THE transition from player to coach hasn't been easy for Alyssa Valdez.
The former Queen Eagle admitted she was itching to play as she watched Ateneo go down in defeat against unheralded Technological Institute of the Philippines in the two teams' debut in the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Collegiate Conference.
After playing out her five-year eligibility in the UAAP, the three-time UAAP MVP was relegated to the role as an assistant in the Lady Eagles coaching staff headed by Tai Bundit for the off-season tournament.
As a Lady Eagles side struggled without Valdez and injured starters Jhoanna Maraguinot and Bea De Leon, Valdez admitted she had to fight the urge to play as her former team dropped a 24-26, 25-14, 21-25, 25-18, 15-12 defeat on Monday at the PhilSports Arena.
“Oo naman (gusto ko na pumasok kanina), sabi ko nga as an athlete naman ‘yun lang naman ang gusto mo, ang makatulong sa team,” Valdez told a handful of sportswriters outside the Ateneo locker room.
“(But) it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about helping the team when kailangan ng tulong. Lahat naman ng nasa labas talaga gustung-gusto talaga makatulong sa team,” she added.
Valdez said she tried to help the Lady Eagles in other ways in her new role.
“And kahit anong (paraan) pagbigay ng tubig, kahit pag-cheer lang, you can motivate and you can inspire naman your team so sana nakatulong kami and hopefully it’s a learning experience for everyone din for us na kung ano pa ang dapat namin matutunan as a team, also as a brand new team,” she continued.
Initially, Ateneo coach Tai Bundit wanted to put Valdez in the lineup but management chose not to, saying it wants to give current players the exposure they need in preparation for the coming UAAP Season 79.
Valdez said the exposure will help the next batch of Lady Eagles in the long term.
“At the end of the day, kailangan din natin isipin ‘yung benefit ng team natin sa longer future,” she added. “So we really have to just help sa different perspective na outside of the court na, sana nakakatulong naman ako in that way.”
Having a close bond with the Lady Eagles, Valdez felt she was in the best position to help the players build their confidence.
“Ako, honestly, I would just say, ‘Guys, you just have to play and enjoy the game’. It’s always naman like that,” she said. “As their teammate, siguro kilala ko rin sila na gusto lang nila ng encouragement and as kids also gusto lang nila na, alam mo ‘yun, ‘yung pinu-push lang talaga sila.”
The volleyball star said the loss will be a learning experience for the young Lady Eagles.
“Hopefully, ganoon lang, hindi mawawalan ng confidence ang mga bata and instead sana maging motivation nila ‘to to be good and improve themselves pa as a team and as individuals,” she said.