Once a Golden Tigress, always a Golden Tigress.
Imee Hernandez of the UST Growling Tigresses is moving on from the collegiate ranks.
Three years after debuting for UST in the COVID-shortened UAAP Season 82 tournament and nine years after first coming to España, the 5-foot-10 middle blocker from Bulacan has decided to forego her remaining playing years to play professionally.
And Hernandez will be leaving UST with a forever grateful heart, something she made abundantly clear in a lengthy but heartful letter for the UST community, which she posted on her Instagram.
“It seems like only yesterday when a skinny little girl from Baliwag came to España, Manila, filled with uncertainty and excitement,” began Hernandez. “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.”
This connection to the UST community is certainly not lost on Hernandez, not even if she appears headed for bigger, grander things at the next level.
“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,” Hernandez continued. “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.”
Hernandez, however, neither mentioned her next team nor alluded to it in anyway, although she is being linked to the Chery Tiggo Crossovers, who recently teased five new recruits on social media.
The 22-year-old ended her emotional letter by thanking the entire black-and-gold community and asking for its continued support.
The UST community might very well oblige because, like Hernandez said, she is “forever a Golden Tigress.”
Read Hernandez's full letter here: