WELCOME to the club.
Alyssa Valdez has urged the University of Santo Tomas pair of Ria Meneses and EJ Laure to embrace the Spartan-like training regimen of Ateneo coach Tai Bundit, saying it will only make her national teammates better.
Meneses and Laure admitted being dead-tired at the end of the three-hour practice under Bundit as part of the Philippine team's preparations for Asian Under-23 women's volleyball championships in Manila next month - a statement that only drew knowing smiles from Valdez and Lady Eagles setter Jia Morado.
“Wala pa nga 'yan eh,” said a giggling Valdez at the end of the practice session at the at the Blue Eagle gym inside the Ateneo campus.
The two-time UAAP MVP knows what she’s talking about.
Now used to Bundit’s strict training regimen the past two years, Valdez shared how the Lady Eagles were made to finish five rounds in the oval inside five minutes before going their weight training in the morning.
In the afternoon, Valdez and Co. will have another three-hour practice drill, go through plays and tackle an obstacle course that includes a three-feet high box that each player has to jump over.
No wonder Valdez said Bundit, a consultant for the Philippine team, was still going easy on both Meneses and Laure.
“Chill pa nga si coach Tai sa lagay na 'yan,” the Ateneo superstar added.
But Meneses and Laure begged to disagree.
“Pagod na pagod ako pero masaya,” said Meneses, who slumped on the floor after practice while wiping the sweat from her forehead.
“Hindi (ako sanay sa ganoong training) kasi super intense,” Laure admitted for her part.
Valdez said trying to get used to Bundit's training is the hardest part. The Lady Eagles, she added, had been doing that same training for breakfast and dinner the last two seasons on the way to winning two straight UAAP championships.
“At first naman talaga makikita mo 'yung pagod kasi naman talaga si coach Tai 'yun naman talaga titignan niya, kung hanggang saan yung limit mo,” said the Ateneo star.
“Syempre kailangan i-balance ni coach Tai lahat 'yan and eventually masasanay rin naman 'yung mga players.”
Valdez and Morado tried to lighten the mood for both Meneses and Laure and kidded around when the two UST players were already gasping for air.
“Sabi nga namin, tinutulungan niya (coach Tai) sila (Meneses and Laure). After this, UAAP (season na), so kami 'yung magkakalaban tapos tinuturuan niya, kaya sinasabihan nga namin siya, naglolokohan kami, 'Coach, no, we play with them in UAAP,’” said Valdez with a laugh.
The 21-year old spiker from San Juan, Batangas believes that, just like the Lady Eagles when Bundit first took over the Ateneo coaching job two years ago, Meneses and Laure can only get better if they embrace the training.
“So we're joking around, pero for sure kaya naman nila, kaya talaga,” said Valdez. “Ang start talaga lagi naman 'yung mahirap eh, siyempre pag nasanay ka and nag-focus ka wala namang mahirap.”
No matter how hard the training is, it can be fulfilling in the end, Valdez said.
“Kami nga ni Jia sinasabi namin masaya ang training ni Coach Tai. Mahirap siya pero macha-challenge ka na gawin kasi it's new for you,” said Valdez.
“Macha-challenge ka talaga and pag nagawa mo 'yun talagang fulfilling and satisfied 'yung pakiramdam,” she added. ‘”Yun lang naman ang sinabi namin na i-enjoy niyo lang kasi gusto lang ni Coach Tai masaya kayo sa training.”
The charming volleybelle said Bundit's ‘heart-strong’ mantra is only a by-product of a happy training.
“’Yun 'yung masaya sa training ni coach, 'yung feeling na fulfilling,” said Valdez. “Pagod na pagod ka pero alam mo sa sarili mo na binigay mo 'yung lahat mo. Hindi ka na maglu-look back na, 'Ah, sayang sana binigay ko lahat sa training.'
"‘Yun talaga ang mentality ni Coach Tai, 'yun ang gusto niyang i-instill sa lahat ng players.”