Devanadera will play as long as she is able

ABS-CBN Sports on May 22, 2017 08:54 PM
Devanadera will play as long as she is able
Sasa Devanadera (middle) with fellow PLDT employees and Perlas Spikers Ella de Jesus and Jem Ferrer.

For Perlas Spiker Rysabelle ‘Sasa’ Devanadera who’s turning 30 in seven months’ time, the pull of volleyball will always bewitch her like a siren call.

“I can’t turn my back on volleyball just yet,” says the articulate, multi-titled former NCAA campaigner and ace player of San Sebastian College. “I still feel I have more years to give; I will play as long as I am able.” 

Devanadera’s passion for the sport is such that she readily gave up a secure, five-year job as a cage cashier in a casino the moment Roger Gorayeb, her SSC coach, invited her to join his PLDT Home Ultera lineup for the 2015 V-League. There was no thinking needed. She says she accepted the offer right away.

She thus went on to be a part of that team’s historic sweep of the Open and Reinforced Conferences titles of the now defunct but hugely successful women’s league, which Sports Vision has replaced with the ongoing, bigger Premier Volleyball League offering a men’s competition as well in a  joint undertaking with Asics as official league partner and Mikasa as official game ball.

Her joy from playing even extends to seeing children and unknown folk a game of volleyball in the countryside, even if it is just a fleeting glimpse from the comfort of an air-conditioned bus or private vehicle during her out-of-town travels.

“How I wish the bus would stop so I could watch them longer making do with a torn net or what passes for it attached to coconut trees.”       

The volleyball bug has stayed with the youngest of four children of a retired cop from San Pablo, Laguna long after she graduated from the NCAA with four team championships and one season MVP, Best Attacker, and Best Scorer awards. The itch to play continued to rankle during the long years that, making use of her business management diploma, she worked as a Resorts World casino cage cashier.      

The five-foot-seven Devanadera says she has a lot to thank coach Gorayeb for with her inclusion on the now idle Ultra Spikers team, not the least of which was that it led her to getting a position in the consumer collection department of the giant telecommunications company.          

It has enriched her life as well with the friendship, she says, she has cultivated with teammates from other schools like Ateneo, whose Lady Blue Eagles initially overwhelmed her with their genuine warmth, niceness and down-to-earth quality.       

Superstar Alyssa Valdez and Charo Soriano provided her first real interactions with the Lady Blue Eagle on the PLDT squad, which paved the way for her having more ex-Lady Blue Eagles and consequently more friends when she later moved to the Balipure Water Defenders and now to the Perlas Spikers.       

“Even at the very beginning, these former Ateneans never made me feel that they were different from you and me,” relates Devanadera. “In fact, they are super kalog; there’s no dull moment when they are around you. They never fail to boost my confidence. Particularly, Charo is a dear. Everybody just loves her.”

In the face of highly lucrative deals players now ink left and right with ball clubs with deep pockets, Devanadera could not help but reminisce about the years that she was playing in the NCAA out of pure passion for the sport and for the love of school.       

In a clear voice that reflects the cool composure that marks her game, Devanadera makes it clear that she does not begrudge other players their million-peso contracts.

“There are a lot of super talented players and the general focus, it seems, is to link up with the school or the commercial team that will pay them the most.”      

She thinks the first overriding concern for these young players should be to go for the school or the team that will further raise the level of their game.

“But that’s only my humble opinion.”

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