Players come and go, but the memories and triumphs that athletes create will live on forever—their journey continuing on regardless of the outcome.
DLSU Lady Spiker Ernestine “Tin” Tiamzon is best known for her offensive production and floor defense; entering her fifth and final playing year under the Green-and-White, the outside hitter is focused on leaving it all on the court one last time for her alma mater and finishing her collegiate career on a high note.
From West to East
When she lived in British Columbia, Canada, Tiamzon played basketball in her early days, but she developed a passion for volleyball after choosing to focus on one sport in her first year of high school. Tiamzon was inspired by her older sister Erika Tiamzon Billena, who also played for the Lady Spikers in the early 2000s and was part of the UAAP Season 68 championship squad.
Aside from her sister being a former Lasallian, Tiamzon explained that her decision to move to the Philippines and play for DLSU emerged out of wanting to lessen the burden on her parents. “My first priority of going to college was to make sure that my parents no longer needed to worry about my tuition,” she explains. “La Salle offered me a really good scholarship, and it is one of the most prestigious schools here in the Philippines—I simply couldn’t say no to their offer.”
That decision, however, also came with a sacrifice; dedicating a huge part of her life to the University meant that Tiamzon had to live far away from her parents and first home, a reality often faced by many a student-athlete. This has been particularly challenging for the veteran in recent times, as she discloses, “I miss [my family] a lot. I wasn’t able to say goodbye to my mom properly…I also didn’t spend as much time with my mom as I wanted before she passed away,” further adding that one of her personal goals is constantly “to make [her] family proud.”
Legacy of champions
Because of their success in the UAAP over the years, being able to play for the Green-and-White is what many young volleyball players aspire for. After all, the DLSU Lady Spikers have been deemed as perennial title contenders ever since head coach Ramil De Jesus took over the program.
The skillful star in Tiamzon was able to live out that dream; finding much success in her collegiate career, she played a part in La Salle’s last three women’s volleyball championship runs in Seasons 78, 79, and 80.
These accomplishments did not unfold without due diligence, however. Tiamzon highlights the importance of “[going] through the process and [giving] your 10,000 hours to master your skills. When you get that opportunity, grab it—don’t let it get away.”
Indeed, the Lady Spiker has come a long way since her first taste of a championship experience back in Season 78. During her rookie year with the Taft-based squad, they claimed DLSU’s one and only title in beach volleyball history.
Tiamzon tried to start and end her beach volleyball career with the same victorious outcome as the Green-and-White clinched a finals berth earlier this season. But as fate would have it, the squad conceded the crown to defending champions UST Golden Tigresses, finishing with silver medals instead.
Now, Tiamzon and the rest of the Lady Spikers look to bounce back after their early exit last year, turning her sights on the much-anticipated Season 82 women’s volleyball tournament as the final avenue “to leave a good legacy in La Salle.”
While being part of DLSU’s glorious three-peat era is no doubt a gratifying experience, Tiamzon expresses that the best moments have come with her teammates on-and-off the court. Embedded within that winning culture is a tightly-knit squad—building strong bonds for the student-athlete who was living apart from her immediate family.
Finding a family within the Lasallian community, Tiamzon considers assistant coach Carissa Gotis as a “vital part of the team”, and more so the “mother figure” who helped her transition to the Philippines. As she details, “Ate Carissa always makes sure that we are safe and okay. She gives us the advice we need inside and outside the court, [and is] always there through our ups and downs.”
The support system of the University and the team filled the void for the Canadian-born Filipina. Further, having spent over four years learning from De Jesus, Tiamzon acknowledges the mentorship role played by the veteran coach. “He has prepared us not only for things that happen [on] the court but also for all the challenges that we will face beyond it,” she shares, adding that De Jesus’ guidance has equipped her to cope with any hardships that may arise in the future.
Her time in Taft has allowed the Lady Spiker to glean many valuable lessons, bracing her for whatever may be in store for her beyond La Salle. For the present, however, Tiamzon has only one thing in mind—“Play like we’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.”