Ana Gopico was supposed to be the next big thing for Ateneo.
After leading NCR to the Palarong Pambansa crown and getting named MVP in Dumaguete in 2013, Gopico was expected to reinforce the middle blocker position and help the Lady Eagles win their first-ever UAAP crown.
Alas, the Colegio San Agustin product tore her ACL midway through the tournament and missed the rest of Season 76.
And just as she was revving up to suit up for Ateneo in Season 77, Gopico injured her knee anew, forcing her out of action when the Katipunan belles achieved a back-to-back in 2015.
The towering spiker was on hand to witness the Lady Eagles fail in their 3-peat bid Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
After seeing her seniors and batchmates bow to bitter rival La Salle in front of a record crowd, Gopico could not hide her frustration.
“Syempre na-sad ako kasi I can’t help them para manalo,” she told FOX Sports. “Nakaka-frustrate na injured ka tapos hindi ka makatulong sa team at hindi makaka-play ng sport na love mo.”
Looking back at her rookie year, Gopico believes her injury inspired Ateneo to rally and bag the title.
“Iniisip ko na lang na inalay ako,” she quipped. “Sobrang frustrating pero nanalo naman kami. Kaya worth it pa rin yung nangyari sa akin.”
Now recovered from her knee injuries and with Amy Ahomiro graduating, Gopico, now in her third year with the Blue and White, hopes to finally end her spell and play for Ateneo next year.
However, she doesn’t want to get too far ahead of herself.
“Hopefully, next school year kung wala ng other injuries na dadating,” she shared. “But I’m not sure. Ayaw ko pangunahan, kasi naniniwala ako sa superstitions.”
If and when she is medically cleared to join the Lady Eagles, Gopico would have to battle with starters Bea de Leon and Maddie Madayag — both of whom weren’t even there when the former made her UAAP debut.
Gopico, who also helped NCR to the Palaro title in 2012, says she is ready physically, but would have to overcome the fear of getting injured again.
“Sobrang ready naman ako, but ayoko nagpe-predict yung mangyayari in the future kasi natatakot ako sa injuries,” she admitted. “Yung injury ko merong trauma e. So hindi ako sure kung kaya kong mag-step up agad for the team. I’m trying to start slow. Mahihina na training muna.” — By Arylle Magtalas