Outside the Locker Room: Of opportunities and resilience
What does an athlete do to become legendary? Is it making a buzzer-beater shot in basketball? Or having a double-triple point in a game? For some athletes maybe yes, but nothing is as mesmerizing as overcoming an injury then being able to inspire others—now that is a feat!
Nothing is scarier than suffering an injury for an athlete. With just one particular accident, it can end an entire dream. It is not only the pain that they are experiencing, but the result that comes after. Some may beat the odds and are able to return to the court better than ever, but others may never step on the field again.
While many withstand these darkest moments, let us witness a story who used an injury as a catalyst for inspiring others.
The Onset of a Dream
John Edward L. Mira who is a respected player in Taytay had encountered an injury that unexpectedly shaped his entire career.
Growing up in a family of volleyball players, Mira’s love for the sports was not new—to say the least. In sixth grade, he played as a setter which became his bread and butter for the sport.
He was introduced by her sister to his Coach Alex and became part of their high school team. However, it does not guarantee him a leeway for an easy spot on the squad.
Despite the skills he has, he was not directly chosen as the main playmaker. After a year of training and waiting patiently for his time to come, his dreams of being a setter was ultimately shattered after younger and more skillful setter entered the team. This led him to think of the possibility of being a spiker.
He was at the peak of his career during his last playing year as a high student where he had to play as a wing spiker and bearing the responsibilities of being the co-captain of their team.
During one tournament, their ace spiker was heavily injured and they were in a bridge of losing their spot in the competition. It was then, his mentors, Coach Alex and Coach Serrano instructed the words, “Wag kang papayag na uuwi kang talo, tandaan mo yun lahat ng hirap mo makarating lang dito.”
Those words struck him and made him want to work harder to win. He made sure that it was their point whenever the ball was sent to him. Sadly, they never made it to the finals.
With Mira’s skills and dedication to win the gold during the playoffs, he was able to get the attention of collegiate scouts. However, due to the heartbreak of losing in his final year in high school, he turned them down.
Until when the scouts contacted Mira’s coach to convince him to join the tryouts. Still unmotivated but he accepted the offer—and the rest was history.
In the summer of 2006, he was able to claim a spot for San Sebastian College – Recoletos, first as a reserve player then finally became part of the official lineup.
The summer league in Antipolo City was the turning point that crushed his dreams and hard work.
Really, accidents come when you least expect it. Mira got injured after a pole crashed his shoulder as he held on to the net in the wake of losing balance mid-air.
This unfortunate event caused him to hiatus of 5-8 months and was forced to leave San Sebastian even before his NCAA debut.
Mira is driven by his passion to play the sport that he loves, he tried to rise above the injury and play again but this time, fate did not let him. He was disturbed by the excessive pain once more, which ultimately led him to quit completely—or so he taught.
After six years of not playing, volleyball still doesn’t want him to stop. Memories came flooding in as he saw videos of his former teammates which led him to reconnect not just to the sport but to the whole volleyball community.
The impetus of One’s Journey
As he slowly creeps his way back in the volleyball scene, he noticed how a lot of young athletes would shy away from those who are more experienced and skilled.
Mira took it upon himself to encourage young players to show no fear while in the court. He shared his experiences with them and invited them to play with his former teammates—little did he know he got to build his own team called “Teen All-Stars”.
As the group became bigger, many universities started to take notice of the talent that Mira was able to find. This motivated him to cultivate more younger players that led him to create a family rather than a team. The group was then called VolleyFriends Family (VFFam).
It was their goal that they conduct a league once a month. And as their leagues become more and more successful, commercial teams, as well as former and current UAAP and NCAA players would join their leagues and witness the community that Mira was able to build.
The triumph for Mira was not the outcome of every league they organized, but how the players turned out to be, as he said, “Ang highest achievement ko ay yung makita na yung ibang mga players na dating takot at mahiyain. Ngayon naglalaro na sa UAAP and NCAA. And sa tuwing nakikita nila ako, pinapafeel nila yung respect and pasasalamat nila sa kung ano man ang naitulong ko.”
Now, he is enjoying his life as a senior high school teacher and a college professor. He firmly believes that there is genuine happiness in teaching the same way he believed in those shy young athletes.
Edward Mira is one of the many persons that became a bridge to a lot of young, aspiring players we have now. As J. Lynn said, “Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place.” The injury that Mira had encountered does not mean that his career was over, but it was to point him to his true purpose.