Ateneo Volleyball Stars Go Down the Hill
The Ateneo Lady Eagles and Ateneo Blue Eagles headed to the Church of Gesu straight from the hard court to give thanks and hear mass for their successful UAAP runs. During the homily, university president Fr Jett Villarin SJ expressed his gratitude to the people who took on the challenges of becoming a student-athlete. After the mass, the graduating players of the men’s and women’s team, Dan Posadas, Ysay Marasigan, Mae Tajima, Amy Ahomiro and Alyssa Valdez, spoke in front of the audience to share their message with everyone.
The Men’s players started it off with Posadas. He shared how the Ateneo was able to help him grow as a person and find himself. He talked about the opportunities he gained for being an Atenean student-athlete. Lastly, he emphasized his team’s mantra, faith, trust and courage, and showed his gratitude towards the people who supported him and his team along the way. “I would like to thank everyone for having faith in us, trusting us and courageously cheering for us.”
Next up, was Ysay Marasigan. This year’s Finals MVP started of by sharing his experience in his first 2 playing years in the UAAP. He said that for them that time, UAAP was just a “battle for 7th,” and that no one watched them play. Slowly, with the arrival of coach Oliver Almadro, things changed. A new training program was followed and Ysay was assigned to become the team captain. At first, the utility spiker was hesitant in accepting this role, but with the help of the people around him, he eventually got comfortable with this vital job and led his teammates to a back-to-back championship. At the end of his speech the Eagles’ team captain thanked his teammates and told them to never get tired of training hard.
Mae Tajima was the next to take the stage. Mae mentioned how overwhelmed she was because she was not used to speaking in front of an audience. She had a hard time speaking because she was also laughing and crying. In her emotional speech the middle blocker said it was an honor to have been part of the Ateneo community for roughly 15 years, 10 years in Davao and 5 in Manila. She then thanked all the people who were with her as she embarked on her journey. Finally, she thanked her teammates for the unforgettable experience playing in the UAAP.
Amy Ahomiro then spoke to the audience. The graduating middle blocker began by saying “Thank you for making this (Ateneo) my home.” She then reflected on what she calls the best 6 years of her life because of her experience studying and playing for Ateneo. She later expressed her appreciation for her teammates, coaches and the school for taking care of her and being with her through this journey. “I wouldn't change anything, except probably the last game,” Ahomiro jokingly said, adding “to my teammates and coaches we are all champions.”
The last one to express her thoughts was an emotional Alyssa Valdez. The season’s MVP first apologized for losing the championship, and revealed how much she hated losing. Although, this somehow changed for her when she felt the support of the people after their game, “personally, I hate losing, but nag-change yung fact why I hate losing. I hate losing kasi I feel no one will love me, I feel like no one’s there after we lose, but I'm really happy everyone's here.”
Later, she recalled her early years before entering Ateneo. She admitted that she was very reluctant at first because she did not know anything except for volleyball and a little bit of studying, but with the support from her teammates and coaches and the love for the game, she chose to conquer her fears of being an Atenean without any knowledge of what will happen. After this, she proudly told everyone how the Ateneo formed her to be a better version of herself.
“In my six years in Ateneo, I got my inspiration not just from playing volleyball, but from playing the sport that I love to inspire. Really, Ateneo taught me to be a woman for others. I’m really thankful that Ateneo gave me a chance to share, influence, and inspire other people through the gifts that God gave me.” Also, in her career which she started by losing 2 championship matches before winning her first for Ateneo, she picked up a very valuable lesson, “…it’s not always about winning. It’s just about giving your all, going all out and giving your heart for the people who support you and, by that, you have won.”
At the end of her speech, she used this opportunity to express her utmost gratitude towards the people who stood with her in her 6 years in the Ateneo, whether she knew them or not. “This is our chance to thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts. Hindi man namin kayo kilala, hindi man namin kayo kadugo, sumisigaw pa rin kayo at nagchi-cheer para sa amin. Maraming salamat po kasi binibigyan niyo kami ng motivation not only to play for ourselves but for the entire Ateneo community.”
She then finished off by thanking her coaches and teammates. She said that the relationship they had with coach Tai Bundit was a love-hate hate hate hate hate (sic) kind, but he really changed everything and pushed the girls to be the best and fittest that they could be. Alyssa then shared that despite her differences with her teammates, she still loved them whole heartedly. At the end, the Lady Eagles recited together “We love our bread, we love our butter, but most of all, we love each other.”
As a door closes, a window of opportunity opens for these graduates, and they will all start a new chapter in their lives. Dan, Ysay, Mae, Amy and Alyssa, thank you for your one big fight!