This time four years ago, I was on my last year of high school. Palarong Makati just ended and the district team I was in failed to bag that coveted championship crown and get the chance to represent our city. This translated to me not being able to pursue my short-lived dream of playing in the Nationals. Why was the dream short-lived, you ask? It was never part of the plan.
I was the epitome of the all-around honor student stereotype. I was highly-competitive in everything that I did, and I did a lot back then, believe me. I was part of all our school clubs including the student council and the school paper, I had a band wherein I played the drums, I kept my grades up, I read a lot, and I played various sports.
My life was practically planned out. Volleyball was obviously not a priority, though I already loved the sport even back then. I didn’t even know that athletic meets were a thing since my main sport then was Taekwondo (trained with a gym, not a school). I was not given all the opportunities in the world to play Volleyball competitively since we barely joined any leagues (nor trained regularly), but this did not make me love the sport any less. In fact, come senior year, I had concocted this crazy dream in my brain of me playing in the prestigious Palarong Pambansa before I said goodbye to high school, which led to me spending all my breaks playing spike-receive with my best friend.
Oh, I had my chance to make that dream a reality alright… But I blew it.
I played my heart out during my last Makati Meet. I wasn’t a good player, nor was I in peak condition, but I wanted to win so bad. But alas, we lost to CSA. I thought my crazy dream was over, but I was given the opportunity to try-out for the Makati Team that will compete in the NCR Meet.
I was so excited, but I was in over my head. Two days of training and I wanted to quit and give up on my dream. Why? Aside from me dying just from the team’s warm-up and obviously not being as skilled with the fundamentals as the rest of them, I had to miss a lot of classes. I was graduating and running for honors. I had to make a decision.
So I quit. And for the record, that’s not something I do. I can count using the fingers on one hand the number of times I quit in my life. It was not my proudest moment.
My friends told me to let it go and move on… To set my sights on college. I was going to UP and they said that maybe I could play there. I jokingly agreed and said: “Bawi nalang ako sa college. Di man ako nakapag-Palaro, makakapag-UAAP naman ako.” It was such a hilarious and far-fetched thought back then.
Fast forward to four years, two V-Leagues, three UAAPs, numerous minor leagues, and one major injury later… I am now playing my senior year. How in the world have I been surviving four years of intense training, when 30 minutes of jogging back in high school had me running for the toilet to vomit?
Looking back, I am still in utter disbelief of and absolutely awed at how God got me here, despite all the missed opportunities and setbacks I encountered. He always knows exactly what I need and brings it to me at the perfect time. His answer to my prayer was: “You’re not getting this because I have something better in store for you.” All I had to do was be patient, trust God, and continue working day in, day out.
It was never part of the plan, but here I am… Four years in and still fighting for that coveted crown with the team I have grown completely attached to. There is no time to waste this UAAP season.
This may or may not be my last year in the league, but I will be treating every game as if it were my last.
Higher goals have been set and bigger dreams and plans are to be fulfilled. I owe it to the university and the community which pushed me to reach for my dreams. I owe it to my ever-supportive family. I owe it to my coaches and my team who challenged and helped me become the best player and person I could be. I owe it to God for guiding me here. But most importantly, I owe it to that wildly competitive kid who loved the sport so much, kept the dream alive, and sorely wanted to redeem herself.
This one’s for you. — By Kathy Bersola