Olympia senior Daniel Tiongco, a cancer survivor, ended his water polo career for the Titans on a high note.
Olympia senior Daniel Tiongco ended his water polo career with the Titans in the best possible way, scoring the final goal of the final game of the regular season — a 17-4 win for Olympia (23-2) over Lake Brantley. Daniel, who has scored six goals in his career with the Titans and is praised by head coach Stephanie Johnson-Possell as a hard worker who always puts the team first, was diagnosed with brain cancer at age 3 and overcame a rare neuroectodermal tumor. His experience with cancer, his recovery, and the kindness of those who helped him through, has inspired him to pursue social work after he graduates from Olympia.
How exciting was it to score the final goal in your final game as a Titan?
It was very exciting, and I was very glad to finish the season with something to say, “I finished the last game of the season.”
Which moments from your high-school career have been the most memorable?
My first swim meet (as a freshman). I’m not sure who it was against, but it was at the Roper YMCA. For it being my first swim meet, it was nerve-wracking. … My favorite water polo memory is scoring my first goal (as a freshman).
Is there an alumni of the program who was a role-model for you?
I’d say my top-two role models are my brothers; they were actually on the water polo team. One is in college, and the other is studying for his doctorate. Matthew Tiongco and Jonathan Tiongco.
How has your experience as a cancer survivor affected your appreciation of being able to play sports?
I appreciate it because at age 3, my doctors said my chances of living were low. To be able to be a senior and play water polo, to be on the swim team for four years, I’m very lucky — I’m lucky to be alive.
Who has been your favorite teacher while at Olympia?
My biology teacher, her name is Kristy Connor. She was one of the teachers I could go to. It was her and coach Stephanie Johnson-Possell that I could go to if I had any issues.
We understand you want to go into social work as a career. What sparked that interest?
When I was in St. Jude hospital, I was in the room and I was approached by their hospital social worker, and she gave me hope and a sense of light — that I’m almost done with the fight. … Ever since then, I’ve wanted to become a social worker. I want to pass it on, and I want others to have that hope that I was given.
How important has the support of your family been over the years?
(It) has been really important. Through my radiation and chemotherapy, my appearance was impeded due to my treatment. I dealt with bullying and my motor skills and my thinking skills for school weren’t like a regular person. My family has been there for me, and if I had issues, they would help me cope with it. It’s been really good having them by my side.