FROM facing a freak accident to taking a hiatus from his blossoming basketball career to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, former UST Tiger Cubs team captain Vaughn Soriano hopes to regain what he had two years ago.
Abandoning his normal life to live in the tranquil environment of Lahug, Cebu was a tough pill to swallow for Soriano. But he always knew in his heart that it was the right thing to do.
He was obliged to serve as a missionary for two years as soon as he reached the age of 18.
“[We] invite others to come to Christ,” Soriano told the Varsitarian. “We encounter various kinds of people every minute and talk to them about Him.”
Before leaving the Tigers’ lair in July 2014, the 6-foot-3 forward was already in the sights of then-outgoing coach Pido Jarencio and incoming head coach Bong dela Cruz as an addition to the squad that was fresh off a UAAP finals appearance a season before.
The coaches determined that his size and length could help the veteran-laden squad of Aljon Mariano, Kevin Ferrer, Ed Daquioag and Karim Abdul in a possible return to the Final Four.
However, Soriano felt that he should attend to his duty to God first, especially that the Entrepreneurship student endured a major setback in his life that pulled him closer to the Almighty.
In December 2013, Soriano and his family were on their way to Subic to celebrate the New Year when tragedy struck. As Soriano maneuvered his Ford SUV along the highway, two drunk motorcycle riders veered into his lane and smashed the windshield of his car.
The two immediately died on impact, and Soriano, despite knowing he did not do anything wrong to accidentally kill the tandem, was detained at the police station for investigation.
“I was detained for five hours, which I felt were the longest five hours of my life. During that time, my worst fears had come true, as if all of them struck me at once. I felt then that I had to reach out to God,” Soriano added.
After fulfilling his obligation in Cebu, he only rested for a week before returning to the Tigers and was welcomed back by current head coach Boy Sablan.
“Luckily I was welcomed back as a member of the Team B. When there is a game, we would also not practice. There I would work harder, lifting weights and running the extra mile alone inside the court. I looked like a fool but I didn’t care.”
Soriano said he does not regret his decision in temporarily leaving his dreams in order to serve a greater purpose.
“It is more fulfilling now. I served God and I am more mature today. I now have the right mindset. Like, I do not think of my personal accomplishments, I want to give UST a championship.”