardly anyone watching. Now they are packing arenas. The fans are going crazy. I am happy that my daughter gets to participate and experience this.”
Ingemar moved to the United States not soon after and when he raised a family there, he taught his two eldest sons the game of volleyball. “But they weren’t interested,” laughed the father.
“My daughters though, Ingrid and Iris, they took to the game like a fish out of water,” smiled the visibly pleased father. “They sure know a way to a father’s heart.”
While the entire Tolenada family resides in California, Ingemar does come back once in a while to see relatives and of course, watch Iris play. “She’s now won two Best Setter Awards here in the Philippines, I am a happy man.”
As for Iris’ future, the elder Tolenada says, he’ll support whatever decision his daughter makes. “Right now she’s doing coaching in the States. But whatever she decides, we’ll support her.”
“If she comes back here to play, then it’s a good excuse for us to come back, watch, and visit relatives.”