Good Sports: Woman makes history while coaching UC Merced men's basketball team

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- History was made in the North Valley over the weekend when Leticia "Moses" Oceguera made her head coaching debut for the UC Merced men's basketball team.

"I grew up where my mother and father always taught me there's no such thing as a man's job," Oceguera said.

A tenacious point guard during her playing days, Oceguera would go to graduate from UC Merced in 2016.

She returned to the university three years ago as an assistant coach, but instead of joining the women's program, Oceguera, or "Coach Mo," as she's known around campus, took a leap of faith by taking her experience as a player to the sidelines of the men's team.

"At first, the looks that I got are probably the most different, but basketball is basketball. Obviously on the guy's side, it's a little more faster so your brain has to think a little faster but you get used to that."

Coach Mo is short for Moses -- a nickname she got from her dad when she was just a baby.

But there she was Saturday night leading men, making substitutions and drawing up plays for the Bobcats while becoming just the fourth female to ever coach in a collegiate men's basketball game.

Coach Mo was thrust into the spotlight after head coach Kevin Pham entered COVID protocol days before.

"It was definitely different. On the sideline when I'm the assistant coach, I get to see the game a little differently, like the flow a little different. But this time, I had to concentrate on every single play."

Senior guard Zachary Phipps says the entire team has embraced Coach Mo and despite her historical debut, she showed the poise of a coaching veteran from the sidelines.

"Honestly, I'm just proud of Coach Mo. I think she was really prepared and she just came in like it was just another day, nothing special, just another day back at work," Phipps said.

The Bobcats came up just short in Coach Mo's head coaching debut but given a few days to reflect, she's thankful for the opportunity and the impact it may have on future generations.

"Just having me out there and seeing a little girl in the stands, that was probably big for her. I understand it's big for women, it's a big win for us, but I didn't really think of it in the moment. I was really locked in and trying to get a win for us."

Following Saturday's game, the Bobcats season was shut down for two weeks as the entire team entered the COVID protocol.

UC Merced hopes to return to the court next week for their final two games of the regular season..
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