Philippine volleyball

How volleyball’s Pia Gaiser proves to be a winner in med school

How volleyball’s Pia Gaiser proves to be a winner in med school

Photo courtesy of Tobi W. Dave

Former UP Lady Maroon and Petron Blaze Spikers champion Pia Gaiser chases her dream of becoming a doctor

In 2017, Pia Gaiser decided it’s time to hang up her jersey and put on a lab coat in hopes of being an orthopedic surgeon in the future.

She knew she always wanted to be a doctor but what fueled her decision more came when she suffered an ACL injury during her fifth and final year of her collegiate career with the UP Fighting Maroons.

“Actually, noong dinala ako sa operating room, isa ‘yun sa best moments of my life,” she shared. “Sobrang tuwa ko nung nakita ko yung room, nag-light up yung face ko. I really want to be a doctor nung nakita ko.”

(Actually, when I went to the operating room, I considered that to be one of the best moments of my life. I am so happy when I saw the room, my face lit up. That’s when I told myself that I really wanted to be a doctor.)

As she chases her dream outside sports, Gaiser tells Rappler how she still gets to apply what she learned in volleyball.

Remember why you started

In medical school, I keep on remembering why I wanted to be a doctor. It takes a lot of time and you will have breakdowns and you need to have a good reason why you want to be a doctor. That is the thing I got from sports, rooting yourself on remembering why you started.

In my case, when I was still playing volleyball, there were really slumps. There are a lot of times where I lost confidence in myself and I kept on reminding myself why I play volleyball, why I started this, why am I doing this — that kept me going.

You have to have a firm reason, a firm foundation on why. Kahit mahirap. (Even if it’s hard.)

Bounce back from adversity

In my last playing year in UP, I had an ACL injury. The manager in the dugout told me that it is done, it is a sign that I will be a good doctor and it is time for me to focus on my studies. So I thought to myself, 9 years old ako naglaro, hindi ito ang inaasahan kong ending.

(I started playing volleyball when I was 9 years old, this is not the ending I expected.)

I took a rest, I went to rehab, I want to pass my tests because I wanted to be better. I reminded myself that I am bigger than my fears and this is just a small stop to something even more amazing.

I waited two years before a team offered me to play again for them and before I ended my career to go to med school, I became part of Petron Blaze Spikers in the 2018 PSL Grand Prix and All-Filipino where in both conferences, we were hailed as champions.
Change of perspective

Medical school is where playing volleyball brought me. There are physical and bigger mental factors here. Because I have experienced being down and rising up above it, I learned that if I could do that before then I could do that now.

Think about your strength as a person na kaya mo at kakayanin mo kasi nakaya mo na before. (You can and you will manage because you have done it before.) It’s always up to you to change your perspective to make the negative things into something positive.

Opportunities don’t last

Your life is different when you go to med school, we are not normal people, we have different schedules, we have different companions, we study all the time so we don’t have time, and we are always tired.

I have learned in volleyball to not take everything for granted. That every time there are opportunities given to you, you really have to do your best because no one knows when is your last that is why before entering med school, I traveled a lot, I partied a lot, I made the most out of my playing years, things I didn’t get to do when I am still an athlete because we sacrificed a lot.

Do everything while you still can. Don’t have any regrets. Because being an athlete and going to medical school is a whole different conversation.

The art of giving back

I started playing when I was 9 years old and I retired at 23. It’s so hard to accept and let go of volleyball in my life because you built your identity with it then you’re leaving it. But I am now going into a new journey for the future of the athletes.

Just because I’m not playing anymore doesn’t mean I no longer love it. There is just a part in me who really knows that it’s time to move on.

I will be back in the sports industry but I am not the one playing anymore. I will be there but I won’t be the one you watch anymore. I’ll just be there to support the volleyball community and to help the athletes that is why I am working hard to be a doctor. To give back for that 15 wonderful years of volleyball. – Vince Roque/