Ex-Ateneo star Gretchen Ho says school pride greatly felt in UAAP Season 79 opening

Expect UST to throw in fireworks—literally and figuratively—in its big time events.

From the energetic march of the athletes from the Arch of the Century to the Plaza Mayor, the concert that capped the night, and the trademark fireworks display atop the Main Building, host University of Santo Tomas pulled out all the stops to make the UAAP Season 79 opening ceremonies one for the books.

Present during the event and reporting for TV Patrol, former Ateneo volleyball star Gretchen Ho can’t help but be impressed by the Olympic-style UAAP opening.

“Sa akin, sobrang okay. Napaka-heartfelt niya. Sobrang simple pero ramdam na ramdam mo ‘yung school pride,” Ho told FOX Sports.

“Ang lapit ng mga estudyante sa mga atleta. Lahat, kahit ano’ng eskwelahan, magkakasama dito ngayon at united as one para sa pagse-celebrate ng UAAP season.”

Veering away from the usual shows held at big venues, the hosts put on a show at its own school grounds, featuring dozens of athletes from different sports from all participating schools in its efforts to send a message across that the league is more than just its centerpiece event.

Having debuted for the Lady Eagles back in Season 71, a time when volleyball was still on the verge of breaking into the limelight, the middle blocker was all too familiar with the feeling of playing a game not many appreciate.

In regards to other sports that are slowly but surely getting a share of the spotlight, she shares: “Kung mapapansin mo, every year padami ng padami (ang sports) na nabibigyan ng atensyon. Dati basketball tapos volleyball tapos nadagdag football tapos cheerdance tapos may weightlifting na din.”

“There’s no way to go but up,” she added.

Now on a hiatus from playing volleyball competitively, Ho is focusing on her blossoming career as a regular host of morning show Umagang Kay Ganda, while also juggling stints that promote sports like TV show University Town which she co-hosts with Robie Domingo.

The former Ateneo lady spikey may have hung her jersey and set aside her rubber shoes in favor of dresses and high heels, but make no mistake, she is still advocating for the youth’s participation in physical recreation in her own way.

“Sobrang tine-treasure ko ‘yung pwesto ko ngayon sa media kasi nakikita ko na meron akong platform para bigyan ng exposure ‘yung mga sports na hindi masyadong nare-recognize at ‘yung mga athlete na wala masyadong coverage o kaya ‘yung mga istorya na hindi masyadong nabibigyan ng pansin,” she said.

“Para sa akin napakalapit nun sa puso ko bilang atleta na nanggaling sa ganun,” she added.

Three years after bidding her collegiate career adieu, Ho is excited to see new talents emerge and be the league’s new torch-bearers in the years to come.

Talking about a new generation of sports heroes, she shares: “Super excited ako kasi nakikita ko na clean slate eh, for basketball, for volleyball, for a lot of teams. Madaming nag graduate. Bagong henerasyon na naman.”

“Itong mga bata na ito siguro ‘yung mga nanonood sa amin noon pero ngayon sila naman ang magco-compete,” she closed. – Mac Dionisio

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