By William Hernandez
Originally from Brooklyn, New York, guard Marcus Romain of the men’s basketball team arrived just in time to help push East Los Angeles College to its first conference title in 42 years.
Before he committed to ELAC in 2013, Romain was offered a full-ride scholarship to play for the nation’s most successful junior college, Odessa College, National Junior College Athletic Association champion.
“Odessa is a good school and their Head Coach Tra Arnold is a good coach and they’re doing good. But personally, I felt like East Los Angeles College would be a better opportunity,” Romain said.
When ELAC Head Coach John Mosley picked up Romain from the airport last August, Mosley explained to Romain the big picture,.“What to look forward to, the players I’d be playing with, and the school I’d be attending,” Romain said.
The decision to move west was made easy for Romain, thanks to the support of his family.
His grandmother lives in Oceanside, Calif., where Romain stayed for a year before he enrolled at ELAC.
“It was an easy transition to let Marcus go play at ELAC. I have my mother who stays in Oceanside and my brother lives in Pasadena. So for the holidays, we can all spend it together,” Phil Romain, Marcus’ father said..
Romain’s older brother Brandon, played at the University of Detroit Mercy.
According their father, Brandon is very close to signing a contract to play overseas.
Separated by two years, Marcus competed against and looked up to Brandon as a player, “because he received a lot of attention and notoriety,” Phil Romain said.
Another factor that contributed to Romain’s decision was financial independence. “I’m one that believes that kids need to explore and go outside the box.”
“That’s what I liked about Marcus going to California. Odessa was going to pay for everything, but at ELAC he was going to have to work hard and earn everything on his own,” Phil Romain said.
Because he didn’t qualify for financial aid, Romain was offered employment from ELAC’s Athletic Director Al Cone.
“He’s our only student worker we have because of budget cuts. Marcus is a great individual. He’s a prototype of our student athletes, Cone said. All they have to do is go to class, come to practice, and be respectful…Marcus does all of that, and he’s very respectful.”
Though he didn’t start this season, Romain played a major role for the Huskies. He came off the bench, and averaged 14.4 points per game.
“He accepted his role, didn’t argue about not starting or not getting the ball enough. That’s what made us so good, everybody on this team accepted their role,” Mosley said.
Despite his success this season, basketball wasn’t always the center of attention for Romain.
Instead, he was more focused in school.
“He always excelled in school, and just didn’t have the size or length to compete like his older brother Brandon did,” Phil Romain said.
Marcus Romain stretched out a couple inches in the summer after his sophomore year of high school, one in which his father decided to hold him back a grade due to his performance in the classroom.
“Earlier in my career, I got off to a slow start because I was always shorter and slim. But my father always motivated me to keep going,” Marcus Romain said.
He now measures at a solid 6 feet 2 inches tall.
Marcus Romain always cherished his father’s advice such as, “it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”
On the court, he is a dynamic point guard that plays to win by scoring, rebounding and getting his teammates involved.
Marcus Romain drove into the paint and made a clean behind-the-back move, and finished with a left-handed layup against Los Angeles Trade Tech College February 14.
“You’ve got to entertain a little. That’s the N.Y. style of play, having fun and amusing the crowd a bit,” Romain said.
Similar to the fast-paced and busy lifestyle of New York City, Marcus Romain keeps a stacked regimen filled with work, practice, and game day routines, plus the six classes (18 units) he’s taking this semester.
“I like to move around a lot and I’m just trying to accumulate as many as classes as I can. On Mondays and Wednesdays I go to class from 7:35 a.m. until 1:35 p.m. Then I go to work for the athletic director until practice starts,” Marcus Romain said.
Marcus Romain said he’s adapted to the west coast lifestyle, thanks to the help and advice from his coaches, teachers and teammates.
He sticks to the optimism he learned in his N.Y. upbringing.
“The key mindset is to remain positive and keep the winning attitude. At the end of the day, that’s what’s matters the most,” Marcus Romain said.
Now that the season has finished, his top priority is to finish the semester strong.
“It’s all about going to class and taking care of business,” Marcus Romain said.
Off to a good start for his first year playing at ELAC, Marcus Romain will return to play his sophomore season next year.