Mayo Kiyokawa, a Filipino-Japanese fresh graduate of Bachelor of Science in Business Administration major in Marketing Management at UST-Legazpi, is the team captain of the university’s Women’s Basketball Team and is now in Zamboanga leading her team for the 2023 National Games of the Private Schools Atheltic Association (PRISAA). The twenty-three-year-old female basketball player also serves as a shooting guard and has been playing the sport for seventeen years.

Born in Naga City, Mayo and her family moved to Japan when she was little. She and her three elder siblings play basketball as their hobby. Little did she know that this pastime would be her sport of a lifetime.

Small steps to big dunks

It all began during her first grade in elementary when Mayo started playing basketball. At first, she was eyeing to play football but eventually loved basketball and chose to pursue it over the years.

“Sa Japan kami nagstart maging sporty. Tapos nagustuhan ko rin yung mga coaches and kung paano sila magturo samin. Doon na rin kasi kami nagbo-bonding ng mga siblings ko kaya na-pursue ko na rin magbasketball hanggang ngayon,” Mayo said.

On her sixth grade, she and her Filipina mother and youngest sibling went back to Naga. There she entered Ateneo De Naga University for her Junior High School studies. It was in ADNU where she formally started her basketball career, when she signed up in an all-male group that prompted her coach and the said university to create an all-female basketball team.

“Nagulat po yung coach namin kasi may girl pala na gusto maglaro. So, nagstart po siya ng group ng basketball for girls,” she added.

It served as a springboard for her and the team to join City Meets and eventually qualify for Bicol Meets.

“Di po kami umabot ng Palarong Pambansa. First time ko po makaabot ng nationals dahil sa PRISAA,” Mayo continued.

Moving to UST-Legazpi

After graduating in Senior High School, Mayo was immediately recruited by one of the former coaches of UST-Legazpi to play for a “liga” in Iriga City. Afterwhich, she was offered a sports scholarship in the university and the rest was history.

It wasn’t easy for Mayo to balance her sports and academics. However, the said women’s basketball team captain was determined to be always on track and never miss out on any item on her plate.

“Pinaka sikreto lang niyan is time management and being responsible. Kasi pagsinunod mo talaga yung ‘filipino time’ wala ka talagang maaabot. Tapos inuuna talaga yung mga responsibilities and priorities,” said Mayo.

However, behind her success, she also made sacrifices like hanging out with her friends but ‘it’s okay’ according to Mayo as she achieved her priorities in studies and her dream of playing basketball at the same time.

Coming to PRISAA

Just like the other athletes, Mayo cannot help but feel pressured as expectations surrounding her are high. This is due to the fact that UST-Legazpi will be sending for the first time its women’s basketball team after its successful stint at the PRISAA regional games. What serves as their motivation is to bring home a medal and put a high record for their team.

“Sana masundan namin yung legacy nila coach nung playing years nila,” the shooting guard said.

In terms of preparation, Mayo and her team immediately went back to training after winning at the regional games. They trained everyday from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. Training includes stretching, heavy cardio warm ups, shooting, and their favorite – scrimmage or practice games.

Given how intense their preparations have been, they all still feel a sense of relief through Coach Melody Chua who really takes good care of them in and out of the court.

“Favorite ko si Coach kasi kahit strict siya and nakakapagod yung training, may natututunan talaga kami sa kaniya lalo na sa time management,” Mayo said.

Above all, Mayo still hopes of the best for her team even on her first time. She is aware that they will be playing against great athletes but still eyes to bring home a medal.

What’s next?

A cabin crew job awaits for Mayo in Japan. Apart from that, she is also seeking opportunities to work in a bank. Once financially stable, Mayo dreams of training kids in the future to pay it forward for the experiences she got as a student-athelete. She is also considering to play for professional league should opportunities knock on her door after the PRISAA national games.

Greatest takeaways 

It was leadership and teamwork, according to Mayo.

As a leader of her team, Mayo found it difficult to guide her teammates at first but eventually learned to step up and act as the team’s role model. As for teamwork, Mayo said that they learned to seek help from one another in accomplishing a task, and work as one.

Asked what message she could give to her teammates before she leaves the portals of the university, Mayo said that she hopes for their record not to be broken and that she wishes for her remaining members to persevere more than ever especially in finishing their academic careers.

“Ang basketball, andiyan lang ‘yan. Yung academics, yung opportunity to study ay minsan lang makukuha kaya sana huwag nilang pabayaan yung opportunity na binibigay ng UST-Legazpi. It’s a precious gift. Pag-igihan nila.”

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