As the team’s longest tenured player, Frances “Ces” Molina doesn’t mind being a second stringer or occasional cheerleader for the talent-laden Petron Blaze Spikers. While her teammates rack up the points, her silent leadership makes her an integral part of the five-time PSL champions.
How it all started
In 2015, Molina was recruited by then-head coach George Pascua to join the likes of Rachel Anne Daquis, Aby Maraño, and Dindin Santiago-Manabat in Petron. Soon after, the former San Beda Lady Red Spiker blossomed under Pascua’s system and was named 2nd Best Outside Spiker in that year’s All Filipino Conference. However, she attributes the achievement to the motivation given by her seniors.
“Siguro nung time ko with Ate Rachel, Aby and Jen (Reyes), ako kasi yung pinaka youngest among the group and may mga seniors na ready to advice us na mga bata pa and may mga ate kami na pwedeng mag-lift up or mag-encourage at magbigay ng mga motivation especially when it comes to trainings and sa volleyball game.”
The Bell and Niemer impact
From a young player who heeded the advice of her seniors, Molina has been named team captain on different occasions. When asked what’s different from this season to the previous one, Molina believes it their imports that makes them strong this season.
“This Grand Prix, ang nagpapa-highlight talaga dito is yung mga imports. In my opinion, we have the best import tandem of imports in the four years that I’ve been with Petron. Balance silang dalawa together. Si (Stephanie) Niemer, tahimik and medyo serious and si Bell very vocal, makulit, and jolly.”
She has nothing but positive words for her fellow local players as well.
“As for our locals, ngayon kasi with (Bernadeth) Pons, Mika (Reyes), and Denden (Lazaro) halos magkaka-edad lang kami kaya nagiging madali magkaintindihan and mas madali magcommunicate. As a former team captain, mas madalas ko sila nakakausap and mas ako yung dapat magbigay ng mga motivations katulad ng mga ginagawa ng mga ate namin before. Ako na yung gumagawa nun for the younger batch ngayon sa Petron.”
Leadership goes beyond the title
It’s easier for fulfill the leadership role given to her by Petron head coach Shaq Delos Santos because they have been together as a team for a while and winning titles keeps them focused to get more.
“As a former team captain and isa sa pinaka matagal na sa team, halos lahat ng locals kilala ko na sila inside and outside the court. I must know them para mas maintindihan ko sila. Siyempre mga babae kami and may mga mood swings din kami so kailangan ko maintindihan sila isa’t isa at kung saan sila nanggagaling.”
When asked to describe the nature of her leadership role, Molina responded “Yun leadership role ko is more of reminding everybody sa team mapa-training man or mapa-game man namin. And what’s good sa team namin is we never leave anyone behind. So nasa core talaga ng team yan kaya mas pinapatibay namin yung samahan namin para mas maganda yung kalabasan sa game.”
It doesn’t mean though that only the seasoned players can become Petron’s leader. “Siyempre binuo namin yung team na open and comfortable sa isa’t isa para kung sino man yung nangangailangan, matulungan namin. Being a leader naman hindi lang sa title kasi anyone sa team pwede maging leader mapa-bata man or pinakamatanda” Molina added.
More than the championships she has won with the franchise, the Nueva Ecija native values the loyalty showed to her by the Blaze Spikers’ management. Showing that same devotion to her mentors and fellow players in achieving a common cause could be her most significant contribution in Petron’s rise as a dynasty.