One Saturday Afternoon
It was sunny and rainy at the same time. But nope, not even the bipolar weather could stop them from coming.
Why not, yesterday was the closest any loyal supporter could ever get to his or her favorite boys and girls. No need to get Patron tickets. No need to wait outside the arena for hours after the game just to see them closely. No need to battle with the Orange bouncers just to get near.
One just had to go to the Blue Eagle Gym, bring a pen and paper or a camera, and fall in line.
And when we say fall in line, we’re talking about some really LONG LINE.
In fact, Roma, a fan from Montalban, Rizal, went to the Blue Eagle Gym at 8:00 in the morning just to be sure they’d be the first to arrive.
“Mga 5:00 pa lang po, gising na ako kasi malayo pa kami. Nag-decide po kami ng friend ko na agahan kasi nga marami po talagang pupunta. Tapos noong kami pa lang po ang andoon, naisip ko, ‘Wow, kami pa lang talaga ang nandito!’”
Ms. @Alyssanity_02, on the other hand, arrived at the Blue Eagle Gym at 11 in the morning, and there were already a bunch of fans anticipating to get inside as early as 8:00.
“Kasi in-expect na namin na madaming tao. Syempre, mas gusto namin na nasa una. Saka wala pa akong pic with Ly na maayos."
Waiting was not a big deal, according to her, because she got her friends, most of them she just met through this volleyball fandom, to spend the waiting game with that morning.
"Super laking tulong kasi chikahan lang kami tungkol sa Finals Game 4, tapos pati mga sacrifices namin para makanood at makapunta sa Meet and Greet. Kung paano nagkakaubusan ng allowance para makabili ng ticket. Ako po, may family gathering dapat kami pero inuna ko pa ang meet and greet. Hehe.”
Who cared about the lines, though, when they knew, in mind and in heart, that waiting for hours outside was worth it: It was all for the Ateneo Men’s and Women’s Volleyball Teams.
It was around past 2:00 when they opened the gates for the fans. The kids from the Ateneo Volleyball Camp and their families were already in, since the awarding ceremonies of the camp would happen before the Meet and Greet.
Imagine how the crowd went wild when the Ateneo Lady Eagles entered the gym. (Me and my camera weren’t even ready. Char.)
The girls and boys went around when they got in, exchanged a bunch of laughs, giggled in between conversations, and toyed around like any other college students.
The program came in shortly as it was also the culminating activity for the volleyball camp.
Some kids from the camp were awarded by no less than their idols. No doubt, they’re lucky.
After the awarding ceremonies, the girls and boys were asked to settle down. There were two tables on the court - one for the men’s team and the other, for the women’s team.
The campers were the first to line up for photos and autograph signing. And in just a snap, kids on white-shirts-with-black-ink-stains were giddily going around the court.
And while the kids were having the time of their lives, the ever loyal fans were there, patiently waiting. They might be tired, stressed, and bored, and they might be battling the whole day against the heat and the crowd, but all for their favorite players, they whole-heartedly waited. All for the love.
Imagine their joy when it was their turn.
Men and women, young and old. No doubt.
The Ateneo teams are well-loved.
Seriously, it was dragging and tiring, being stuck in long, disorganized lines inside a crowded gym, with some even sneaking in just to get ahead.
But when you were right there, in front of them, with one minute or two to be just close to them, with a photo bonus and a signature, you’ll realize that, at the end of the day, it was ALL WORTH IT.
“Sobrang saya. As in! Nawala 'yong pagod lalo na noong nakapagpa-pic ako kay Ly,” shares Ms. @Alyssanity_02.
Even Roma, who waited at the gym for almost seven hours just to get a glimpse of her favorites, agrees, “Sobrang sulit naman po kasi nakita po namin ang idols namin.”
But nope, it’s not only the fans who were celebrating. The players, too, were more than delighted to have spent time with those who stayed with them through every win and loss.
Star player Michelle Morente shares how good it was to see everybody that afternoon.
“Sobrang sarap ng feeling na dumayo pa sila dito para lang makita kami. Sobrang na aappreciate namin silang lahat. Pero i feel bad sa ibang hindi nakapasok. Kasi alam ko naman ang layo pa ng pinanggalingan nila. Tapos ayun hindi sila nakapasok. Medyo nalungkot ako sa part na 'yon.”
And while they could only wish everyone could be accommodated, she was still thankful to all those who went out of their way to see them.
“Pero all in all naman. Sobrang saya kasi nameet ko na rin yung mga taong sumosuporta samin ng sobra sobra. Sobrang thankful talaga kami.”
It was a Saturday like no other. It may just be a simple signature on a piece of paper, a smiley on a worn out shirt, and a lucky-you-if-it-wasn’t-blurred photo.. but the smiles exchanged between the players and the fans were priceless.
That Saturday, indeed, was an exchange of thank-you’s.
From the players, who are forever thankful to their fans who never fail to support them in whatever way they can, against all odds.
And from the fans, who are forever thankful to their idols for inspiring them, without them, knowing.
That day, one thing was certain.
The players and the supporters bring out the best in each other.
And this friendship just became stronger through this meet and greet.
Thank you, girls and boys, for spending time with us.
We hope you know you made a lot of people happy. :)
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