Call it a farce or a ploy, but Alyssa Valdez has always kept a smile on her face no matter what challenge she faces.
Whether it be in a UAAP Finals game against the De La Salle University, an international tournament in a Pilipinas jersey, or an all-important match for a club, Valdez’s megawatt smile and happy demeanor have calmed both her teammates and fans in challenging situations.
But now Valdez enters what she describes as the most challenging part of her career. On January 19, the three-time UAAP MVP will make her debut as an import for Thai club 3BB Nakornonnt. She will make history yet again, becoming the first local women’s volleyball player to play as a reinforcement for a foreign club team.
Valdez admitted that she couldn’t help but let doubt and uncertainty creep in heading into her campaign for 3BB.
“You really just can’t help but think and also be nervous,” Valdez told Tiebreaker Times.
“I’ve been so used to playing here sa atin — sa UAAP, sa V-League, or sa National Team – and this the first time in a long time na hindi ako sure with many things na pwedeng mangyari.”
From her role on a new team to the playing atmosphere in Thailand, everything will be new for The Phenom.
Wherever she played here, the crowd has always been on Valdez’s side. She’s faced and played with all the best players and teams the Philippines has to offer, collecting countless awards along the way.
Playing in Thailand marks Valdez’s desire for personal growth. In a way, she’s pushing herself out of her comfort zone to see how far she can get in volleyball.
“Sa 3BB, I’m still not sure kung ano ba talaga ang role ko sa team – if magagamit ba ako ng matagal or what. So I’m just really preparing myself to do my best and learn as much as I can while I’m there,” she shared.
“Everything talaga is going to be new for me and it’s exciting at the same time gusto mo lang talaga gawin ang best mo.”
Part of Valdez’s motivation to push through with playing in Thailand was seeing how brave her Thai teammates – Nic Jaisaen and Som Kuthaisong – were when they played in the Philippines for the BOC Transformers.
“Both of them were really young pa talaga but they already had so much bravery and confidence to go to a different country and play. Kaya ako, I was very motivated by them talaga to be brave and take on challenges,” the 23-year-old Batangas native expressed.
From here on in her career, Valdez’s motivation lies in continuous personal growth, which she hopes she can bring home here and translate into the development of our fledgling volleyball scene.
“I’ve always dreamed of playing in Europe – that’s a big goal for me talaga. I realize na malayo pa talaga for me para maabot ‘yun so I have to start now and continue reaching for it.
“And I really also want to bring everything I learned back here and teach to those na gusto ‘rin maabot ‘yung napuntahan ko. I hope kasi na more players will get the opportunity to play outside the country. If I can help someone get there, sobrang saya ko na doon,” she added.
In her usual humble way, Valdez laughed off any talk of her legacy as the best player to ever play for the Philippines.
For now, she has her eyes on her goals – the lofty goals that only she has ever dared chase.
And while she may be in Thailand, her mind is still very much focused on the immediate future of local volleyball.
“I really want to play for the National Team talaga this year. Whatever it takes, I want to make that happen because the country will always be my top priority,” the multi-time MVP said.
Where Valdez is now is uncharted territory for local volleyball players. Luckily, Valdez has always found her way wherever she’s gone.