The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic brought Ateneo de Manila University’s title-defense bid in the UAAP Season 82 Women’s Volleyball Tournament to a screeching halt.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that head coach Oliver Almadro and his Lady Eagles have become a part of a long chorus of mentors and athletes expressing their dismay over the cancellation.
“Many are asking how is my players now, and how will my graduating seniors react and feel about this,” the outspoken mentor bared in a text message.
“Well, frankly, most of them are in low morale and sad that now there is a decrease in motivation for them to work hard every day, even in quarantine.”
He also said, “Personally, I am saddened about the cancellation of the UAAP. After all the hard work and sacrifices, the UAAP will be concluded in this manner.”
In the truncated season, many the Lady Eagles considered as one of the heavy favorites, boasting a good blend of veterans and young talents.
It could have been a campaign to remember for the blue and white community, considering the return of Kat Tolentino, Jho Maraguinot, and Jamie Lavitoria, and the debut of Faith Nisperos.
But as it turned out, Season 82 wasn’t meant to be.
The abrupt end was also all the more heartbreaking with Ateneo suffering a gut-wrenching loss to arch-rival De La Salle University in what would be its final match.
With a promising season over in a blink of an eye, Almadro could only remind his wards to keep their spirits high.
“I am convincing them to stay strong and be courageous; that this time, they have to be still and realize that the Lord is in control — that all of these have reasons that we have to take it positively,” the multi-title coach said.
“Their talents will still be there. Their energy and strength now should be used to be of blessing to others.”
He then continued, “I know my players have this Magis inside of them. And I’m asking all of them naman to be ‘steady in their will’, and they have to be in condition pa din.”
Nonetheless, Almadro understands the league’s decision in light of the global health crisis.
“Considering the uncertainty and unsafe situation because of the COVID-19 in our country and the whole world, we just have to acknowledge the perspective — that this is the right decision of the UAAP,” he said.
“The situation is much bigger than the UAAP. Right now there is no blue, green, yellow, maroon, etcetera. We should be one and united in supporting and helping to heal and flatten the curve by staying at home or being an instrument in our own way.”
For his part, Almadro acknowledges that he has a daunting task ahead of him once the COVID-19 situation ends.
“Well, in my twenty-three years of coaching in the UAAP from assistant coach to head coach, I haven’t experienced this kind of ‘rest’ — that we don’t know where to start after a vacation, what timetable to prepare, what program to apply because of the uncertainty of the calendar of events in the future after COVID-19,” he said.
“I just have to equip myself too in various ways, para pagtapos meron din ako natutunan — to be shared to my teams and my players.”