A soaring volleyball star: Getting personal with Jema Galanza

Date Posted: March 20, 2018 at 04:09 PM


(Photo Courtesy of ABS - CBN Sports)

Volleyball is more than just a sport for those who dedicate their lives to it. In the court, the Adamson Lady Falcons captain and outside spiker, Jessica Margarett Galanza, is well-known for her killer volleyball skills and ridiculously photogenic game shots that launched a thousand reactions on social media. You may have already seen her face all over the web on a sunny afternoon while you’re on the way home, and she’s at the SV Gym probably training for a game and getting ready for a class right after. But outside of it, there is more to the 21-year-old, Laguna-born and -raised athlete with her infectious smile than meets the eye.

Adamson University is the only school Jema has played for thus far, but she has experienced playing for professional volleyball leagues, which is more on their individual strengths as players, something that takes a lot of getting used to. She somehow enjoys the grind in college volleyball: hard trainings alongside the way her coaches focus on their growth as a team first before anything else, which helps them a lot during the UAAP season. For Jema, staying hyper before every game is a must because it helps sustain her energy throughout sets. “If I stay quiet during bus rides, I tend to bring the mood inside the court, which prevents me from communicating well with my teammates, and we don’t want that,” she stressed.

Leadership is one of the things that radiates naturally from Jema when she speaks of the team. When asked if she has heard the latest Drake single, God’s Plan, she named two of the things she loves, just as he did in his lyrics: volleyball and the team. It’s no secret that Coach Air Padda has been giving the team inspiration ever since the beginning, and Jema gamely recalls the most meaningful thing Coach Padda ever said to her: “Coach believes that I am a strong person, and I am capable of being a huge help to the team because I can do so much. She thinks that this year will bring us good results—not just for my career, but for the team as well.”

Of course, being the captain is not an easy feat to accomplish, and it took a lot of strength from Jema to endure all the hardships that came their way. Trying not to show any sign of tears in her eyes but ultimately failing, she reveals that what she is afraid of the most is that the season will end without them getting into the final four, because she knows how hard the team has worked on their goal. The biggest challenge she went through as captain was the ankle injury she suffered during the last Premier Volleyball League (PVL) conference. She claims that it left an astounding impact on her because she could not join trainings and it became a cause for worry for her every day, but the experience left her with a little more knowledge on who she is as a person and what she is capable of. She proved to herself that she had a lot more to improve on, not just on being a captain, but as a player – a true showcase of humility, a telltale sign of an Adamsonian.

In a more personal look on the rising volleyball star, as untouchable as she might seem during games, she is just like us in some ways as revealed on a Fast Talk segment. For one, she loves a good Chickenjoy from Jollibee, and enjoys Krispy Kreme donuts. She would rather train for a day than to sleep a full 8-hours and would love to live on the beach if given the chance. In a romantic sense, she likes a bouquet of flowers and fancy dinner dates. She geeks out like the rest of us, too, saying that she prefers Marvel over DC and is a dog person. She would rather go vegetarian than live off desserts and dye her hair any primary color than to get a tattoo of a person’s name. All is fun and well, with her down-to-earth personality and welcoming charisma.

Being a role model in this generation, she has a few words for aspiring volleyball players: “As a volleyball player, you don’t only have problems inside the court, but outside of it as well. What you need is a stronger mind and heart, because you can’t bring your personal issues to the game itself. You have to be capable of solving your problems on your own. It’s hard to trust people nowadays, so always look out for yourself. Don’t let your confidence die out because a player who is confident is better at handling challenges than someone who is just physically fit.”

So, what is next for Jema? Not only does she want to shine in the court but she also hopes to dazzle the television as well. She shares that if she was not pursuing a volleyball career, she would have been eyeing a career in show business since she has always dreamed of being an actress. Another one of her backup plans for the future is to become a teacher, since she is bound to graduate with a degree of Bachelor of Secondary Education major in MAPEH this academic year. She is lively when speaking of her secret talent: singing, which not a lot of her supporters know of. She plans to engage in acting and singing workshops to improve her talents, if she gets lucky.

There’s no question about it, though. With her determination and charm, everything is bound to be up and sunny in her future, just like the way she is now. Marielle Fatima B. Tuazon