She left it all behind —a normal college life, her teammates, a skyrocketing volleyball career that would have gave her a crack at the national. All to become one of the Jehovah’s witnesses.
Cebuana volleybelle Frances Karen Derder had everything going her way as she made it into the lineup of perennial UAAP champions Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Lady Eagles in 2014. But her stint with the Lady Eagles was cut short since, according to her, Ateneo coach Tai Bundit did not allow her to continue her religious service, a move which left some of the Lady Eagles faithfuls clueless to this day.
“I transferred to Ateneo but I went back to Cebu in the second semester because Coach Tai was strict. He did not allow me to attend our meeting or worship. They all say the reason I went home was because I was homesick, but it is not,” she said.
The 19-year-old Derder returned to Cebu and went on to help the Southwestern University (SWU) Cobras win the 2015 Cesafi title while being recognized as the league’s best server.
But little did anyone know that title-clinching game two years ago against the University of San Jose-Recoletos was going to be her last stint in the sport that she really loved.
Although there are days wherein she’d like to play volleyball, the Minglanilla, Cebu-native has learned in the past few years that she can’t serve two masters at a time, quoting the renowned scripture from the bible known as the Matthew 6:24 which reads: “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else, he will hold to the one, and despise the other.”
“To tell you honestly, I was really sad when I stopped playing because volleyball was my passion since elementary but when I learned the truth, I sacrificed my own interest to have a good relationship with Jehovah.”
Regardless of the fact that her love for the sport is still in her heart, Derder said she has closed the doors on a return to volleyball, saying she has already found true happiness by preaching the word of God.
Derder may have lost her chance on volleyball fame and glory. But in exchange, she received even more, something that people spend their whole life finding: the meaning of true happiness.
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