CEBU CITY – Don’t let Maddie Madayag’s looks fool you.
Beneath that meek appearance is a fierce competitor raring to overcome a knee injury that derailed a blossoming sophomore season - and remains undaunted by the huge shoes she'll have to help fill for the Ateneo Lady Eagles in Season 79 following the departure of Alyssa Valdez.
The lanky middle blocker is in town for a vacation with her family, but was gracious enough to sit down for a brief talk. And right off the bat, she quickly shared her recovery from surgery for a torn ACL she suffered during a routine spiking drill in practice earlier in the year.
“It’s getting better. I go to therapy everyday," said Madayag, joined over dinner by her mother Donna, together with Ateneo teammate and former University of San Jose Recoletos standout Deanna Wong and her parents.
"Actually, three to four days after the surgery, nagsimula na ko sa therapy but the doctor (George Canlas) said that recovery will take between eight to 10 months,” she added.
Eight to 10 months of being away from the game she loves the most is understandably unsettling for the young Davaoena. But she understands that in order for her to ultimately reach her peak, she must have a solid and sturdy foundation.
It could've been worse, Madayag added.
"I had an MRI (magnetic resonance imagery) done tapos wala naman daw findings for meniscus tear pero nung inoperahan ako, he (Canlas) saw na may tear. They had to take it out pero naawa si doc, so they repaired it and put it back in kasi daw if kapag tinanggal daw nila, I will get arthritis at an early age,” recounted Madayag.
After going under the knife on April 2, Madayag was back on her feet after just three weeks of active rehab. But the time away has given her a new perspective on what it will take for Ateneo to return to the crest of UAAP volleyball after losing the championship they have held for the last two years to rival La Salle.
“It just felt like last year kasi di ako nakalaro ng masyado. [And] kasi nga I didn’t play as much, I got to see more of the team last year and noticed the differences between that team and the one we have now," she explained.
"Mas cohesive ang team last year kasi nga mas maraming veterans. Kulang lang sa bonding siguro. Kulang sa communication kasi we all had to make adjustments from all the losses in personnel,” added Madayag.
The departures of several key players, though, opened up a grand opportunity for Madayag that she seized to become one of the best middle blockers and servers in the UAAP up until the freak injury that ended her season.
“The hardest part was accepting na matagal ang recovery. I was very frustrated as well kasi Coach Tai (Bundit) gave me a chance to play and na-injury pa. But I can’t really dwell on that since injuries happen all the time. God has a purpose for everything,” said Madayag.
With her eyes set on making a return to the court in late October or early November, Madayag has given an assurance to the Ateneo faithful.
“Although sayang na di na ako nakalaro pero I still have three years. Babawi kami next season,” said Madayag.