Women's Basketball Players Earn Statewide Honors for Academics
At Monterey Peninsula College, the term student-athlete means just that. Alyssa Rivera and Marielle Tuazon, both of whom will graduate this spring, truly exemplify it.
The two young women have been selected to the prestigious California Community College Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (CCCWBCA) 2017-18 Academic All-State Team.
“This is a distinct honor as it recognizes student-athletes who have met their responsibilities on the field of play while excelling in the classroom – no small feat considering all they have on their plates,” wrote Paul F. DeBolt, president-elect of the CCCWBCA in a letter to Kiran Kamath, MPC’s Vice-President of Academic Affairs. “We at the CCCWBCA think it's important for leaders at our colleges to be aware of these young women and their outstanding coaches in advance of the ceremonies.”
Alyssa and Marielle were invited to the CCCWBCA’s Banquet of Champions during the state championships in Oxnard, but they were unable to attend because of schoolwork.
The CCCWBCA points out that Alyssa, a 2015 graduate of Pajaro Valley High, compiled a grade-point average of 3.84, and that Marielle, a 2016 Seaside High graduate, had a GPA of 3.66.
Alyssa didn’t play basketball during her first year at MPC but practiced with the team, becoming a regular during the past two seasons. A 5-foot-7 forward, she averaged 4.5 points per game while grabbing 4.0 rebounds per contest. She shot a strong 74 percent from the free throw line.
“We call her our ‘anchor’ because she could always steady the ship with her fundamental play,” says Head Women’s Basketball Coach Wendy Bates. “She really likes to do everything perfectly. Her basketball IQ is very high. She always knew what to do. If we needed a good screen set, she set it. Her decision-making was spot on.”
Alyssa will graduate in May with a pair of Associate of Arts degrees – in kinesiology and in pre-physical therapy -- and will attend Sacramento State. She attributes her interest in kinesiology to discussions with Associate Head Coach Erin O’Hare, who has a master’s degree in kinesiology and teaches physical fitness and physical education at MPC.
A resident of Watsonville, Alyssa often arrives at school by 7 a.m. and may not get home until 9:30 at night. But she isn’t complaining about the length of days. In addition to their class loads, team members practice about two hours each weekday.
“This is kind of like a home away from home for me,” she says. “I’ve made some of my best friends at MPC. Basketball became my family. I just like playing basketball.”
Marielle averaged 13.2 points per game, the fifth best in the conference, as well 2.8 assists and 2.1 steals for the Lobos. She will graduate in May with an Associate of Arts degree in social science.
Marielle, who is 5-feet-2 1/2, was a member of the Coast-South Conference’s first team this season after earning all-conference honorable mention as a freshman. She is currently a star on MPC’s powerful softball team.
Making the transition from high school was a bit of a challenge, Marielle says.
“I would say it was hard because I didn’t know what to expect,” she says. “TRIO helped me know what I wanted.”
TRIO consists of three educational opportunity programs at MPC geared to motivate and support students including those with first-generation college backgrounds. It helps prepare students to earn a degree and transfer to a four-year college.
“Our women’s basketball team is closely tied to the TRIO program,” says Ms. Bates.
Marielle is a tenacious take-charge player and fine ball handler. Coach Bates calls her “a fearless competitor. She was our point guard and is very athletic and is a really good three-point shooter with good court sense.”
Marielle is keen on continuing with basketball when she transfers from MPC.
“I want to play at the next level,” she says. She has been accepted at the University of Saint Katherine in San Marcos in Southern California, including both an athletic scholarship and an academic award there, and Coach Bates says that other schools are recruiting her.
“I felt like the coaches here could help me get to the next level,” Marielle says. “MPC is a great way to start and experience college. The instructors here come willing to do whatever they can.”
After college, Marielle is interested in a career in health science, perhaps diet or nutrition.
What will each young woman most take with them about playing basketball at the school?
“The practices with our teammates,” says Marielle. “We had a fun time at practices. We were a special group of girls. We like each other.”
Alyssa sums it up in one word: “Memories.”
MPC went 14-13 this season and 6-6 in the conference. The highlight of season was a remarkable come-from-behind win at Mission College in Santa Clara. The Lobos fell behind 21-0 within the game’s first 4 ½ minutes but persevered and rallied to win 73-65. Mission had beaten MPC by 29 points earlier in Monterey.
Coach Bates, who is in her 14th year of coaching at MPC and 29th year of coaching overall, says, “What makes coaching enjoyable is seeing them develop as human beings, being able to help them progress and to watch them evolve.”
The letter from the association of women’s colleges congratulates more than the players.
“You should be very proud of both Alyssa and Marielle, as well as Head Coach Wendy Bates and her staff. It is a wonderful and comforting thought that these two student-athletes and their coaches place as much importance, if not more, on their academic performance as their athletic performance. I also want to extend to you our congratulations for all you do at MPC to create an atmosphere and environment that fosters success on the court and in the classroom.”