It’s a known fact now that Sisi Rondina was first scouted and recruited by the Ateneo de Manila University.
“‘Di pa ako coach ng women’s team, I’ve been recruiting her for Ateneo. ‘Di lang talaga natuloy,” recalled Almadro, who was then-head coach of the Blue Eagles.
“You can ask her. Ako ‘yung unang-unang nag-recruit sa kanya from here.”
After things fell through with the Lady Eagles, Rondina chose to accept the University of Santo Tomas’ offer.
Five years later, as some Ateneo officials admitted, not bringing in in Rondina became one of their biggest regrets. The 5-foot-6 Cebuana blossomed into one of the most explosive attackers in the UAAP.
The Lady Eagles won the crown, but not before Rondina gave them a scare.
“She made everything so much harder.
“Kung alam lang niya kung gaano ako sinigawan ni coach (Oliver Almadro) dahil hindi ko makuha ‘yung spikes niya na sobrang deep cross,” reflected Finals MVP Bea De Leon, who had numerous battles with Rondina both in indoor and beach volleyball.
De Leon would dominate the heads-up record with Rondina on the Taraflex, while Rondina owned De Leon on the sand court.
And after years of battle, De Leon made sure to tell Rondina how much she respects her as a competitor. Captain to captain.
“I just wanted to let her know that this shouldn’t define her career and what she has accomplished. Imagine she’s five-foot-six? But I mean, that talent, that heart, and she led her team here. Of course, she had Eya (Laure), but imagine, tinrabaho niya ‘yan for five years. And she wasn’t even supposed to be indoor, right? Grabe siya,” expressed De Leon, one of Ateneo’s four captains.
“I just wanted to let her know how much I respected her as an opponent.”
Perhaps the most telling tribute to Rondina came from Almadro himself.
However, unlike Almadro’s other successful recruitment stories like Cha Cruz and Chie Saet, Rondina was simply meant to be a Thomasian.
“‘Di lang talaga natuloy but bata pa lang si Sisi Rondina, nakikita ko na siya and sabi ko sa kanya may future ‘tong bata. Indeed, MVP.”