Two summers ago, Jessma Ramos took a leap of faith, pushed her luck and tried out for a slot in UP’s lineup.
Back then, she barely had any competitive experience in the growing sport, having only begun playing during her fourth year in high school.
Fast forward to 2016 and the Bacolod native has finally gotten the attention of coach Jerry Yee, who sent her on the court during their battle-for-third matchup with FEU in the 13th Shakey’s V-League Collegiate Conference Monday.
“Hindi ako na-scout, ako yung pumunta sa UP for tryout,” she said. “Nung una, dahil sa kapatid ko kasi kinuha siya ng UP badminton para mag-train sa kanila. Tinulungan ako nung manager ng UP badminton para mag-try out.”
The first week of training was horrendous and deadly, as she tried to quickly adjust to the rigorous schedule of the Lady Maroons, who have been on the rise under Yee’s tutelage.
“Sobrang pagod na pagod ako sa first week ko sa UP,” she said. “Every night na matapos yung training, sobrang pagod na pagod ako hindi ako makahinga. May time na sobrang hindi ko na talaga kinayanan yung jog sa one round sa UP Oval.”
But the 5-foot-8 spiker said that all the hardships helped her grow as a player.
And when Yee needed someone to sub in for team captain Kathy Bersola against the Lady Tamaraws in Game 1, Ramos came in and provided a spark for the Lady Maroons.
The result was the Diliman squad came back and won the next 2 sets before faltering in the final frame to suffer yet another defeat.
That short stint inside the court was huge enough to give the 18-year-old a morale booster.
“Sa 3 sets na yun na-feel ko na may trust si coach sa akin, na naniniwala sila sa kaya kong gawin,” she said. “Never talaga akong [nag-Palarong Pambansa] and sa volleyball life ko never kong na-experience yung ganon. Parang nagulat ako, wow nandito na ko sa school na pinapanood ko lang before and now I belong na sa mga nag-cocompete sa UAAP.”
But it looks like Ramos needs to work double time if she dreams of breaking the Lady Maroons’ lineup for Season 79.
And she is more than game to start grinding for that dream debut in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament in 2017.
“Hindi pa nya ina-assure yun. You have to work for it pa rin para makapasok ka dyan sa pwesto na yan,” she said. “Meron pa kong kailangan na i-improve pa para sabihin ko na kayang kaya ko talaga. Inaamin ko na I have to work hard pa.” — By John Chester Fajardo