Moments made for Mika
Mika Reyes anxiously sat in on the final presser for last month’s Asian Women’s Club Championship in the gilded function room of Shiny River Hotel in Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan.
Team officials earlier told her “to learn the ropes” from team captain Rachel Anne Daquis, who was seated in the presidential table alongside her fellow skippers from the other participating clubs.
After all, Reyes had just been named skipper of the Southeast Asian Games squad this August.
“Sir,” she whispered as she sidled up to this writer who was seated at the back of the room, “how do I answer when a reporter asks a question that I don’t want to answer?”
Now we weren’t sure if that had something to do with the press conference, or if it pertained to our query just two days back. Upon arriving in the Kazakh city after a 35-hour journey from Manila, we had asked the former La Salle star about her appointment as captain of the star-studded squad that also included her college rival from Ateneo, Alyssa Valdez.
A late-bloomer in volleyball, Reyes took up the sport in her freshman year at St. Scholastica’s College in Manila. Born in Pulilan, Bulacan, she now lives in Sta Cruz, Manila.
The eldest in a brood of three, Reyes, who turns 23 this Wednesday, broke into the limelight as the top middle blocker of the UAAP champion Lady Spikers. She went on to join the country’s teams in last year’s World and Asian Club Championships, both held in Manila.
For her outstanding achievements last season, the Philippine Sportswriters Association picked her as the 2016 women’s volleyball awardee, a distinction more affectionately referred to as Miss Volleyball.
“All I wanted was to be part of the national team, so I was overwhelmed when I learned I will be team captain,” said Reyes, who snagged the post because, according to national coach Francis Vicente, she “is very coachable and relates very well with her teammates.”
The 6-foot head-turner with the winsome smile and ramrod-straight posture didn’t become a franchise player overnight.
There was a time when Reyes thought she was too awkward and too tall to be an athlete. And she wore thick eyeglasses.
“My eyes have a grade of 350,” she bared while strolling around Ataturk Airport in Istanbul during a 15-hour layover. “I wear contacts during games.”
Clearly, the soft-spoken middle spiker can easily get comfortable with adoring fans and sports writers. She belongs to an elite breed of local volleyball stars who command multimillion-peso annual salaries and snag lucrative product endorsements.
Unfortunately, just like any other household name in sports, Reyes is also fair game to online bashers and trolls. Personal attacks, she says, are often too vicious that she prefers not to dignify the bashing with a reply.
That’s most probably the reason why she takes special care not to say something that could stir the proverbial hornet’s nest. And that explains, quite plainly, why she asked this reporter that question in Kazakhstan.
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