There’s a thin line between athlete and celebrity, and Mika Reyes has been skirting that line for a while now. It is quite fascinating, because not only is her sport of choice a relatively new public obsession, she’s also a woman.

Since her days as a DLSU Lady Spiker, she has amassed a dedicated fandom from both volleyball enthusiasts and casual audiences. It’s unclear whether collegiate volleyball made her famous or if it’s the other way around–what with her charisma and legitimate skill–but both she and the sport are enjoying the perks.

Mika enters the room, all 5’10 of her, simple and unmade. There is a palpable confidence that can only be gotten from years of gruelling discipline and headstrong passion. She sits down to get dolled up, bracing herself for another round of questioning–all those sports interviews and social media bombarding must get old, especially for someone who didn’t even ask for it.

“What don’t they know about me already,” she says with a smile.

For our readers who don’t follow volleyball, what is your career status right now?

I’m playing for the PSL, or The Philippine Super Liga. It’s a semi-pro league for volleyball.

You’ve recently graduated from DLSU right?

Yes, last year.

And you’ve won championships for the school, am I right?

Yes, we won 3 championships out of my 5 playing years.

You played which position?

I was the middle hitter.

How did you get there?

It was all perseverance. I started from scratch. I’ve been playing since first year high school, in St. Scholastica’s. But it wasn’t anything serious–I practiced twice a week. Unlike the others–who began as star players back in high school and played in the Palarong Pambansa–I was a bench player. So when I got into college, I worked hard for my position. I worked hard to make it to the First 6.

What made you want to be an athlete in the first place?

At first, I did it for the scholarship. But eventually, doing it everyday made me realize that I’m actually passionate about it. Even now that I’ve graduated, I’m still playing!

What is it about your sport that made you fall in love?

I love it because aside from it being a competitive team sport, it changed me in a big way.

How, exactly?

Personality-wise, discipline-wise. It made me more patient, much stronger, and more of a fighter.

What would you be doing right now if you had never played?

I guess I’d be an average student.

How about modelling? You’ve done quite a handful of shoots already.

No. I’m fine doing it on the side, like today. But I don’t particularly enjoy it.

Does being an athlete affect the way you dress?

I think so. I’m a simple dresser. When I go out, I wear pants, shirts, shorts. Of course, for special occasions, I try to wear nice dresses. I ask my other friends about trends, and I think I do keep up in some way.

H&M suits your style. What do you think about the brand?

I actually get most of my pants from H&M! I like their stretch pants because they fit my legs and my butt perfectly. The length is correct too—I think it’s 32 leg length–not too short for my height.

What else do you like from them?

I think their dresses are unique, and fit nicely, compared to other brands. I buy tops from them if they’re on sale. Just basic stuff. Of course, I like their sportswear—I buy my leggings from them. [to read the H&M Yoga+ story, click here.]

Any tips on how to keep fit? Aside the constant training, of course.

I try to have a balanced diet. For normal people who try to lose weight, they eat half-rice, but me–

Two cups of rice?

One and a half (laughs). I don’t deprive myself because I practice a lot. But I try to sleep well.

Do you have other interests?

For now, I’m just focused on continuing to play in the PSL, because it’s essentially my job.

What’s a day in your life like, off-court?

I’m a simple girl. If I have a lot of free time, I travel with friends. If my breaks are shorter, I just stay at home or go to the mall.

I don’t think we should be taking up more of your free time. See you on the court, Mika. ~

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