What are you willing to sacrifice to win a UAAP title?
This was the tough question UST spiker Imee Hernandez had to ask herself at the tail-end of their UAAP Season 79 girls’ volleyball campaign.
Even before the season started, the middle blocker already had her plate full of roadblocks as she suffered from a partial ACL tear on her right knee.
Though her perseverance and decision to play through the pain were rewarded by another finals appearance by the España crew, the pain reached boiling point after their Game 2 win—the penultimate match leading her a game away from her dream of bagging the gold.
To describe the struggle, the spiker shares: “Every game pinapa-inom kami ng pain reliever. ‘Yung supporter lalagyan pa po namin ng pro-wrap para walang mangyari sa game. Pagtapos ng Game 2 sa umaga sobrang sakit niya. Ice lang po tapos okay na ulit, training na ulit.”
While doctors watched closely the developments of Hernandez’s condition during the 2-round eliminations, the spiker stopped showing up at her regular check-ups come the finale in fear of being barred from seeing further action inside the court.
Upholding the beauty of amateurism in sports, the Bulacan native said she’d go through all the pain all over again for her team and her coaches.
“Gusto na rin po kasi namin mag champion. Gift po sana namin kanila Ate Eya (Laure) if ever mawawala na sila dito sa junior high school,” she said. “Sabi din po nila, pag nag champion kami, ‘yun na ‘yung Christmas gift namin sa isa’t isa.”
“Para din po kasi kanila coach sana. Gusto po namin sana sila masuklian man lang sa lahat ng hirap nila sa amin,” she added as she lost grip of her emotions and let the tears come falling down.
In the end, NU won the titanic battle to complete a rare 3-peat, sending Hernandez to tears as she watched all she ever wanted at the hands of someone else.
Nonetheless, it was worth it, she says.
On finishing the campaign with a positive outlook, Hernandez shares: “‘Yun lang lagi namin mindset: lalaban kami ng sama-sama. Sabi nga po nila coach na pumasok kami as a team, lalabas kami as a team.”
“Tuloy pa rin po ang buhay at ang training. Mag rest po muna kami. Gawin na lang namin na lesson ito para next year. Ang importante natuto kami sa laban na ito,” she closed.