By Annette M. Lesure
East Los Angeles College’s Men’s Basketball coach awaits campus return amid COVID-19 safety preparations and restrictions after a year-long struggle.
Being absent from campus for over a year was tough on the athletes and coaches alike.
Contrary to what fans may think, basketball goes way beyond physical training.
The sport is based largely on mental conditioning that comes from a foundation of trust between players and coaches.
The time spent in quarantine was a massive setback for the 2021 ELAC team, which had little contact with the school campus and no workouts.
Head basketball coach John Mosley said their contact was limited to Zooming once or twice a week.
Mosley said he was having a really tough time with his student athletes’ lack of contact.
“Right now, it’s very frustrating because the new recruits are counting on someone. Some of them don’t have father figures or stable homes. And the one thing that was stable for all those young men was coming to the East LA College gym because they knew that it was a stable environment,” Mosley said.
Having structure is key to the program’s success and what Mosley believes provides his athletes with the comfort needed to rise above their adversities.
Mosley said the athletes’ lack of comfort and structure that comes from being a part of the program has sent some of them to other schools whose programs are up and running, or have dropped out altogether.
He said the lack of engagement with the student-athletes is unacceptable.
“I’m not talking about being unsafe. I’m not even talking about playing games. I just want to see them and engage and help them study. That’s essentially where my heart is right now,” Mosely said.
As LA County rolls out vaccines and the long-awaited herd immunity, athletes should have the opportunity to return to campus sometime in the next few weeks.
Going back can’t come fast enough for Mosely, who said they are running out of things to keep the students engaged online, beyond chatting and checking occasional homework.
“At this point, they see their friends and the rest of the country and the world are opening up. And this small little area here in LA is struggling to engage the population again,” Mosely said.
President Alberto J. Román said that ELAC submitted a safety plan to prepare the campus for return, to the District’s Emergency Operation Center for athletes to begin training this spring.
“Basketball’s return to campus could happen as soon as two weeks from now,” Román said.
Román said ELAC will follow the safety guidelines set in place by the LA County Department of Public Health, to prepare the campus for a safe return.
Román said he is excited to see the student-athletes return to campus to seize their opportunities after a most challenging year.
“Our athletes have been significantly impacted without the ability to compete or even practice. ELAC will be ready to launch sports as soon as we are allowed to do so,” Román said.
Román said that while he respects people opting out of vaccinating for personal reasons, he encourages as many people as possible to get vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity and get back to campus.