Dani Ravena has been crowded by criticism throughout her young volleyball career, but the Nxled Chameleons’ team captain couldn’t care less about what other people think.
Along the way, Ravena learned how to tune out the noise and brave through the challenges that she faces ahead.
Ravena started thinking about turning pro before the start of her last playing year with the Lady Eagles.
“During my last playing year in Ateneo, I was contemplating whether or not I will still play or go to the pros. I only had 1 class left and I also felt that it was time for me to move forward,” revealed Ravena.
However, the process wasn’t easy. Before taking the next step, she knew he had to be at her best. She knew she had to be prepared.
“It was a tough decision for me because I know expectations were high and I wanted to make sure that I would do everything that I can to show that I deserve to be in the pros,” the youngest Ravena added.
And part of being ready was managing her time as a senior in Ateneo and a professional volleyball player back then when she was with the Akari Chargers.
“My education for me was my top priority. Beyond anything, I always made sure that studies will come first because I was fortunate enough to be able to study for free because of my volleyball scholarship. Playing in the pros only became an option when I only had 1 subject left in Ateneo and made sure to myself that I was going to balance both academics and volleyball well.”
There were struggles, though. Just like the most of us, Ravena had a fair share of mismanaging her time, and that was something she doesn’t want us to emulate, especially for student-athletes.
“I was always an independent learner so I was able to study and catch up with my lessons after training, but the biggest problem for me was proper time-management. I would always think that I had enough time to study but my “naps” would always take too long or extend after volleyball. Instead of working ahead of time, I would always choose to work on it the day before and be stressed. I don’t know why but I guess I work better under pressure, even in school. I would not recommend this mindset,” admitted the 5-foot-6 libero.
Another part of the struggle was making sacrifices on her personal life to pursue her dreams. Fortunately, Ravena was surrounded with the right people that supported her in her journey.
“During college, I was not able to hang out with my friends as much as I wanted to. Given that we had different schedules in school, I also had training and other team responsibilities. I have no regrets because my real friends completely understood this and still supported me.”
Hence, for collegiate players like her, the former Lady Eagles skipper left these advice: 1) Set your priorities and goals straight; and 2) put education above else so you have options when you decide to choose a path away from sports.
“My biggest advice is to make sure that your priorities are laid down and are clear to yourself. It’s easier to stay motivated when you have a goal. There will be days where we will feel like giving up, but remembering our goal will make us hold on and work harder. We are students before we are athletes. Education is something no one can take away from us. It opens doors, knowledge and career-wise, for all. In terms of its role in the life of a professional athlete, education provides avenues for individuals to pursue passions apart from their athletic career.”
*Coach Oliver Almadro and Ateneo’s impact*
Looking back at her time with Ateneo, Ravena talked about the values she learned from the school and her then-coach Oliver Almadro which she carries with her now in the pro scene.
“I think the whole “walang duwag na Ravena” made the biggest impact because this statement by Coach O made me more confident in myself. Sometimes, I can overcomplicate things and think about unnecessary situations or what other people will say. That statement alone is so simple but puts my mind into proper perspective,” said Ravena of Coach O’s reminder to her back in 2018.
"Ravena ka. Walang duwag na Ravena."
— ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) September 23, 2018
Moreover, she also ‘learned to embrace everybody’ in Ateneo which helped her adapt in the PVL.
“We will always encounter people with different values, different beliefs, different perspectives, but being able to work well with them is something I learned to do in Ateneo. In all kinds of work, respecting all employees and workmates is important. Different strokes for different folks. This is a key life skill I make sure to remember.”
With the Atenean blood running through Ravena’s veins, she has developed into a fearless leader and dependable libero for Nxled. So to the ones who are doubted and criticized, Dani wants you to believe in yourself, shrug off the distractions, and head on.
“I honestly just want to inspire the younger generation that they can do it. You alone should be your biggest motivator.”