Talk to anyone about the local volleyball scene and it is inevitable that the name Alyssa Valdez will enter the conversation. Without a doubt, the woman is one of the biggest names of the sport to this day. But despite the numerous achievements under her belt, the former three-time MVP of the Ateneo Lady Eagles is still refreshingly humble.
“I just feel really lucky that the management put this much trust in us,” she starts when talking about being a part of the national team for the upcoming Asian Games. “After representing your school, your goal is to represent the country. And I think yun maganda sa mga athlete. When you’re called for duty, you can’t say no.”
Alyssa, who has been part of the national team since she was fifteen, is looking forward to training with a new coach and with her teammates, some new and some old. Some who also happened to be her former opponents during her years playing in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP). “Before, you were learning from your opponents from the other side, guarding their every move and trying to understand how they play. Now, it’s nice that you get to help each other and contribute more to the team,” she says.
In a way, she and her contemporaries can be considered pioneers in a country that was so used to sports being male-dominated, bringing volleyball to the forefront. “Every sport deserves to be known so we’re really thankful” she says, also adding that she has also noticed the role social media has played. “I also think that we’re really lucky na sa pagsabay ng pagsikat ng volleyball there was social media. People got to see what it was like behind the scenes and at the same time, many opportunities opened up for us, like this cover shoot!” she says with a warm laugh.
There is this contradiction in Alyssa that truly sets her apart. While on the court, she is fierce and determined to bring her team success, in person, she seems composed and totally at ease with her surroundings. The star player adds that one moment in her career she will never forget is failing to win the championship during her last year in Ateneo. While she says it was disappointing, it was also a turning point for her. “In the end, I realized I gained many new friends and experiences. It made me stronger, molding me into someone I didn’t know I could be.” If that isn’t being a good sport, then what is? Alyssa is one of the most skilled players in this country, yes, but one can instantly tell that it is her character that always shines through.