WLAC Basketball Coach Mozafari Has Unique Role – First Woman Coaching a Men’s Team for CCC

West Los Angeles College Men’s Basketball has been on a hot streak on and off the court for the last few years and one of the keys to their success is assistant coach Lily Mozafari. Mozafari is the first woman to be appointed to a coaching position for a men’s basketball team in the California Community Colleges.

After serving as academic counselor for the college athletics program for three years, Head Basketball Coach Anthony Jones tapped Mozafari to join him on the court as an assistant coach in 2019. Receiving the opportunity was “amazing,” said Mozafari. “At first, I was nervous. But I walked right through the doors thinking this was an opportunity to showcase my skills and hopefully open up doors for other women to follow in the footsteps and make a name for themselves in a male-dominated business.”

“Of the candidates I considered, Lily, a former high school player, had not only unmatched passion but great basketball IQ,” said Head Coach Jones. “She remains eager to learn and to always keep improving. I made a great choice.”

Mozafari, who still also serves as an academic counselor, said the transition to coaching seemed seamless. “The passion that I have not only for students, but also for athletics, helped me mirror that into the coaching world. I bring the same care I have working with student-athletes in the office on the counseling side, to the coaching side as well.”

 In her four seasons as assistant coach, the team has won two Western State Conference Championships; has made the California Community College Athletic Association (3C2A) State Tournament twice; and in the fall 2021 semester, the players set a school record for college teams by earning a 3.62 team grade point average (GPA).

Mozafari said that the record-setting GPA was one of her proudest accomplishments. “That for me is everything an athletic counselor could dream of as well as a coach, so it was two-fold for me.”

Wearing her counselor hat, she works with 11 teams and over 300 students which currently have achieved a combined GPA of just under 3.0. Since her arrival, both the athlete GPA and graduation rates have been on the rise. In fall 2023, 16 student-athletes made the 3C2A’s Academic All State Award Team with GPAs ranging from 3.5 to 4.0. One men’s basketball player also made the CCCAA’s Athlete Honor Roll with a 3.82 GPA.

“The standard academic rules at the community college level are not going to be enough for kids to move on to a four-year school,” explained Mozafari. “So we’ve got to articulate to student-athletes that while a 2.0 gets you to play here, you’re going to need a higher GPA to transfer [to a university]…Their Plan A is to play sports, but they have to be realistic about creating a Plan B. If athletics don’t pan out, at least they’ll be academically ready to transfer.”

Mozafari grew up in Encino, California and earned her bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Psychology from California State University of Northridge. Her master’s degree in Educational Counseling was earned at the University of La Verne.

Michelle Long-Coffee

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