Shannen Palec: Leading with perseverance and humility

Shannen Palec, the new team captain of the UST Golden Tigresses. Photo by Kristella Danielle Boo/ THE FLAME 

GUSHES OF the fresh wind from her hometown slowly faded as she moved to a new city to test her luck. The volleyball player from Passi, Iloilo casts a smile on her face as she shares her greatest motivation to play in Manila—making her province proud.

Kung hindi dahil sa volleyball, hindi ako makakalaro dito, hindi ako [makakakuha ng] scholarship, hindi ako [makakarating] sa Manila, hindi ako makakatulong sa province, [and I wouldn’t get to] inspire others,” she says as her eyes sparkle with passion and determination.

Taking advantage of her God-given height, Shannen Palec has been striking and acing volleyball since her first year in high school.

As a girl who grew up in the province, she shares the struggles she experienced while adjusting in Manila. One of them is juggling her studies with the sport she loves.

She began playing for the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Golden Tigresses in her third year in college and has been a part of the team ever since.

Now, she enters the court as the team captain, aiming to lead them to victory.

New girl in town

With her family as her number one supporter, Shannen moved with them to Manila to pursue her studies in UST.

The Sociology alumna narrates how the entire Palec clan supports her through social media. Every time she plays in the court, she sees how her family and relatives blow up her inbox to ask for updates. “[Kapag] may laro [at] nanonood silang buong family, [may] malaking effect ‘yun para magpursige pa [ako] sa volleyball.”

Entering a new environment in the UST High School, her first few days away from her hometown was a fresh start.

Nahirapan ako [noong] third year high school [nang] mag-transfer dito. Lahat ng mga kaklase [ko] magkakakilala na, ako lang ‘yung hindi. Buti na lang, may transferee din na dalawa,” she shares.

Aside from that, because she grew up speaking in Ilonggo, she had a hard time in communicating what she means to say. “Noong una talaga, nagko-construct pa ako sa utak ko [kung ano ‘yung] sasabihin ko kaya nahirapan ako. Kahit ngayon, medyo nagsa-stutter pa rin ako.”

Essence of service

Volleyball changed her life immensely. It affected her daily habits and the way she faces the challenges that crosses her path.

Sa volleyball, kailangan maging matatag ka. Huwag kang bibitiw; huwag kang bibigay. So parang doon naki-create ‘yung self-motivation ko, ‘yung determination towards sa pagkamit ng isang goal sa life,” she says.

When she started playing for UST, a different kind of feeling surfaced. Volleyball opened doors for the Tigress.

“Kasi noon, hindi ko talaga alam ‘yung UAAP sa province. May pinapalabas sa TV so pride sa akin na nakalaro ako for the first time sa UAAP na bitbit [ko] ang pangalan ng UST,” Shannen shares as she recounts her journey as a player for the University.

Being a dedicated and passionate player, Shannen was really affected when she got injured at the peak of her volleyball career and had to stop for a year. She had torn her knee’s anterior cruciate ligament during her third year in college, which hindered her to play for an entire season.

“While training before [the] Shakey’s [Premier Volleyball League], [it was the] pre-season league, […] na-down kasi ako noon kasi ‘di ba kapag na-injure ka, one year kang makaka-miss [ng laro?] [P]arang natanggal [na] sa’yo ‘yung lifestyle mo,” she explains.

Despite her absence on the hardcourt, she remained positive and used her break to focus on her studies, even making it to the dean’s list.

She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Developmental Studies at the UST Graduate School, coping up with her remaining playing years lost during her recovery period.

Head of the team

Her four years under the Sociology program of the Faculty of Arts and Letters led her to Peter Berger’s idea that “things are not what they seem.” With that in mind, Shannen leads her team grounded on understanding and free of judgements. “[K]asi ang tao hindi [gagawa] kung walang rason. Kaya ako, hinahanapan ko muna ng rason para masolusyonan ang problema.”

Shannen has her own goal for the team—to win. However, should they lose, it must be with a good fight.

Despite losing against the De La Salle Lady Spikers last year, the Tigresses maintain a positive disposition with Shannen bringing out the best version of them and making them realize their potential.

Yet, behind the ferocity of a Tigress hides a persona of a modest team captain who plans to lead the pact with determination and support. “Hindi kasi ako sanay sa team captain, team captain na ‘yan. “Para sa akin label lang ‘yan, para sa akin, ang goal ko lang [ay ang] pagiging senior. Mag-lead sa kanila bilang senior [at] manalo.”

“Expect na nila [ang] mas determinadong Palec ngayon, mas may mako-contribute sa team,” Shannen says. “Also, expect na ‘yung UST [ay] magiging malakas pa rin.F

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