April 14, 2024

PVL | Bea De Leon bares heart in move to Creamline: ‘I feel like I need to grow again’

PVL | Bea De Leon bares heart in move to Creamline: ‘I feel like I need to grow again’
Art by Jenah Crucena, One Sports

From "one day" to Day One

Back in February 2013, Bea de Leon posted a photo along with DLSU Lady Spiker Michele Gumabao. BDL was wearing a white La Salle shirt, while MG was in her jersey.

"One day, I will play at Araneta with her in front of a thousand people, doing what I love to do. #Gumabao #AN1MO,” de Leon tweeted.

They took different paths, as de Leon suited up for the Ateneo Lady Eagles, and eventually went pro with the Choco Mucho Flying Titans.

But eleven years after that tweet, BDL is a lot closer to manifesting that dream as she switches her colors from that of the Choco Mucho Flying Titans to the Creamline Cool Smashers.

 

Who wouldn’t want a photo with MG?

The 5-foot-9 dynamo racked up back-to-back Best Blocker blocker awards in the UAAP, as well as back-to-back titles in UAAP Seasons 73 and 74. In Season 75, she won Finals MVP to complete De La Salle's three-peat under coach Ramil De Jesus.

Bea was paying attention.

“In 2013, at that time, some people might know that my whole family was La Sallian so I grew up cheering for La Salle… basketball, and when volleyball came about, [it was] all La Salle for me,” she shared with One Sports.

“And so watching them, she (Gumabao) was obviously on the other side of the court. And at that time, I was lucky enough kasi kakilala ng kuya ko 'yung courtside reporter ng La Salle noon, si Ate Billie Capistrano. Ayun, she gave me the privilege to have a picture with Ate MG.”

“At that time, I was just starting to consider playing and ayun, it was something that I didn’t think would happen at all. Given all the things that happened. I played for Ateneo, Choco Mucho… it was something I thought was just up in the air until it happened,” De Leon added.

 

COOL SMASHER

BDL joins a Creamline team that went undefeated in the PVL's Second All-Filipino Conference.  The Cool Smashers ironically beat De Leon and the Flying Titans. and now BDL makes the jump to the other Rebisco team for arguably her biggest volleyball decision yet.

Why their sister team though?

“Knowing myself, I felt that it’s a better fit and also in terms of the system. I also want to be back in a place where I can really just think of myself first,” de Leon said.

“Nothing shady," she made sure to note, "Just that I knew that I needed so much work to do and I felt that I’m gonna be able to catch up on that here.”

De Leon will now have an opportunity to learn from Gumabao, who was recenly named Best Opposite Spiker. Of course, MG was among the most feared middle blockers in her time in the UAAP, there's some opportunities to pass on knowledge in there.

  

“I like it here because it’s very competitive, it’s very welcoming, it’s very enjoyable. Every training is competitive in a very very fun way which I really love,” De Leon expressed.

“Everyone is helping you out. I’m surrounded by veterans, I’m not the one that’s having to carry that load. Not to say that Choco Mucho wasn’t like that but I just like receiving it now again because I feel like I need to grow again.”

There was one thing in particular BDL wanted to get better at.

“I would definitely want to improve my blocking. With Ate MG and Ate Ly, I think it’s gonna be a big deal for me,” she said.

 

‘Para akong nakipag-break’

It wasn’t an easy decision for de Leon to leave Choco Mucho, a team she spent four years in. As team captain, she was there during the ups and the downs, and it seems only fitting her last conference with the team ended up with a silver, their best finish ever in the PVL.

“Leaving was hard,” de Leon admitted. “The decision for myself was easier to make.”

“Whenever I think of having to leave them, the whole team–I’ve found a family–ang dami naming pinagdaanan together. It was the only thing that was stopping me from leaving.”

De Leon recalled some of the fondest memories she had with the squad, noting how Des Cheng “changed the whole setting” of the team, how Aduke Ogunsanya always made her laugh for being so “funny in a very natural, very clumsy way.”

“If sila ‘yung iisipin ko, I might have not really…" she paused as she touched her chest.

"My heart for them is so big,” de Leon motioned. “It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve made.”

“Para akong nakipag-break.”

 

The Eagles' nest grows bigger

It was a “big, big, big factor” for de Leon that she was able to reunite with her Ateneo Lady Eagles teammates from Season 77 such as Alyssa Valdez, Ella de Jesus, Jia De Guzman, and Denden Lazaro-Revilla.

“Both of them were the ones who guided us,” de Leon said, referring to de Jesus and Valdez, even de Guzman who now plays in Japan. “As a rookie, (I) had a lot to learn on the court on off the court. One of the reasons why I was able to accomplish whatever little I did in the past few years was because of them.”

Now, de Leon was wearing Valdez’s shirt during training. She didn’t have anything pink to wear yet and her new captain had plenty. This one just happened to have Valdez's jersey number two at the back.

Maybe she would get the number two now, de Leon joked, hugging Alyssa Valdez’s shoulders.

Valdez side-eyed her in jest, “Okay lang,” chuckling.