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Bersola overcomes injuries to reignite UP in SVL, UAAP

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The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury is arguably the most common and destructive impairment that an athlete can ever experience. An ACL injury can rule an athlete out of action for roughly a year and, at the worst, can permanently damage a person’s knee. Regardless of competition level, the ACL injury has already ruined many careers.

However, the ACL injury isn’t untreatable nor impossible for an athlete to recover from. There have been stories of athletes who have not only recovered from the said injury but also went on to continue and enhance their careers. One such athlete is Kathy Bersola of the University of the Philippines Women’s Volleyball team.

Kathy Bersola has had an eventful Volleyball career these past few years. She was awarded the Best Blocker Award in UAAP Season 76. Bersola continued her good from in Season 77, but she injured her ACL in UP’s game versus Adamson University. That ruled her out of the season and volleyball in general for nine months.

Nevertheless, Bersola proved that a great setback can lead to an almighty comeback. She captained UP to a third place finish in the Shakey’s V-League 12th Season Reinforced Open Conference. In addition to UP’s podium finish, she also clinched the Best Middle Blocker award. Not bad for an athlete who just had an ACL injury.

“Hanggang ngayon, heto sobrang saya na ulit na parang normal na. Parang wala nangyari,” said Bersola after UP’s victory over the Philippine Navy Lady Sailors in the third place playoff.

Bersola added that she thought everything that had happened was a dream. She couldn’t even believe that UP coach Jerry Yee had elected to name her in the starting six throughout the tournament. “Yun nga, sobrang surreal talaga ng feeling. Parang yung past nine months na nagthe-therapy ako, nabura lang lahat. Parang wala nangyari. Parang hindi ko na feel na hindi ako nagtraining for nine months.”

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Bersola overcomes injuries to reignite UP in SVL, UAAP    Despite the great finale in SVL, things weren’t smooth sailing for Bersola in her first competitive game after her ACL injury. Even if Bersola didn’t hesitate to compete in her first game, she was still disappointed in herself since she had only scored seven or eight points. In the end though, she still looked at the bigger picture. “Yun na lang inisip ko. I just looked at the bright side na yun nga kung titignan ko yung experience ko sa experience ng kalaban namin atsaka nung mga teammates ko, okay na rin. Wala akong taong kinokomperan kundi sarili ko kasi ako lang naman yung naka experience ng ganun sa lahat ng nandito so far.”

Resurrection was the theme of Bersola’s recovery. Bersola felt that she had escaped hell to get to where she was now. “Parang namatay ka tapos nabuhay ka ulit,” she expounded. Now that she’s back, the long road of recovery helped her regain confidence in herself. “Siyempre nung start may doubts pa kasi dami kong hindi nagawa tapos hindi pa full yung talon ko, hindi pa ako mabilis tumakbo pero ok lang since sure naman ako na magcocontinue yung improvement, just have to be patient and keep on working on it. Ngayon wala talagang doubts.”

If there is one lesson Bersola had learned when she was injured, it is the virtue of patience. With therapy not a secure solution due to how unpredictably the human body reacts, she accepted that it would take a long while before she could get back on the court. Once she had fully recovered though, she made it a point to never get injured again. She explained, “sobrang sipag ko. May sarili akong warm up. May sarili akong weights program, hindi ako sumasabay sa kanila. Tapos nag-eextra work ako minsan pag mornings or yun basta kung ano-anong ginagawa ko, dami kong ginagawa just to you know maintain. Ayoko na talaga!”

Aside from patience, Bersola said that she also learned other life lessons while she was out injured. “Binura ko na yung nine months na yun pero yung binaon ko lang yung lessons na tinuro niya sa akin like patience, hard work, resilience, kahit sobrang daming setbacks – go lang ng go. Walang bibitaw ganun atsaka mag-trust sa program at sa mga tao around me na naniniwala sa akin.”

A year makes a big difference in sport and Bersola admitted there were changes that she had to face. Not only did she have to adjust her playing style due to her injury, she also had to learn how to lead the since she had been proclaimed captain. She also disclosed that she controlled herself better now and frustration didn’t affect her that much anymore. Adaptation was her only option and she obliged. “So sa nangyari sa akin, sobrang naging gym rat ako. Yung weights ko, iba kasi yung ginagawa ko. Makasipag talaga. I wanted to be closer sa team kasi nga matagal ako nawala tapos puro bago pa sila halos. Lagi kong sinasamahan ang mga rookies. Lagi kaming lumalabas. Nag-aral akong mabuti.”

UP’s rookies made it a point to step up for Bersola in her absence and that made her one proud ate. Bersola is proud of her younger teammates because they stepped on the court without fear of their opponents. “Sobrang tapang nila parang tagal na ba kayo nag college?! Ganun yung feeling. Parang wow! Wow lang talaga! Super talaga! Kung tawaging super rookies, super talaga. Tiwala ako sa kanila.”

The UAAP Season 78 volleyball tournament is two months away and Bersola is keeping tabs on how fit she is. She said it wasn’t only an ACL injury she experienced but also Jumper’s Knee. Jumper’s knee is a common injury for athletes who tend to work their knees a lot, and it gives them a lot of pain in the knee area. “Inaayos ko pa kasi parang nagkaroon ng complication, Jumper’s knee, yung dati ko na ring injury pero ok naman parang nakakalimutan ko pag game so iniintindi ko lang siya kapag nasa therapy ako or nasa training. Yun. Nasa two months na yun. Work on it pa baka pa kasi lumalalo then February game na ako.” She then rated herself 70% to 90% ready for the UAAP.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Bersola overcomes injuries to reignite UP in SVL, UAAP    Before their respective UAAP season, varsity teams normally engage in tune-up games or pre-season tournaments to shape up before the big dance. In that sense, UP shall head to UAAP Season 78 in high spirits after their third place finish in the latest SVL conference. Bersola shared the same sentiment and added that the whole experience was good for their rookies and for her as well. “Nung first SVL napansin pa na nahihiya sila. Ngayon wala na diba? Sobrang parang pantay-pantay kami. Lahat kami fourth year. Ayun maganda kasi nagkakumpyansa silang lahat. Pati ako, lalo na’t iba yung feeling kapag UAAP agad yung pinasok ko eh kaya sobrang thankful ko talaga na nakalaro ako dito.”

Likewise, Bersola divulged that Yee was happy his team had participated in the SVL. She revealed that Yee told the team, “yan ang lamang natin sa ibang UAAP schools kasi hindi sila sumali. Hindi sila nag-try na mag-expose sa ganito and may rookies din naman sila.” She agreed and reiterated her previous point that her rookie teammates aren’t rookies anymore. “Yun talaga yung feeling kong edge namin sa kanila dahil kahit na sabihin mong first year pa lang sila, parang hindi sila first year. Solid kami kahit bago sila and nakabuo kami ng first six. Kasi nung start, shuffle pa ng shuffle. Latter part, nabuo na namin finally. Feeling ko ito na yung UAAP.”

Confidence isn’t going to be be an issue for Bersola and her teammates in the UAAP due to their strong performance in the SVL. Bersola then revealed that the team put up a wager with Yee as a means of motivation to perform well in the UAAP.

She later concluded, “So yun nga, we built confidence here, kalaban namin mga veterans tapos lalo na nung last set. Maganda, maganda yung last set kasi nakita namin na nag-coordinate lalo na yung mga bata. Confidence booster talaga.”

Come what may this UAAP Season 78, Bersola has demonstrated that no mountain is high enough to climb if you pour your heart out and give everything you’ve got. Expect her and the rest of the UP Women’s Volleyball team to put up a strong showing this Season 78.

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Lorenzo's a frustrated author who knows a thing or two about Football and Basketball. Went all green from Ortigas to Taft. Supports Liverpool FC, FC Bayern Munich and the Alaska Aces

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