AFTER 25 long years, veteran setter Tina Salak has finally decided to call it a career.
This time for good.
The RC Cola Army playmaker has been vocal about her retirement plans since 2014, but made it official just minutes after the Lady Troopers settled for the fourth spot in the Philippine Super Liga Grand Prix on Thursday at The Arena in San Juan.
“Ito na ang huli,” said Salak.
For the former Far Eastern University standout and former national team member, her retirement was ‘long overdue.'
The 40-year old athlete/ Army sergeant from Bacoor, Cavite, admitted that there came a time that she grew tired of playing the sport.
“Long overdue na ito actually. Kaya lang for me kasi nakatali kasi ako sa Army. Alam niyo naman hindi lang naman kami athletes, sundalo rin kami so once na sinabi ni ganito na maglaro ka, maglaro ka,” she said.
“Pero pakiusap ko lang din kung sakali man na pilitin nila ako, sana maintindihan nila kung ano naman ang gusto ko, parang ganoon kasi masyado nang overdue.
"Sana maintindihan nila na pagod na pagod na ako, physically hindi ko na kaya minsan, ‘yung ayaw ko na gumising para mag-training, humantong na ako sa ganoon kaya sana maintindihan ng Army,” she added.
Looking back on her long and colorful volleyball career, Salak, who started out as middle blocker before she was converted into an opposite spiker, could only smile and be grateful.
She has a total of three Southeast Asian Games medals - a silver medal in the 1995 Chang Mai Games, a bronze in the 1997 Jakarta SEA Games and a bronze medal finish in the 2005 Manila SEA Games.
She was part of the FEU back-to-back champion team in the UAAP (1994-1995), she had two titles in the Shakey’s V-League (Season 8 Second Conference and Season 11 Second Conference) and she skippered the Lady Troopers to four titles in the PSL, including three consecutive from the 2013 Inaugural Conference, 2013 Grand Prix, 2014 All Filipino and 2016 Invitational Conference.
But unlike her celebrated career, Salak, one of the best setters in the country, wanted to have a quiet exit.
“Wala akong expectations kasi, kung ano ‘yung maging result, manalo man o matalo, hindi mo naman mabe-base doon ang pagkatao ko kung e-exit man ako gusto ko ‘yung walang nakakaalam na (mag reretire na ako) walang ganito (interview),” she said.
“For me napaka-thankful ko kasi, alam niyo kung bakit? Naabutan ko ang best of both worlds eh, so from the time na 90’s, 80’s then ngayon millennial na very thankful na ako doon,” she added.
Out of all the championships, the individual awards and the recognition from fans, Salak wanted to be remembered as an inspiration.
“For me siguro sa pinagdaanan ko through the years and gusto ko lang is ma-inspire ko ang other teammates ko,” she said. “Hindi ko naman sinasabi na gawin nila ang kaya kong gawin pero ang gusto ko is kung ano ang kaya niyo, ilabas niyo.”
Salak may have ended her volleyball career but for her, life begins at 40.
She will still be with the Lady Troopers as part of the coaching staff, but she also plans to focus on other things. She will attend coaching seminars and will also hold volleyball clinics before she retires from the military in 2018.