Tina Salak – the living legend of local volleyball – will be making a grand return to power a young Cocolife squad in the Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix starting Oct. 21 at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
After spending the past couple of conferences as assistant coach, Salak decided to dust off her sneakers and suit up in the season-ending conference of the country’s most prestigious club league.
Cocolife team official Joshua Ylaya said Salak will be bringing in a lot of intangibles, especially the leadership and experience that the Asset Managers badly need.
Ylaya, a former member of the De La Salle University men’s volleyball team, added that they are looking forward to having the 41-year old legend in their squad as they try to surpass the fifth-place finish they had in the PSL All-Filipino Conference.
“Coach Tina really wants to help us this conference so she’s un-retiring to provide leadership and experience on the floor.”
“Everybody is looking forward to play with her, especially our leaders in Michele and Denden. They want to experience how it feels to compete with a legendary setter in coach Tina.”
Ylaya said Salak has stepped down as assistant coach to head coach Kungfu Reyes so she can focus more on setting the plays for the Asset Managers inside the court.
“Of course, iba ang feeling ng tumutulong ka (sa team) on the court and off the court. In this case, coach Tina decided that it would be better that she wil help us inside the court.”
Change of heart
The history of Philippine volleyball wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Salak’s name.
After emerging with a silver medal in the Southeast Asian Games in Chiang Mai in 1995, Salak rose to stardom, becoming the country’s chief playmaker.
Her last SEA Games medal was in 2005 when the country hosted the biennial meet in Bacolod City.
Since then, she powered Philippine Army to a handful of unforgettable campaigns, especially in the early stretch of the PSL where the Lady Troopers won the league’s first three titles.
She was also with the Lady Troopers when they clobbered the juniors national team of Thailand in the finals of the PSL Invitational Conference, a momentous victory since it was the first time for the Philippines to prevail over the Thais since the gold medal match of the Singapore SEA Games in 1993.
Last year, Salak hung up her jersey to chase a new dream – coaching.
Aside from Cocolife, she was also assigned as head coach of the De La Salle Zobel girls’ team in the juniors division of the UAAP. But playing competitive volleyball is simply irresistible.
“Coach Tina wants to apologize for having change of heart and failing to live up to her word of retiring from volleyball.”
“She’s a competitor, a grizzled warrior. She wants to help her team at any way she can so she decided to play again.”
Ylaya admitted he has no idea if this will be Salak’s swan song, an encore performance to a very colorful career.
But one thing is sure: ‘Tina Legend’ will play her heart out to give Cocolife its first PSL crown.