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Alumni in the Spotlight: Mac Gepuela (GS 1970, HS 1974)

Coach Mac has spent thirty-seven years coaching MC's volleyball varsity teams. An athlete herself, Coach Mac believes in the special power of sports to develop one’s character and social skills by building a strong sense of camaraderie within a team. This professional volleyball coach remains committed to empower the youth through sports.

 

Briefly describe your areas of expertise or advocacies. How long have you been doing these?

After graduating from UP Diliman with a degree in Psychology, I worked in Human Resources, specifically in Personnel and then moved on to Training.   After several years doing corporate work, I decided to go into full time coaching with my alma mater in 1987, after having watched the then MCHS Volleyball Team compete in St Benilde’s Gym.  A few years later, the grade school team was handed to me, then the MC Faculty team that participated in Inter-School tournaments also.  By the year 2000, I was asked to coach the College team.  At that time, I was handling all three levels of our school, including the Faculty team.  Outside of MC, I have also handled several corporate teams.  Today, I still coach the MC Middle School Team. I have been coaching volleyball for 37 years now. 

I have also enjoyed being courtside announcer for national leagues like the UAAP and the Premier Volleyball League (formerly known as Shakey’s V-League) and the Spikers’ Turf (Men’s Division).  I’ve been doing this for more than 10 years now.

 

Among your interests, which one has been your driving force?

My passion is youth development through sports.  My love for the game of Volleyball as an athlete and then as a professional Coach drove me to use this as a vehicle to develop character in our young athletes.

 

To what would you attribute your achievement/s?

My husband’s long-time participation in our national volleyball association (then called PAVA, Philippine Amateur Volleyball Association) opened doors for me and broadened my horizon to different aspects of the game – not just as an athlete or coach, but as administrator and tournament/event organizer (both National and International).  My passion for the game, my previous experience as an athlete, the support from my husband and family, the MC Admin and community, the enthusiasm of our girls and their families as well as their innate desire for success all contributed to our winning attitude.

 

In what ways did your Maryknoll/Miriam education impact your life and profession? 

I was always a proud graduate of Maryknoll College.  It was, and still is, a beautiful campus, with wide open spaces, a lot of trees and grassy areas, not to mention the facilities.  More than these, having spent my formative years there (elementary through high school), mentored by the Maryknoll nuns, the school helped develop my command of the English language, my inquisitive mind, my social skills, my religious beliefs and the values of discipline, integrity, and the courage to speak my mind.  Extra-curricular activities broadened my horizon and I found myself exposed to the “other side”, doing community work and social action activities.  It was in high school when I joined both the Glee Club under internationally renowned tenor, Noel Velasco and the Varsity Volleyball Team under my coach, Levi Encinas, from the champion Ateneo volleyball varsity team.  Both activities taught me that with focus, hard work and determination, one can achieve.  We won several awards in the Glee Club, even performing in the Cultural Center of the Philippines for a competition.  In my senior year, our Volleyball Team won the Girls’ Athletic League Championship, then known as the GAL Games, with our schoolmates cheering for us in the gallery of St. Benilde Gym in La Salle, Greenhills.  Those were proud moments, and to this day I try to help my athletes relive the same moment, with the same thrilling emotions that only competition can bring.

 

Can you share a memorable experience during your years in Maryknoll/Miriam College?

I have several fond memories growing up in MC - the kalachuchi trees by the creek, the grade school chapel where we had regular masses wearing our “beanie caps” or gala uniforms, the aroma of freshly baked cookies coming from the cafeteria made by the Maryknoll sisters every Saturday morning.  My fondest memories though were my experiences with my volleyball teammates in high school. Training regularly together, three times a week, going to matches together in different venues every weekend, and of course, the occasional social gatherings for birthdays and championship celebrations made my high school years very memorable.  Growing up with five brothers, I appreciated the bonding created by the sisterhood of being in a team of girls. We went through life’s ups and downs together, victories and defeats, new loves and loves lost and growing pains.  To this very day, almost 50 years after high school, we still see each other, watch out for each other, and share fond memories of our time in MC.   Apart from instilling a sense of school pride in my athletes, I also try to encourage the same sense of sisterhood with my athletes and am glad to see that quite a lot of them do stay in touch with each other, and with me, even years after school.  In fact, before the pandemic, we would meet monthly in the high school courts just to play volleyball against each other - different batches! 

 

What career or life accomplishment makes you most proud?

There is a satisfaction and pride in having had a hand in developing young women who are driven to succeed while retaining their core values of truthfulness, integrity and love of family and friends.

 

What advice would you give our students who wish to pursue the same path?

Coaching volleyball, the way we do, cannot really be called a “career” if one is to expect rewarding monetary compensation as is done in the corporate world.  It is a calling, much like teaching.  Rewards come in non-tangible ways.  Seeing a young athlete develop from a shy, withdrawn weakling to a confident, competitive, and physically strong achiever is my reward.  Having a parent come to me, thanking me for the discipline and improved social skills her child has developed, is my reward.  The long-standing relationships we have developed among each other, both with the athlete and her parents, even beyond their school age, is my reward.  We have become godparents to some of our athletes who are now married, and even to some of their children.  We are still invited to Christmas parties of parents who reunite annually, just to relive the fun and friendship.  When my athletes come to me at the end of a tournament, beaming with pride, with a medal around their neck (or a trophy for Most Valuable Player), saying, “Thank you, Coach!”, THAT, is my reward.  When a former athlete, now in her 40s, and a success in her own right, tells me she attributes her success to many of the lessons she has learned from me when I coached her back in school, THAT, is my reward.

 

In one sentence, how would you describe a Maryknoll/Miriam graduate?

A Maryknoll/Miriam graduate is outspoken, very sociable and intelligent, with an innate desire to help her fellowman.

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