Peaks and Valleys

By: Adam Reid

I am not a volleyball wizard, and yet even I know and believe that a group of young athletes will, through continued playing experience, eventually and ideally morph into a cohesive team. But what can happen when we step away from the court and take on new challenges alongside our teammates and coaches? What can we learn about one another – and ourselves? Pandoo Foundation’s Summer Volleyball League, via its Sports and Leadership Program, set out to discover these possibilities atop Sirao Peak.

On the outskirts of Cebu City, the peak’s trails offer an escape from the downtown commotion. There, chaperoned by their coaches and a crew of veteran mountaineers, the league’s four teams hiked separately at their own cadence, exploring and growing as they shuffled along. Of course, the views were captivating. But we didn’t stop there.

Throughout their hillside journey, Pandoo kids participated in several team-building exercises. The culmination of engaging activities with Lisa, Gen and Paolo along the trail led to my station: a written reflection and subsequent talk among peers on the day’s highs and lows. Fittingly labeled “Peaks and Valleys”, this in-depth analysis activity challenged the players to identify some key lessons from the hike – and how we can apply those to life both on and off the volleyball court.

One player shared her initial dislike for the warm weather, but admirably went on to say she eventually – proper hydration included – didn’t let that ruin the rest of her day. “We were just enjoying the moment,” she said, before explaining that we can’t let small problems get in the way of our bigger goals. As someone who then stepped aside and let the kids spearhead discussion, I found this observation quite impressive and am happy to admit that I, too, was reminded of a useful lesson.

Having been in Cebu for a mere two weeks, I can already see the positive, tangible influence the Foundation and its programs have on these kids - Sirao Peak being an early illustration of that. In hindsight I’d dare steal the accurate description shared by another Pandoo volleyball player and brand it as my own. Taken aback by the scenery, excursion and overall experience with her teammates, she echoed popular sentiment: “This day will never be forgotten, and I hope this adventure will be done again soon.”