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Caleb Theodore, head coach of LPC’s women’s basketball team, spoke with freshman star forward Monique Cavness prior to the 2022-23 season. Asking what Cavness loved and missed about the team sport she couldn’t play the same way since 2020. Eventually, Theodore and Cavness’s teammates found that passion for basketball Cavness had and helped reignite that spark for her. 

As the saying goes, if you love something, set it free. If it comes back, then you know that love is real. Cavness let basketball go. The pandemic came between her and her beloved game. It became too hard to hold on. In her heart, she let it go. She was done with basketball, resigned to the everlasting memories of a great high school and AAU career. She pacified her loss with the school work, prepared to shift her focus to a career. 

But the love was real. She knows because basketball came rolling back to her. They were meant to be. The game drew the Richmond native to Livermore, where she could rekindle her affection for the sport while helping Theodore revive the Las Positas College’s fledgling program. Thanks to her coach, her teammates, and the thrill of competition, it didn’t take Cavness long to find her groove. 

The Hawks got a star forward on the 2022-23 roster. Cavness’s experience and level of rebounding and blocking shots convinced Theodore to have her on the team. 

“It was great that someone saw the potential and growth in me,” Cavness said of her new coach. “It feels amazing knowing I still have potential and a drive to continue.”

Cavness’s early roots in basketball began at the Richmond Parkway YMCA at 10 years old as she watched the sport as a kid. Cavness also joined two youth programs called Trust the Process and Eastbay Soldiers. 

Trust the Process is a young basketball program that develops players from childhood to early high school to become the best. Eastbay Soldiers is a grassroots youth program that’s federally recognized, formed to bring the community’s youth a positive athletic and academic experience. 

There was a particular moment during Cavness’s time with Eastbay Soldiers where she realized this is genuinely something she wanted to continue doing in her future.

“When I played for East Bay Soldiers, there was one game where I felt like a forever member. I was the only girl on the team and there were players my age or older than me. I was being aggressive and blocking shots on these boys who were taller than me. At that point, I was able to prove a lot of people wrong and this was something I could channel my energy to. 

I was able to see a better side of me,” Cavness said.

Cavness got more serious with the sport and played for El Cerrito High in El Cerrito, California. She won Player of the Year during her sophomore year with the El Cerrito Gauchos,—Spanish for cowboys—with averages of 18 points, 11 rebounds and 7 blocks per game. 

The cheering and playing under the gym lights wouldn’t last long for Cavness, as COVID-19 began spreading in early 2020, and lockdown forced everyone to avoid close contact. Meaning athletes like Cavness couldn’t play team sports until restrictions were lifted. It wasn’t easy on the dominant player whose heart is on the court. 

“It was hard not being able to play basketball on the court, trying to find outdoor courts but they were taken out. I’ve been trying to stay fit and do some at-home workouts. Finding a routine helped me push through,” Cavness said. 

Those rough moments while social distancing was in place would soon come to an end for Cavness. When California State University basketball was ongoing in the 2021-22 season, Cavness would meet her future head coach and mentor to encourage her to pick the ball up again.

Theodore was an assistant coach at California State University, East Bay and Cavness was the student manager at California State University, San Marcos last year. When Cavness came by to visit, the two remembered each other from their previous encounters and the ball started rolling. 

Theodore said, “(Monique) Cavness is an outstanding athlete and an even more incredible woman. We relate on a lot of things, and we’ve had a lot of conversations on how her impact will help elevate this program. We’ve been able to come to terms and agreements on the same things and how she can help elevate the program as a team because at the end of the day, it’s a team sport. Monique’s been on the same page with us, she’s locked in, and we couldn’t be more happy to have her.”

It took time for Cavness to get back into it, but the passionate spark had come back to life and she got comfortable on the court. When the team started building chemistry and connection, they felt the comfort and passion amongst themselves and within each other. When everybody started learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses, that’s when Cavness started finding that love that she missed for so long.

Gibran is a copy-editor for The Express. Follow him @Gibran580MSCM.

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