Behind the camera, behind the curtains.
Behind superb players, behind a grandiose team.
Behind a remarkable era, behind noteworthy runs.
Behind all of these, is an amazing man.
A mentor. A father. A friend.
4 Finals Appearance, 2 UAAP championship trophies, a Back-to-Back title.
As he steps down as Ateneo’s head coach, let’s revisit the road this amazing man journeyed, and unravel the depth beyond Happy, Unity, Heartstrong.
UAAP Season 75 padlocked the curtains of an era.
Season 76 was the commencement of a newfangled one. No Fab Five. No Roger Gorayeb. Rebuilding team. Young players. Rookies. New system. New coach.
A whole new Ateneo Lady Eagles.
But to everyone’s bombshell, and to the blue community’s delight in a nutshell, new heroes soared and glided to live up with the Ateneo way – exerting all that it takes for the one big fight.
Started from the very base of all bottoms, the Katipunan-based squad hardly climbed series of ladders to position themselves onto the top, prevailing over all pains Season 76 had to offer. The Ateneo Lady Eagles had to beat powerhouse teams in the stepladder semi-finals, and clashed everything out for the championship. Dubbed as the underdogs, the blue-blooded squad proved speculations wrong, dominating rival De La Salle University who had a thrice to beat advantage, and then thrice beaten. This made them kiss their first championship trophy in UAAP volleyball grounds. And the main chauffeur of that perfectly-sculpted Cinderella run? The new head coach. The driver of the wheel. The Anusorn Tai Bundit.
All the way from Thailand, Coach Tai Bundit brought a lot of skills, talent, and brainpower into Ateneo’s system. He was once a National Team member and the coach of Thailand’s junior national team. Coach Tai has produced top-caliber talents in his country. He became the head coach of the Ateneo Women’s Volleyball Team upon the departure of Coach Roger Gorayeb. He is presently the head coach of the Premiere Volleyball League club team, Creamline Cool Smashers. No doubt, this man is certainly the man! Carrying the team to the promised land, Coach Tai travelled extra miles in strengthening the overall state of the players. He introduced a whole new volleyball scheme and mentality to Ateneo, bagging plenty of attention, and winning loads of hearts. Coach Tai Bundit brought Ateneo’s first championship trophy in UAAP volleyball, and was fruitful in their back-to-back title bid, flawlessly sweeping the entire UAAP Season 77 without a glitch. Since then, the Lady Eagles became consistent title-contenders, topped the standings, and were fan favorites, nightmares on the wing, and a solid team to beat. In Season 78 and 79, The Ateneo squad bowed down to the DLSU Lady Spikers, despite having a rank one finish the entire elimination rounds. All of these, and all other mystic things which made Ateneo a stellar team, were all under the sleeves of Coach Tai Bundit, the one and only.
Known to be extremely hard in trainings, Coach Tai is more of a motivational coach when it comes to games. He is the author and master of the famed mantra, Happy, Unity, Heartstrong. This approach and mindset was one of Ateneo’s bullets as they gunned for conquests. He doesn’t scold nor reprimand his players whenever they fall short. In lieu, he does the best tactic in lifting the team’s spirit up, uttering the words, “Happy Happy”, “Can do, Can do”, or “Can win, can win.” In Ateneo’s every game, he barely sits in the bench, for he celebrates each point every player contributes, whether the team’s up, or trailing behind. He choreographed the famous “Happy Dance”, and performs this one all the time, while running, walking, shouting, and punching the air at the sidelines. He is a low-key superstar, who loves surprises which never failed to startle us. The trust, love, and motivation Coach Tai gives to the Ateneo Lady Eagles is everything an athlete can ask for.
Four great years. Four dope seasons.
When everyone thought he would still be in the sidelines for Ateneo this forthcoming Season 80, Coach Tai was yet to pull another surprise as reliable sources confirmed that he would sit out as the team’s head coach.
More than just the Happy Happy.
More than just Heartstrong.
A lot more than the trophies and the titles.
Coach Tai is more than that Thai who dances down the sidelines.
He is more than that man who says nothing but “Happy Happy”.
He is more than that leader who counts 1, 2, 3 in the huddle.
He is more than that coach who we cannot understand most of the time.
He is more than that trainer who causes physical pain among the players every training.
He is more than that magician who pulls out magic the moment we least expect them.
He is more than that motivator who trusts everyone in the deep blue bench.
He is more than that leading light who molds the Lady Eagles holistically.
He is more than what everyone sees.
Coach Tai is a father, a mentor, and a friend.
As he sits out as the main gunner for the Ateneo Women’s Volleyball Team, we cannot find the right words to say, but thank you.
Thank you, Coach.
Happy Happy. Unity. Heartstrong. Can do. Can win – the only words we cognize. But these words, will always be legendary.
We may not understand what he says, sure thing he is more than just the words.
More than just the Happy Dance.
More than just the coach we can’t fathom.
Because this unfathomable coach, has already proved himself, wowed plenty of people, and is the work behind highly-admired players.
Tai Bundit will always be legendary.
You are the real petmalu, Lodi.
Thank you for the one big fight.