Mika Reyes survives La Salle 3 challenge

Sunday, 31 Jul 2016
Robin Mendoza - @
Mika Reyes, now playing for F2 Logistics Cargo Movers, previous sported the famous number 3 jersey for De La Salle.

There’s always a good story behind the jersey number donned by athletes. For some, it marks a very special event in their lives, momentous occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas Day and other celebrations. For others, it signifies good luck, wealth and long and prosperous career.

But for Mika Reyes of F2 Logistics, her jersey number stands for a bigger challenge, a tremendous pressure which she needs to overcome.

And surprisingly, she passed it with flying colors.

In fact, she accomplished more than what she aimed for, and she’s now competing in a tournament where only seven Filipinas will get to see action, the 2016 FIVB Women’s Club World Championship set at the Mall of Asia Arena from Oct. 18 to 23.

Paying respect

Reyes’ story is an underdog tale.

She arrived at De La Salle University as a wide-eyed rookie who can hardly send the ball from the service box to the other end. In fact, the Lady Spikers’ mentor Ramil de Jesus mocked him in the early days of training by punishing her teammates every time she commits a service error.

And unlike other rookies, she wasn’t highly recruited. Her experience was only in the WNCAA where she played for St. Scholastica’s College with nothing but her height – and her big fighting heart – serving as her main weapons.

So when it’s time to select jersey numbers, Reyes was supposed to wear his high school jersey number – no. 2 – in a bid to continue what she started at St. Scholastica’s College.

But there’s a major problem.

A middle blocker by the name of Aby Marano was already rocking that jersey number.

Marano is no ordinary player. She is the team captain and a former Most Valuable Player whose powerful defense and colorful personality gave her the chance to establish massive followers and solid fan base – all while donning jersey no. 2.

I just can’t simply take it away from her.

The next available number is jersey no. 3, so I took it. Anyway, I’m not really choosy.

Bigger challenge

But if jersey no. 2 is considered as one of the untouchables number in La Salle, same goes for jersey no. 3. It is a jersey number considered as one of the most prestigious, one of the most iconic in La Salle history having worn by the likes of Desiree Hernandez and other former superstars.

The last person to wear it was legendary Jacqueline Alarca – a former Most Valuable Player, Best Server, Best Attacker, Best Blocker and UAAP champion.

I felt the pressure.

Jacqueline Alarca is the last player to use that jersey number. Aside from being a former MVP and campus legend, she also has so many individual awards under her belt. It’s going to be a very big shoes to fill to me.

Instead of pulling the plug on that iconic jersey number, Reyes bravely pushed it through.

She’s ready for the challenge.

She’s ready to give that jersey number a new identity.

Surviving the pressure

Reyes was true to her word.

Five years since accepting the challenge of donning La Salle’s iconic jersey no. 3, Reyes emerged with three UAAP titles – the last coming at the expense of mortal rival Ateneo de Manila in a gripping three-game showdown few months ago.

She’s also part of the highly successful F2 Logistics in the PSL, the league ambassador, tons of commercial endorsements with massive followers both here and abroad. Indeed, she’s the new face of the league and her powerful game, humble personality and megawatt smile do not fail to captivate the hearts of her fans.

Last week, she received the biggest, most prestigious distinction in her young career when she became one of the only seven local players who will campaign in the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship.

There, she will not only play against the strongest volleyball players in the world before the very eyes of her countrymen; she will also gain massive exposure that will serve as her main weapons in future international tournaments like the Southeast Asian Games, Asian Games and continental tournaments.

I may not erase or replace Alarca’s achievements for La Salle, but I think I already gave a new meaning to La Salle’s jersey no. 3.

And it wouldn’t be possible without the help of people who never left me.

Her career has been very decorated that she evolved from a wide-eyed rookie who can hardly send the ball from the service box to the other end into a world-class player in just a span of five years.

That’s what prayers can do.

That’s what hard work and dedication can do.

Yes, donning the iconic jersey no. 3 is such a major challenge.

But Mika Reyes is glad to survive it.