In an exclusive interview with MEGA Active, Mika Reyes of the PLDT High Speed Hitters answered our burning questions about her volleyball career and mindset
Having played at a collegiate and professional level, and recognized for her talent in national and international arenas, we can say that Mika Reyes has had an eventful career so far. Since going pro, the 28-year-old has been in five club teams, with her current home being the PLDT High Speed Hitters where she’s the team captain and Middle Blocker.
Mika has also served as captain of the Philippine women’s volleyball national team in 2017 for the Asian Championship and Southeast Asian (SEA) Games that year. And it wasn’t too long ago when Mika was called back to train for and play in the SEA Games again this May. Though no longer a part of it this year because of her participation in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL), she’s still supportive of the team’s current lineup.
But where did this passion for volleyball come from? Mika recalled to MEGA Active that her initial interest came in high school—Saint Scholastica’s College—when plenty of her friends made the varsity team and coaches were interested in her for her height. “But when I came to realize I could help my parents further in college by getting into an athletic scholarship program, that’s when I got more serious about training,” she shared. “Next thing I know, I was already in La Salle and the rest was history.”
Being a DLSU Lady Spiker also came with plenty of opportunities for her and her batch, so it was a “no-brainer” for Mika to continue playing volleyball as a job alongside her friends. “I opted to play professionally because volleyball is at its peak and we won’t always be ‘young’ enough to play, so I’m just maximizing everything there is I can maximize in my time in PH volleyball,” she added.
And maximize she did. According to Mika, the best parts about being a volleyball player are the opportunities, from networks and platforms to endorsements. “When I started playing, all I wanted was to help my parents get me through college. I didn’t imagine there would be so many opportunities, recognition, support, and overflowing blessings that come with being a volleyball player in my time,” she said.
Continuing, Mika said, “Opportunities like networks, platforms, and endorsements helped me and my family in so many ways, but of course, that’s the bigger picture—the wins outside the game. Other than these, siyempre I will always consider all the championships as highlights of my career, plus having bannered a PH jersey internationally with the national team a couple of times.”
But like with any other job, there are challenges unique to the position. Mika shed light on some of her struggles, saying that one of the most persistent challenges to being a professional volleyball player is the pressure of having to deliver each and every time. “Of course, we do the same thing everyday. We train and we train [for] so long, but it’s as if we can’t get tired kasi it’s our job to perform our best. We do the same thing everyday, but it’s always a challenge to constantly improve because the Philippine volleyball landscape continues to evolve and adapt internationally,” she explained.
On that note, Mika added that it gets harder to go pro nowadays, with high school and college teams becoming even more competitive, resulting in young and talented graduates every year. “We have to remain physically conditioned and maintain playing like we’re in our prime,” she went on to say.
Facing competition, it makes sense that professional athletes train as much as they do. For Mika and her team, she said they train six days a week and sometimes, twice a day, which includes ball training and weights training. But outside game days and training, the High Speed Hitter finds time for team bondings, family time, and self-care, too.
According to Mika, it’s very important for teams to bond and get to know each other off-court. For her team, bonding time can just be about eating together, doing TikToks, or going to each other’s places. Besides that, Mika makes sure to spend time with her family in her free time since the opportunity doesn’t come often. And when she feels tired, she said she pampers herself as much as she can by getting a massage or a facial.
“I always keep in mind na I can’t forget about myself kasi my body and my mind work so hard for me para kayanin ‘yung everyday training and games, so I should make the effort to relax and unwind as much as I can,” she continued to say.
With professional sports being such a lucrative industry, there are hundreds of aspiring players hoping to go pro each year. Reflecting on her own journey to the PVL, Mika has sound advice for those aspiring to get into professional volleyball.
“When I was younger, we didn’t have all the means to become strong. It was very basic before, pero luckily, we reached this point. Now, the young players can learn so much from what they watch [and] can even enroll in several skills programs or training. Pero of course, hindi naman lahat kaya, so I would suggest just play a lot of volleyball. You learn more when you play more kasi you learn from the game [and] from the opponents. But of course, as much as possible, get proper training so you can be healthy enough to get to greater heights. Sabi nga nila, ‘hard work works,’ so always put in the necessary work to improve yourself.”
And finally, to end the interview, Mika gave a message to her supporters. She said, “To all my supporters and everyone who supports and are part of Philippine Volleyball, maraming salamat po sa love and support since day one. Our industry continues to grow, the players continue to work hard and improve, and young people aspire more to become volleyball players dahil nakikita naming lahat gaano kasarap masuportahan ninyo kaya maraming salamat. This year, lalaban na naman po tayo para sa SEA Games. Kailangan po ulit namin ang inyong suporta at sabay-sabay natin ipag-pray ang medal for Philippines. We love you Philippine volleyball fans! See you at the games!”
Photos: MIKA REYES (via Instagram)