By Carol Cerveza
Most of you might not know me, but yes, I am a Lady Spiker. I was there when DLSU won the championship in Seasons 74 and 75. I was also there when we had the heart breaking losses in Seasons 76 and 77. And yes, it is already my final playing year.
Back in high school, I was really happy with how my life went. In a way, I have helped my parents by having an athletic scholarship. My team has been bagging championship titles. I have also received numerous individual awards, one of which is the Palarong Pambansa MVP award in 2010. I also performed well inside the classroom.
Entering college, I knew where I wanted to be. Since 3rd grade, I’ve always dreamt of playing for DLSU. I have already planned how my college life would be. I was pretty confident that I have a space in collegiate volleyball since I had good exposure in high school. I was able to pass my entrance exam and I got accepted into the engineering program. I got a good support system — family, friends, high school teammates, and coach. I also got tips from my older sister who also played for the Lady Spikers and brother who played for the Green Spikers.
Suddenly, the bubble burst.
College for a student-athlete is totally different. It is fast-paced and competitive. To me, it was really a test of time management and above all, a test of character.
There were times when I wanted to give up.
It is as if I was playing a video game wherein I got into a bad start and that I do not even want to push anymore. How I wish that there was a real-life restart button.
Frankly, my passion for the sport lessened.
Sure, I made it to the line-up (usually the 12th, 13th or 14th man), but I never really got the sense of fulfillment that I was able to contribute to the team and make my presence felt.
For the first three years, I was not able to play significant minutes. The warm up box was my second home. It is where I patiently warmed up and cheered my teammates playing on the court. There are days when I wished if can I just be an ordinary student, but I told myself that I am not a quitter and that I am bound to do greater things. Oh, did I even mention that I shifted from Electronics and Communication Engineering to Entrepreneurship so that I can focus more on volleyball? I sacrificed a lot because I know that if I want to prove and achieve something, I have to work hard for it. I have to give my full commitment.
On my fourth playing year, that’s when things got a little brighter, well for the second round up to the championship games.
On the first game of the second round (against FEU), the coaches called me to play. I knew that it was not really part of the game plan, it was more of a last minute substitution. Of course, it was nerve-wracking since I’m not really used to playing during crunch time. Then, I realized that if I don’t perform well, I would not get a second chance and since I am already considered as a senior, if the coaches still don’t see anything in me, they would give the opportunity to the younger players.
From that game on, I persevered and worked hard to improve my skills and attitude. I stopped comparing myself to others. Thank God that I was able to let go of the doubts and focus more on performing well.
The greatest thing I learned throughout my experience is resilience. It is the strength to rise up every time I fall. It is also the ability to keep going and to have the right attitude despite the setbacks and frustrations.
In those years, I’ve learned how to laugh at benchwarmer jokes, tell my parents that I am perfectly fine and that I am still dedicated to continue playing although I have failed so many times.
This coming season, I promise to give my all.
I dedicate my last playing year to the entire Lasallian Community, to my team, to my family, and most of all, to God.
To those of you who feel frustrated, impatient, and underappreciated, I challenge you to be like a bamboo.
Keep in mind that it is okay to bend, but make sure you do not break.
As the great Aikido master Kensho Furuya says in Kodo: Ancient Ways, “The warrior, like bamboo, is ever ready for action.”
Be always ready. You will never know when the opportunity that you have been waiting for so long will finally arrive.