Alyssa’s pandemic lessons
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - August 7, 2020 - 12:00am

Volleyball phenom Alyssa Valdez was a guest on The Philippine STAR’s sports talk show “Beyond The Game With The Dean” last week and shared some of the lessons she’s learned during this pandemic. Alyssa’s revelations showed how she has matured as a symbol of inspiration to all of us whose lives have been compromised by the COVID-19 crisis.

“It’s so hard to accept the fact that may mga normal na mangyayari sa volleyball but I think, in a positive way, ang natutunan ko ngayon, it’s really to appreciate the little things kasi sobrang sanay kami na binibigay ng Rebisco management from training to everything, lahat very convenient so now I realize dapat pinapahalagaan natin ang mga maliliit na bagay kasi it really matters pagdating sa mga ganitong situation,” said Alyssa, a three-time UAAP women’s indoor volleyball MVP with two Ateneo championships.

Alyssa, 27, said the pandemic is a test for everyone. “In these trying times, dito mo malalaman kung gaano ka resourceful, ano yung pwede mong gawin para mas malabas ang talent mo or yung kailangan ma-improve sa paglalaro ng volleyball, dito rin sya mate-test so we all start from scratch,” she said. “Ako, personally, ‘di talaga ako marunong mag-volleyball but if you’re passionate about it, if you really want to play volleyball, you have to be determined and committed to achieve. It takes a lot of sacrifice, time and effort sa practice or kahit sa maliit na bagay para ma-achieve mo yung goal as volleyball player.”

Alyssa said the game has taught her values she’ll cherish forever. “Volleyball molded me into someone whom I never thought of,” she said. “It taught me how to be respectful, it taught me how to be determined and committed to something that I love or am passionate about. Marami talagang naitutulong ang sports, hindi lang sa loob ng court but you can actually bring it out of the court and apply it to real life. I highly encourage people or kids to do sports.”

When the pandemic struck, Alyssa said she had to adjust to something new in her life. “It was a struggle since it was the first time na naramdaman ko na matagal na walang training but eventually, nagkaroon ako ng motivation to keep on doing workouts twice a day, every day, and I try to do a different sport at the same time para malibang din,” she said. “Of course, I also want to achieve something during this quarantine. I’m trying golf. Kiefer (Ravena) is teaching me how to play basketball. He’s teaching me how to dunk kasi ‘yan daw ginagawa ko sa volleyball, spike lang naman din.”

An experience that Alyssa will never forget was when she was the country’s flag bearer during the opening parade of the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore. “I can vividly remember it,” she said. “Singapore is one of the countries na I really prepare super well for because I also joined the Youth Olympics there (in 2010) so grabe ang ganda at en-grande din ang opening nila. The SEA Games super ganda rin ang opening nila. I got to ride na parang motorcycle inside their facilities kasi sobrang laki nila, just to get to the stadium kung saan kami maglalakad so sobrang warm welcome yung binigay sa amin ng Singapore at di ko makakalimutan yung experience bilang flag bearer ng ating bansa. It was my first-ever SEA Games. I used to enjoy playing in the ASEAN University Games but iba yung SEA Games.”

Alyssa said playing as an import in Thailand and Taiwan was a learning experience. “Sobrang nakakatakot at first kasi hindi mo alam yung madadatnan mo sa country na pupuntahan mo but when I was in Thailand, I trained under coach Tai (Bundit) so hindi ako masyadong nahirapan sa adjustment,” she said. “In Taiwan, it was a different story since iba yung style and system nila. I think overall, it was tough but the experience was worth it kasi I really learned something new about the sport na ina-apply ko pa rin until now so I’m very thankful for all those opportunities.”

If ever there is a merger between the PVL and PSL, Alyssa said it’s something to look forward to. LVPI president Joey Romasanta, however, said a merger may not be entirely feasible because both leagues have different commercial goals but didn’t rule out a Challenge To Champions format where the top teams from the PVL, PSL, UAAP and NCAA could get together for a tournament. “Magkakaroon ng healthy competition kasi iba’t ibang teams na hindi usually magkakalaban will play each other so the volleyball community will benefit,” said Alyssa.

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