San Sebastian star Gretchel Soltones tirelessly strives to excel on the volleyball court to make her father back home in Catmon, Cebu proud.
Soltones, who was raised alone by her father, a part-time businessman and security guard, knows too well how happy her dad Marvin is to see her do well for her school in the NCAA.
Or how proud he was when she suited up for Team Philippines in the Asian Under-23 Women’s Volleyball Championship and the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.
The 20-year-old Soltones is also thankful that her school and coach allow her to play for PLDT Home Ultera in the ongoing Shakey’s V-League Season 12-Reinforced Conference, enabling her to earn she could share with her father back home.
A Business Management senior, Soltones consults her father first in every major undertaking she makes.
“I keep Papa posted on everything happening in my volleyball career,” she said. “His first question is always if my upcoming games will be telecast, so I also supply him with the schedule of all my televised games. If I have one coming up, he’d relay the schedule to our neighbors and relatives and enjoin them to watch me on TV.”
Her dad and their whole neighborhood, Soltones said, did watch the live afternoon telecast of PLDT’s match against University of the Philippines last Oct. 31, when she won the Player of the Game honors after helping the Lady Ultra-Fast Spikers win in four sets, 25-12, 22-25, 25-15, 25-17.
That match, she added, was of particular interest to her townsfolk as it also featured UP rookies and cousins Isabel Molde and Justine Dorog. Like Soltones, the two hail from Catmon and graduated from Catmon Central Elementary School. Molde herself already became back-to-back best player for the Lady Fighting Maroons.
On the eve of All Saints’ Day, Soltones was among three top scorers cited as Player of the Game in the season-ending Reinforced Conference of Shakey’s V-League. The others were Rossan Fajardo, 25, of Philippine Coast Guard, which beat Kia Forte, 12-25, 25-22, 14-25, 25-23, 17-15, and setter Sarah Jane Gonzales of unbeaten Philippine Army, which dispatched Navy, 25-14, 25-17, 25-14, for its third victory.
Since joining the SSC squad at age 16, Soltones has been coming home to Cebu only once a year during the long Christmas holidays. Last Christmas, she said she had bought her papa a lot of gifts consisting of, among others, “branded clothes and T-shirts and perfume.”
The following year when she began playing in commercial leagues, she also started sending money to her father.
“I don’t need much for myself. I’m used to having less in life most especially when I was growing up. What I have in abundance is my father’s love for me,” said Soltones.