MANILA, Philippines – The exit of the coach who implemented a “happy, happy” mantra in the Ateneo de Manila University women’s volleyball program is causing profound sadness for former Lady Eagles.
Chief among them is former star setter Jia Morado, who paid tribute to outgoing head coach Tai Bundit even as she expressed her unhappiness at his exit from the team.
“Siyempre, malungkot. He really gave a lot for the school talaga,” Morado said of Bundit, who helped the Lady Eagles reach four straight UAAP Finals, and win two titles in Seasons 76 and 77.
Bundit is set to make his exit from the Ateneo women’s volleyball team after a rocky offseason. Allegations of complaints about harsh training sessions and playing time led to the deterioration of his relationship with players, leading Ateneo athletics officials to get involved.
Accounts differ as to how Bundit’s exit came about, with a source from Ateneo insisting that it was a “parting of ways,” while Tony Boy Liao – the man who brought Bundit to Ateneo in the first place – hinting that the Thai coach was fired.
Even as Bundit and Liao meet with Ateneo officials, including university president Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ, to clarify matters, Morado already hailed the coach as someone who helped her maximize her potential.
“Ako, I would not be where I am today kung hindi niya rin ako tinuruan,” said Morado, who was part of two Ateneo championship teams but opted not to return for her final season of eligibility.
“I’m sure naman na may plano talaga si God sa kung anong mangyayari for the team and for Coach Tai,” she added. “I’m just hoping na kung saan siya dalhin, he’ll do well.”
Upon hearing that issues about difficult training sessions triggered Bundit’s exit, Morado said: “Mahirap naman talaga ang training.”
“Kahit sinong coach naman talaga, mahirap, kasi that’s how you grow. That’s how you improve,” she further said. “So… I don’t know. Maybe, iba talaga ang level ni Coach Tai, na nahihirapan ‘yung girls ngayon.”
Other former members of the Ateneo Lady Eagles are seemingly responding to these allegations on Twitter. Mich Morente, who left the school due to academic woes at the end of Season 79, cryptically tweeted: “Mahirap man, pero kinaya.”
Aerieal Patnongon, a member of their title teams in Seasons 76 and 78, also tweeted: “It was a love-hate relationship but we loved you nonetheless.”
Meanwhile, Morado said that Bundit’s exit has not changed her mind regarding possibly returning for her final year, or perhaps taking up a coaching position in the team.
“Magko-coach ba ako? Playing coach? Baka hindi,” she said.
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