Photo by Luisa Morales

Text by Luisa Morales

The Lady Maroons are off to a new direction.

The University of the Philippines Women’s Volleyball Team (UP WVT) has found a new head coach in Kenyan mentor Godfrey Okumu following Jerry Yee’s sudden exit last September after a four year-stint with the team.

The new Diliman trainer comes with an impressive resume, holding coaching certificates for International Olympic Coaching, Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) Level 3 and Japan Sports.

Okumu first met the UP WVT back in June 2016 in one of their training camps and has been a constant presence ever since. For the Japan-based coach, there was little need for adjustment coming into the position.

“They’re not like strangers to me. We basically know each other well… [there’s] a lot of good chemistry between me and the players,” Okumu said in an interview.

Since arriving in the Philippines last Nov. 21, Okumu has started training with the team on a daily basis. Providing a brand new program, the Kenyan mentor hopes to improve the team’s speed, power and accuracy.

Despite transitioning to a new head coach and training regimens, the Lady Maroons look to these changes with an optimistic attitude.

“It’s exciting… a different feeling, it’s a different kind of volleyball,” UP WVT skipper Ayel Estrañero said.

Training is hard, it’s difficult especially we’re getting used to a different kind of program but then hopefully the sacrifices, the hard work will pay off,” she added.

Coach Okumu comes into the picture with only a couple of months left before the UAAP season starts for the Diliman squad, and the team has only one goal in mind — to win as many games as they can.

Before Okumu, Jerry Yee had brought the team into the final four in Season 78 and slowly improved their skills during his stay in Diliman. The Kenyan mentor hopes to build on this and further move up the rankings.

“The only promise I can make is I will try to make sure that we reach 25 before the other teams,” Okumu declared.


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