When Julius Diaz first entered De La Salle University, he did so with a chip on his shoulder.
Diaz led the University of Santo Tomas to a finals appearance in Season 78 and earned the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards. Still, the native of Tanay, Rizal found himself forced to leave the España school under difficult circumstances.
Fast forward to Season 85, and Diaz ended his UAAP career celebrating with the rest of the Green Batters after they defeated the University of the Philippines 8-4 in game two to win the championship.
“Nung way back nung Season 81, residency ako nun. Alam mo yun parang hindi ko pa feel na nag-champion din kasi I’m not part of the team pa nung time na yun,” he said. “Pero ngayon, mixed emotions. Hindi ko ma-explain pero napakasaya maging champion.”
This championship – La Salle’s sixth UAAP crown in its history – vindicated Diaz’s transfer to the Green and White. He stayed with the team even during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While there was an adjustment period where he had to get used to his new surroundings and teammates around him, he was able to find a sense of purpose and fulfillment. This then motivated him to give it his all this past season.
“Nung time na ano, kasi from softball ako, medyo nahirapan ako, pero nangako ako sa team, sa management, at sa coaches na babawi ako. Hahabulin natin ang championship,” said the Sports Studies minor in Financial Management student.
“Medyo nag-adjust pa ako sa La Salle. Siyempre hindi ko pa masyadong close yung mga tao, pero yung paglipat ko sa La Salle, dun ko nakita yung true home ko.”
During game two against the Fighting Maroons, Diaz blasted the ball to UP substitute center-fielder Timothy Yu. His impact allowed the Green Batters to extend the lead to three runs.
Despite feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders, he found a way to come good for his team.
“Kasi kung hindi mahalaga yung game sa yo, hindi ka kakabahan eh. Siyempre, may kaba din kahit sabihin mong veteran or experienced player ako. Siyempre pag mahalaga yung game sa yo at gusto mo talaga, kakabahan ka,” he said.
Now that his UAAP career is over, Diaz leaves as a champion with La Salle. All those past trials were now vanquished with just one swing of the bat. Just like he did early in his career, he is now looking forward to his next move in the professional ranks.
“After my graduation, pupunta ako ng abroad to play softball.”