FORMER national women’s volleyball standout Evangeline “Vangie” de Jesus, who was considered the country’s premier setter during her prime, passed away last Saturday of a heart attack. She was 68.
A former UE volleyball varsity player and coach, De Jesus was the country’s top setter in the late 70s and early 80s, leading the national team to the gold medal in international play, beginning with the country’s inaugural stint in the 1977 Kuala Lumpur Southeast Asian Games.
She went on to quarterback the Nationals to more mints in the 1979 Jakarta and 1981 Manila editions of the regional games and was a member of the national squad that placed fifth in the six-nation women’s volleyball tournament in the 1982 New Delhi Asian Games.
“Vangie was a role model and an example for a generation of women volleyball players during its earlier heydays. I personally and the local volleyball community mourn her loss.
Her contributions to the sport are irreplaceable,” noted Philippine Olympic Committee first vice president and volleyball chief Joey Romasanta.
“Her (De Jesus’) life was really about volleyball. She virtually dedicated her years as a national player, coach and official to the sport,” said Philippine Super Liga president Dr. Ian Laurel. “I remember her coaching many UAAP women’s volleyball teams to multiple championships.”
Laurel said that what he admired most about the volleyball icon was that even when she was ailing “she refused to accept any dole outs. When she came to the PSL we gave her the role of player development and she would bring crowds to watch our games.”
Laurel said the league plans to give assistance to the grieving family of De Jesus, who also served as secretary general of the defunct Philippine Volleyball Federation.
Tributes by players and coaches poured in on social media, with multi-titled Arellano University tactician Obet Javier and Far Eastern University strategist George Pascua expressing their condolences.
“Rest in peace po, coach Vangie De Jesus,” Javier said on his Facebook account.
“Thank you po sa chance and opportunity na makasama ko po kayo dati sa intercol (Baguio) para maging proxy po ninyo para sa Lady Warriors as coach . . . lalo na noong unang mkita at makasama ko po kayo dati sa power camp,” he added. – With Michael Jugado