Guam’s Men’s National Indoor Volleyball Team is putting in final preparations as the young 14-player squad prepares for the 9th Micronesian Games in Yap. Team Guam is loaded with fresh talent and looks to make their mark on the Games which take place July 15-27.
The Games consist of six to seven participating nations, many having set up development programs and tapped off-island coaches in order to be competitive. The region’s commitment is a good indicator to the growing sport.
“First one I went to in 2010, there were only three teams that played,” said co-captain Derrick Wahl. These Games will be his third. “We have to come out swinging from the first game (and not) take anyone lightly.”
With a quest for their fifth straight Micro Games gold, Team Guam is a blend of young players moving up from the 19U team and veterans lending leadership experience. Returning from the 2014 gold medal team are: Robert Borden, Wahl and Tristan Tapia.
“It’s a brotherhood and this is pretty much the cream of the crop of what Guam volleyball has to offer,” Tapia said. “It is an honor to wear Guam across your chest.”
The key to climbing to the top of the podium said Tapia, is “keeping the hunger consistent. Because once you give them an opening, anyone can have a shot. Volleyball is all momentum, anyways.”
Back on summer break from colleges in the mainland and eager to participate on the men’s team are Gary Aromin and Aiden Ferrara. The duo attend Erskine College in South Carolina, an NCAA Division II program.
Masaki Cramer joins the team after finishing his second year at Santa Barbara City College in California.
Devin Maluwelmeng and Eric Ada played collegiately at top-ranked NAIA Grand View University in Iowa.
“Coming back playing for Guam, there is no better way to start off my career here again,” Aromin said.
“This is all of our first Micro Games, but I think our out-of-state competition helps since we are used to playing against taller players, and the game speed is a lot quicker,” Ferrara said.
“I am definitely thankful the Federation lets us be a part of this program, even though we aren’t here the majority of the year training with them,” Cramer said.
Mike Rabago, Guam’s head coach, isn’t worried about the experience or talent of his team, but keeping the team healthy. “I believe the key to winning this is being healthy and injury-free as we head into the Games,” he said.
“I’m just waiting for them to get there and feel the vibe from the crowd by carrying the Olympic Rings, and (wearing the) Guam seal on their chest,” Rabago said.
Players: Robert Borden, Derrick Wahl, Tristan Tapia, Aiden Ferrara, Masaki Cramer, Leandro Reoligio, John Paul Taimanglo, Brendan Padayo, Devin Maluwelmeng, Greg Esplana, Eric Ada, Luis Mesgnon, Devin San Agustin.
Coaches: Mike Rabago head coach, Steve Pangelinan and Joe Quitugua.