Taking the reins: Rod Roque making a difference in UE Volleyball
MANILA, Philippines – Two wins in 3 games. University of the East (UE) volleyball interim head coach and UE board member Rod Roque has already matched the win record of former coach Francis Vicente, who managed the Lady Warriors for 3 and a half seasons.
Roque assumed the head coach post last February 22 in preparation for the Lady Warriors' match against the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws. Although it ended up with a loss for UE, the Lady Warriors were able to prevent a sweep by pushing it to a 4th set.
Moving on to his next two games, the Roque-led squad took down 5th seeded Adamson Lady Falcons and the University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses. The back-to-back wins made history as this feat was last achieved by the Lady Warriors in Season 74 over the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons.
Although many have called this "a miracle", this is not the first time Roque had performed his magic based on his career as a Red Warrior.
'Pure UE, red-blooded warrior'
Roque has been an active member of the UE community ever since he was in high school, especially in the field of sports.
"UE! University of the East! Loyal ako! Pure UE, red-blooded Warrior ako eh," exclaimed Roque when asked about his education.
In high school until college, Roque was a member of the gymnastics national team, having represented the Philippines in Colorado, USA. After graduating with a bachelor's degree in Physical Education (PE) in 1992, Roque juggled taking up his masters degree in UE, teaching PE in UE and helping out with the gymnastics national team.
But at one point, Roque grew tired of gymnastics and started to move on to another sport. As he stumbled upon volleyball by chance, he never knew that this sport would eventually lead him to more successes in UE.
"Nakakatawa nga eh. (It's funny) I’ve never played volleyball in my life! Never!" said Roque when asked about his background in volleyball.
In 1995, Roque discovered intramurals volleyball in UE high school where he first set up a team and won the games. Thus, Roque's magic was born.
The magic begins
UE director Brent Perez immediately noticed Roque's coaching talents as the intramurals team also started winning invitational competitions.
In 1996, Perez proposed that UE should finally join the UAAP Jrs competition in volleyball with Roque as the head coach.
"So nagpropose siya na isama na yung UAAP jrs volleyball. Ayun. Since 1996 nagstart yung UAAP Jrs. volleyball [sa UE]," recalled Roque.
(So he proposed that UE should join the UAAP Jrs volleyball. There. UE Jrs volleyball started in 1996.)
With Roque at the helm of the UE volleyball program, the Junior Warrriors immediately made it to the Final 4 on its first year in Season 58. Since then, the UE Junior Warriors have been a constant fixture in the playoffs as they have appeared in the Final 4 for 22 straight years.
Within those years, Roque won his first championship with the high school boys in Season 63 and led the team to 10 more championships under his belt, including an 8-peat reign. The Junior Warriors now hold a total of 14 championship titles – the most in UAAP Jrs volleyball history.
"Nagstart ako magchampion simula 2000 hanggang 8 years ago (2010), nag-8 peat ako. 8-peat UAAP champion ng boys division," said Roque.
(I started to lead them to become champions starting in 2000 until 8 years ago, I got 8-peat. 8-peat UAAP champions in the boys division.)
Aside from UE volleyball, Roque also handled the Palarong Pambansa National Capital Region (NCR) boys team and was able to bring home 5 titles in his 10 years of coaching.
After Season 74, Roque retired from coaching as he was promoted to assistant director of the UE sports program. Things started getting busier for Roque as he was further promoted to director in two years.
Despite pioneering UE's successful volleyball program in the boys division, Roque was never given a chance to lead the seniors program. It was only in the tailend of February 2018 that the volleyball maestro was tasked to salvage the senior volleyball teams from being the cellar-dwellers of the UAAP volleyball.
Roque still plans on being on the lookout for long-term successors in order to continue fulfilling his duties as a UE board member. However, he promises that he will stick with the teams until the end of Season 80.
With 11 Juniors volleyball championships and 5 Palarong Pambansa titles on his coaching record, can Rod Roque lift Red Warriors and Lady Warriors from the bottom this Season 80? – Rappler.com