Exactly like NBA great Kobe Bryant, Alyssa Valdez is also on a farewell tour.
Arguably no player comes close to the type of impact Valdez has had on the local volleyball scene; taking the sport from a niche to the mainstream – one electric smile at a time.
Now playing out her fifth and final season in the UAAP, the reigning MVP admits that she is beginning to absorb the experience as much as she can.
“Siyempre may mixed emotions ako. Sobrang happy ako kasi parang matatapos din pala. I really had and am having a great time at Ateneo,” Valdez reflected. “But then nakaka-sad din na ‘yung comfort zone mo mawawala na which is college. You’re gonna go the real world na so it’s scary din.”
“But then I’m really trying to make the most out of the time na binigay sa akin ngayon so enjoy lang. Feeling ko tumatanda ako kapag iniisp ko,” she added.
“Nakakagulat nga ‘yung mga faces na nakikita ko sa court. Parang oh my god, I’m so old. Lumipas na ‘yung isang generation, nandito pa rin ako.”
The Lady Eagles are currently leading the UAAP at 5-0 with their final two matches of the first round coming on Wednesday against the UE Lady Warriors then their much-awaited Finals rematch with De La Salle University Lady Spikers on Saturday.
As she plays out her final match, she’ll meet teams whose hopes she vanquished, young players that she inspired to play, and familiar foes who have become her friends over the years.
Even if she tries to shrug it off, each of her last few matches are going to be emotional spectacles for everyone who loves the sport.
“Ayokong ma-feel (sadness). Si coach naman ang gusto niya parang maging isip bata kami inside the court. Kailangan maglaro kami na wala kaming alam so that every game will feel new to us – fresh, para excited pa rin kami matuto,” Valdez expressed. “Malayo pa, ayoko lang masyadong isipin kasi I feel old.”