UST Imee Hernandez and Eya Laure have said goodbye to UST. UAAP photos

UST mainstays Laure, Hernandez set to turn pro

May 27, 2023 Theodore P. Jurado 180 views

EYA Laure and Imee Hernandez, two of University of Santo Tomas’ women’s volleyball standouts, have decided to forego their remaining UAAP eligibility to turn pro.

A Season 81 Rookie of the Year who teamed up with Sisi Rondina in the Tigresses’ runner-up finish in 2019, open Laure actually still has one more year.

But the moment has come for Laure to end her 12-year stay with UST, where she rose to fame by anchoring the Junior Tigresses to a Season 76 title in 2014.

“Napakaraming nangyari sa loob ng labing dalawang taon na ‘yun. Inabot na ako ng K-12, pati pandemic dito ko na hinarap at nalagpasan. Napakaraming heartbreaks. Maraming beses na natalo sa games. At napakaraming lessons. Pero ang paborito ko sigurong natutunan ay kung paano magmahal. Dahil sa UST. Dahil sa Thomasian community. Dahil sa supporters ng team,” Laure posted through her social media accounts Thursday night.

After the Tigresses were eliminated in the Season 85 Final Four race, the España faithful were hoping for Laure to have another shot at the elusive championship.

“Kaya siguro up until the last minute, I wanted to find a way to play for one more year. Para akong nakikipag-break sa libu-libong tao and my heart is shattering into pieces. Ang sakit at ang hirap mag mapaalam,” Laure said.

“Patawad dahil hindi ko naibigay yung championship na deserve niyo. But more than that, salamat.

Parang sasabog ang dibdib ko sa sobrang laki ng pasasalamat na meron ako sa inyo,” she added.

A grateful Laure has nothing but praises to her supporters who boosted her in every game through highs and lows.

“Salamat UST. Yun ang salita na lagi lalabas sa bibig ko simula ng pag tapak ko sa school na to hanggang sa moment na I have to say goodbye sa school na sinamahan ako at hindi din ako sinukuan kahit anong mangyare. Kundi dahil sainyo hindi ko siguro maabot ang mga pangarap ko,” Laure said.

“To the UST Community, salamat at pinakita niyo ulit sa amin ang Sea of Yellow. Walang makakapantay na suporta ang pinakita niyo at lakas ng mga sigaw niyo. Thank you kasi bumalik kayo at nagtiwala sa team. Sobrang mamimiss ko marinig ang ‘Go Uste!’ habang naglalaro. Kasama niyo na ako ngayon,” she added.

“Lagi niyo akong pinupuri dahil sabi niyo mahal na mahal ko ang UST. Pero sana malaman niyo na kayo ang nagturo sa akin nun.”

The 24-year old Laure vowed to support the Tigresses by cheering at the stands all the way.

“Pangako, kahit saan man ako mapadpad, bitbit ko ang pagmamahal niyo. No goodbyes. Just see you again,” Laure said.

“I will forever be your Kapitana Eya Laure. Kasama niyong sisigaw ng Go USTe hanggang dulo,” she added.

Hernandez, who like Laure was a part of the highly successful Junior Tigresses program, shocked the UST community by leaving despite having three seasons of left on her eligibility.

Before Laure, Hernandez first posted her decision to leave the Tigresses on social media.

“It seems like only yesterday when a skinny little girl from Baliwag came to España, Manila, filled with uncertainty and excitement. But that was way back in 2014. My knowledge of the game, which eventually changed the course of my life, was very simple. I had nothing to offer, yet you embraced me without hesitation. You saw in me the potential I never recognized. This community believed in me, and because of your unwavering love and support throughout the years, I reached new heights and achieved many personal goals,” Hernandez said.

“That is why this, by far, is the hardest letter I’ve ever written. UST community, you have been with me through all the battles and I am forever grateful. Now that I am done with my studies, with you by my side, I am more than ready to face the bigger challenges that lie ahead as I continue to pursue my passion for the game of volleyball on a grander stage and under brighter lights. I have decided to go professional,” the middle blocker added.

“If only I could express each and every one of you who supports the black and gold how difficult this decision is for me. UST is a place that will never be easy to part with, not just for me but for most of us athletes who remain here as well. However, I feel it in my heart that I must take this step for my own growth not just as an athlete, but as an individual. I pray that with this decision, you guys will continue to support me all the way.”