Ateneo’s star player Alyssa Valdez led the four winners of University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 78 Athletes of the Year award during the closing ceremonies held at the Ang Bahay ng Alumni inside the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
Valdez, a three-time Most Valuable Player winner in the women’s volleyball competition, said she is thankful to share the spotlight with other co-Athletes of the Year winners Olympian Ian Lariba of La Salle, swimmer Jessie King Lacuna of Ateneo and softball player Queeny Sababo of Adamson University.
“I’m just really thankful that they gave me this kind of blessings,” said Valdez, who steered Ateneo to two titles. “Honestly, I didn’t expect that I would win an award like this. All opponents are deserving to win the Athlete of the Year trophy.”
It was the first time that the UAAP organization has handed the awards to four student-athletes.
Valdez, 22, who clinched the 2008-09 UAAP junior athlete of the year award while playing for University of Santo Tomas high school team, said the award would make her strive harder for the next chapter of her life as an athlete.
Valdez will be playing in Shakey’s V-League for Bali Pure team. She was also the team captain when the Philippines made a return in the Southeast Asian Games women’s volleyball competition in Singapore last year.
For her part, Lariba made history by becoming the first Philippine table tennis player to qualify in the Olympics after landing on 11th place during the International Table Tennis Federation Asia Olympic Qualifying Games last April in Hong Kong.
Lariba was unbeaten in her five-year UAAP stint for La Salle.
Sabobo led the Lady Falcons to a sixth straight title in softball, while Lacuna powered the Blue Eagles to back-to-back title runs in men’s swimming, aside from their remarkable achievements in international play.
JOSEF T. RAMOS