With her curly blonde hair and white skin, it is easy to spot Kassie Gormley among the brown-skinned and black-haired volleyball players training at the University of Santo Tomas (UST).
Gormley is an 18-year-old sophomore Literature student, born in Michigan, United Sates, but raised in the Philippines.
Gormley’s start in Philippine volleyball wasn’t easy.
She was denied several times to become a member of the Calvary Christian Academy (CCA) team because of a policy barring foreigners from playing in local leagues.
“I wasn’t allowed to play in high school here in the Philippines. After a year in the States for middle school, I came to Bulacan for my third and fourth year, I still was not allowed to play. That’s why I’m not hoping for a chance to play in college,” she said.
However, Gormley’s coach in CCA helped her to become a member of the Golden Tigresses’ Team B through the help of former assistant coach Vilet Ponce de Leon.
But she found indoor volleyball unfulfilling and eventually pursued beach volleyball where she excelled.
Gormley, with her partner veteran Dzi Gervacio won the Lakawon leg of Beach Volleyball Republic (BVR).
“If I did not switch to beach volleyball, I would have missed a lot of opportunities. It’s just so cool that I started with BVR, now I’m also a commentator. I’m super thankful that I’ve been blessed,” she said.
Gormley’s next goal is to compete in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines beach volleyball games alongside champion Sisi Rondina aiming for back-to-back championship titles.
Besides volleyball, her Christian ministry is Gormley’s other passion.
Gormley is a devout Baptist born of a Filipino Italian father and an American mother. She has four sisters and two adopted younger brothers.
Her father, who is the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Bulacan maintains an orphanage named BahaySibol.
When not busy competing, Gormley helps her father build more BahaySibol cottages.
“Our idea of the orphanage is that we don’t want a big building wherein one room has 15 to 20 kids and their beds are beside one another. For us, it should be a home,” she said.
Recently, they built a second cottage that could house 15 children. Two adults, who will serve as parents were assigned to each cottage, so the children would feel that it is truly their home and that they have a family.
Gormley also takes pride in their church’s Vacation Bible School (VBR).
During summer break, they take children from resettlement areas and bring them to the church for a week of VBR. There, they will study the Scriptures, sing songs and play games. She recalls with fondness her spider and turtle costumes, which she wears to amuse the children.
“Whatever good that happens to me, it’s important to offer and pay it forward to anyone else who needs and deserves it,” Gormley concluded.