In recent weeks, the volleyball community has been abuzz with rumors about the future of UAAP champion and DLSU star libero, Justine Jazareno.
Would she be leaving the hallowed halls of La Salle for new horizons? The volleyball community was rife with speculations, and now, the news is out - Akari, the upstart team in the PVL, has confirmed that Jazareno Jazareno will be their latest addition to an already formidable lineup.
Jazareno is poised to join the ranks of renowned players like Dindin Santiago-Manabat, Faith Nisperos, Bang Pineda, and her former DLSU teammate, Fifi Sharma. Their collective goal: to conquer the upcoming PVL this October with a level of determination that promises to redefine the competition.
Yet, beneath the excitement and anticipation lies a heartfelt dilemma. After an outstanding UAAP season with the Lady Spikers, a season that saw them dethrone the defending champions, NU, the DLSU faithful yearn for Jazareno's return to defend the title in Season 86. However, Jazareno's primary objective transcends sports glory.
"Of course, it was really hard for me to decide, knowing the fact that the Lasallian community has been my family since I was a child, from Lasalle all the way to college. Actually, it took me months to figure out what I need for myself and to help my family. Plus, this has been an eye-opener that this might be the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone. I can say that I really took time to think about it and weighed my priorities to help me come up with this decision."
Despite her departure, Jazarenopledges to carry the indomitable Animo spirit with her into the professional arena.
"This is something that will never leave me, which includes discipline, respect, perseverance, and a champion's heart."
Her attributes may be just what the Akari Chargers need to ascend to greater heights. Their recruitment strategy this year has been nothing short of aggressive. Securing talents like Faith Nisperos and Fifi Sharma before signing Jazareno demonstrates their commitment to assembling a team that combines youthful vigor with unshakable character and championship experience. This melding of new and seasoned players has all the makings of a championship formula.
Asked about her venture with Akari, Jazareno's eyes sparkle with excitement.
"I am super excited to be part of the Akari Chargers, and I am looking forward to more bonding and learning from the team. During my first training with them, I felt a bit nervous, as it's a new team, but at the same time, I'm excited because the environment is new. However, I have adjusted well with the team because they welcomed me warmly."
Starting anew can be daunting, but for Jazareno, this chapter represents a refreshing departure from her comfort zone.
"I am truly honored to have trained under Coach Ramil De Jesus. His system is deeply ingrained in me. I believe that this change of environment will provide me with additional knowledge and understanding of volleyball and, of course, life outside of volleyball, as he taught us more than just the game. I've learned a lot from Coach Ramil and other coaches, which has shaped me into who I am today. I look forward to learning from more father and mother figures or anyone among our coaches and management because that's how it is in sports—you treat your team as family, and you learn from them. That's what I cherish most about being an athlete—the transformation of character for the better."
As teams meticulously prepare for the upcoming season's last conference, Akari ensures the well-being of its players. Fans are eagerly anticipating the emergence of more PVL rookies who will shine in the professional ranks. Yet, for Jazareno, this isn't a farewell to her La Sallian roots; it's a "see you later" as she embarks on this new chapter.
"I would like to thank the Lasallian community who have been there since Day 1. No one can compare to how supportive and caring you all are! I may have left the DLSU community, but my heart will always belong to the alma mater. Once a Lady Spiker, always a Lady Spiker! I hope to still see and hear them cheer for me and Fifi in the PVL. And, of course, to my Virtual Playground family, I want to express my gratitude for welcoming me into their team. I've felt more guided and taken care of since they embraced me into their big family and had my back. It's quite different in the pros; having agents and pros to guide you is truly an advantage."