EVERYONE knows how Sisi Rondina made a mark in the University of Santo Tomas community. But for the alumni spiker, the reverse is also true. Almost a year past her stint with the Golden Tigresses, she constantly feels the need to go back to her second home.
“Kahit saan ako magpunta, kahit anong gawin ko, naka-attach sa pangalan ko ‘yung UST. Maririnig ko pa sa mga tao minsan, ‘Uy si Rondina ‘yan, ‘yung taga-UST,” she told SPIN Life.
For her, the school is more than just a learning institution. It also became her refuge in times of distress. “Kumbaga, bahay na talaga siya para sa akin, ‘pag malungkot ako, pupunta lang akong UST, makikipagkwentuhan kila coach, okay na ako.”
As a way of giving back to the institution that molded her, she shared that assisting her former team, in any way she can, has already become part of her routine, despite a packed schedule attending to her duties in the beach volleyball national team and the professional leagues.
Rondina said: “Hindi naman ako nawala [sa UST]. Physically lang ako nawala sa laro, pero alam naman nila na one text away, one call away, and one chat away lang naman talaga ako. ’Pag wala akong gagawin, pumupunta talaga ako lagi, hindi nawawala ‘yung suporta."
Known for her fighting spirit, Sisi is now taking on a new role: being an older sister to her former teammates. Whenever she visits, she's often at the sidelines, gives encouraging pep talks.
“They know kung ano ‘yung mga binitawan kong salita. Sabi ko, mahalin nila kung paano ko minahal ang UST. Lagi ko naman silang nireremind na laban lang, kailangan nila i-commit yung sarili nila kasi pinasukan niyo 'yan, so tapusin niyo yan. Kung kailangan nila ng kausap, ng ate, ‘pag nahihirapan sila, ready akong magbigay ng advice lagi para sa kanila,” she said.
Sisi added: “Sila din naman, ‘yung buong team, never nila pina-feel sa akin na tapos na ako dito, lagi nila pinaparamdam na I still belong to them.”