Spikers’ Turf Season 2 Best Opposite Spiker Jhayr Labrador is happily counting his blessings.
Among other things, his professional (he now carries the rank of Airman 2nd Class) and sporting careers are going great guns; he has found his soulmate and partner; and by March next year or thereabouts he expects to become a brand-new dad.
Already, the gift of impending fatherhood, says the youngest of five children from Boac, Marinduque, has changed his outlook in life.
“Mas serious ako ngayon sa buhay. Ngayon pa lang mas naiisip ko lalo ang kinabukasan, ang mga dapat kong gawin para sa aking magiging anak,” he said.
A certified homebody at 25, Labrador all the more doesn’t want to leave home when he returns from duty or a game, according to his partner, restaurateur Luchie Lozano.
“Lab doesn’t want us to get out of the house anymore so I can get enough rest for the sake of our baby,” she said. “He’s already talking to our child this early; he’s even asking me not to watch his game anymore.”
Not watching the love of her life trade powerful spikes or rise in the air to make one killer block after another on the court is hard to do for this petite beautiful woman from Angeles City, Pampanga. Since the inaugural staging last year of Spikers’ Turf by Sports Vision in cooperation with official outfitter Accel and official ball Mikasa, Ms. Lozano is the unofficial cheerleader of the bunch of bubbly women who support their men, the Jet Spikers, wherever and whenever they play. Coach Rhovyl Verayo may not appear in one of the games for some reason or other, but not these women.
Also, she’s the unofficial team manager of Air Force, with apology to the official one, Col. Ferdinand Cartojano.
After playing for Marinduque High School, Labrador left for Manila to try out for a spot on the team of Far Eastern University and passed with flying colors. He graduated from the UAAP with one team championship under his belt and from FEU with a degree in Sports Recreation Management. He immediately enlisted with Philippine Air Force so he could help out the family he left behind in Marinduque, which his father was then single-handedly supporting on his income alone as a municipal employee.
With his partner’s blessing he continues to send money regularly to Boac. The six-foot-two Labrador is a versatile player who can switch seamlessly to different positions, from open to utility spiker to middle attacker, and will be just as powerfully effective. He’s also a solid blocker, one that the opposing spikers are extra wary of.
Looking ahead, he wants his future child or children to also experience the joy – and other benefits -- sports has brought into his life.
“My children will get my full support in whatever sport they want to excel in, but I will be gladder if one of them will shine in volleyball.”