#ThrowbackThursday: UST Tigress alumna Mozzy Ravena on local volleyball then and now
Barry Viloria on Apr 28, 2016 07:08 PM
From receiving P350/month student-athlete allowances to playing inside the UP Gymnasium, the veteran analyst recounts the good olí days of the sport. (Photo taken from @phenoms30's Instagram account)
On Game 1 of this season’s UAAP women’s volleyball finals, we caught previous UST volleyball player and now-sportscaster Mozzy Ravena watching the match from the dugout entrance inside the Big Dome. She wasn’t analyzing the game from the panel that day, thus giving herself liberty on which squad she’d be cheering for. In a blue-and-white striped shirt, the mom of graduating Blue Eagle Kiefer Ravena went on without any free seat to sit in and just stood there next to Ateneo alumna Gretchen Ho. She watched the entire game get swept by the DLSU Lady Spikers—standing. After all, with more than 19,000 seated inside Araneta and a game tagged so as legendary, finding a comfortable place was her least concern.
“It’s very different,” Ravena began, doing a compare and contrast between the state of Philippine collegiate volleyball now and how it was before.
“Maswerte na din kami nun na yung families namin were there before to watch us at the games. Ngayon, tignan mo naman, almost 20,000 today ang pumunta, ‘di ba?”
With her personal background and association with other sports stars in her family including hubby and PBA star Bong, Ravena churns out opinion that matters to the local volleyball industry. Then Mozzy Crisologo, she only tried volleyball out in sixth grade at Colegio San Agustin in Makati—but she “didn’t like it, so I didn’t play came Grade 7.”
“In-i-invite nila ako to play for several years, but it was only in the summer onto my senior year in high school that I tried it out. I went to Maryknoll (now Miriam College)—oh, di ba, Maryknoll pa sya dati! Throwback na throwback?” she laughed.
She continued, “Pero that year, everything happened. I played for the youth team, the national team, all in one year. I thought na passionate pala talaga ako sa volleyball.”
Ravena became part of the RP Youth team in 1988 and the Seniors Team from 1988 to 1989. She entered college on full varsity scholarship at the University of Santo Tomas (UST), after impressing the school’s coach August Sta. Maria who was also her national team coach. Sta. Maria, of course, is the reputed volleyball coach to have handed España seven titles in a row from 1985 to 1991.
Ravena couldn’t help but get nostalgic of her student-athlete days.
“Our allowances then was—wag kang ma-shock, ha? Three-hundred fifty! As in P350 per month!” the former UST utility player then dissolved into laughter. “Pero happy ka na nun, free naman everything.”
The Medical Technology graduate Ravena went on about how the games were before—which were mostly held at the University of the Philippines Gymnasium, “yung maraming lines, basketball, badminton lahat ng lines!”—that talent and potential were all over despite the sport suffering low popularity.
“We had Natalie Cruz before in UST, yung parang Alyssa Valdez now,” she recounted.
“Before, it was more of showing your talent. Wala pa namang scientific achuchuchu before, di ba? Wala pang training or anything na ganito ka-scientific ngayon. Although we’ve had some—we followed Japanese books and had trainings in Thailand.”
But the difference now is just stark, if you believe Ravena, who was with Shakey’s V-League as an analyst when it started in 2004.
“When I graduated, I really stopped—totally, wala pang V-league nun, so walang career. Ngayon, swerte ang mga student-athletes off college kasi may career na sila. It’s in a different level now.”
Ravena might have ended her days of playing volleyball, only resorting to badminton now to keep her fit. But she remains obsessive over the sport as a spectator, in general, and has gone the extra mile to help out in her littlest ways. For example, she is the current president of the Varsity Alumni Association in UST where she is tasked to seek sponsors for the varsity squads. She also worked on Fastbreak, the charity volleyball game headlined by son Kiefer and Lady Eagle Alyssa Valdez last December.
The 40-something mom of three gets satisfaction over how she is able to contribute to the sport that has, in many ways, defined her life.
“I’m just happy na ganito na yung state ng volleyball natin. I really get affected about the sport, in general. Say, even if di naman talaga ako galing Ateneo or La Salle. But, you know, if it’s a big game with a big crowd, I become happy.”
“I really feel happy for the sport as it continues to grow. I was there from the beginning, nung nagsisimula palang sa V-League sa Lyceum! Or even when I was playing pa lang na walang masyadong tao na nanunuod.”
“Then it grew. Right before your eyes, nagkaroon ng UAAP sa TV, tapos yun na dahan dahan nang lumaki.”