Body and Soul: Mo Mosley’s creativity extends beyond the court

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Joshua Jordan/Senior Staff

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Her journal is a slim little notebook, a gift from a close friend, that’s covered in bright, vibrant colors — orange, pink, green, purple — with a tie-together detail on the cover.

Looking at the pages offers insight into the thoughts and ideas that run through the head of MaAne’ “Mo” Mosley; she is a creative soul with a passion for writing, often articulating her thoughts best by hand.

And a likely place for one of these many journals to be tucked into is Mosley’s basketball bag — unseen but utterly important.

As Cal heads to South Carolina this weekend for the NCAA Tournament, a thoughtful and heady Mosley will revisit a distinction she has had to establish for herself throughout her basketball career.

“I’ve had to learn, like, OK, you need to recognize that this is the Mo on the court, and then there’s also the MaAne’ off the court,” Mosley says.

The 5’ 11’’ junior guard will be stern-faced in basketball attire, gearing up for the biggest event in college basketball — March Madness. The nature of her being an athlete may typically demand a sense of awe and intimidation.

While some may get caught up in her exterior as a “basketball player,” Mosley wants people to see the person within — one whose athletic career is only the cover of her story.

Keeping a store of her ideas in print is nothing new for Mosley, who started journaling at a very young age.

In part, the Oakland native wrote because she didn’t always enjoy talking to people. She could clear her thoughts and get her ideas down even if she couldn’t always translate those things out loud.

“I felt like it was somewhat of a close friend because, you know, it listens — figuratively, right,” Mosley says. “You’re forced to be honest; you’re not going to lie to yourself.”

Whether it be poetry, spoken word, writing or drawing, Mosley has kept a constant source of creativity with her throughout her life. These hobbies — and writing, in particular — have been, and likely always will be, a part of her.

While she frequents writing more than talking, Mosley, just like that vibrant little notebook she still holds dear today, is bright and lively around her teammates, friends and even strangers.

“Off the court, she was happy-go-lucky, friendly, was nice to everyone,” says former St. Mary’s College High School girl’s basketball head coach Nate Fripp. “Everybody loved Mo; Mo loved everybody.”

An easygoing, always smiling character, Mosley developed friendships that extended far beyond her trusty pen and paper.

Every friendship Mosley has made brings something unique into her world, but her relationship with basketball has had an especially lasting impact on her life.

Aself-proclaimed “daddy’s girl,” she credits her father, Siddha Mosley, with inspiring her to pursue athletics.

But despite her father’s willingness, getting her mother’s approval to play sports didn’t happen overnight.

“When (Mo) was born, her mom was like, ‘She is not playing basketball,’ ” Siddha Mosley says.

Mosley’s mother advocated that she keep her focus on school. As a result, while her future contemporaries were carving out the niches in basketball, Mosley was in the classroom. Her Xs and Os never left her notebooks.

Despite not playing basketball officially, her father kept Mosley close to the sport through his time playing recreational ball.

“She was maybe six weeks old, and I would take her to the park with me — she’d be in her little basket just watching me play,” Siddha Mosley says.

At the age of about 14, Mosley was shooting around with her cousin in her backyard, and a family friend acknowledged her raw talent.

“You’ve got to let her play, man,” Siddha Mosley recalls his friend saying.

After some convincing of the mother and the green light from her father, Mosley began playing basketball at Salesian College Preparatory in Richmond. Mosley’s talent stood out at the small private school of about 500 students, but her father acknowledged that the competition was not awfully stiff.

The true test came when her father took her to an Amateur Athletic Union camp to see if Mosley could hang with the best of ‘em. After she went toe-to-toe with current USC sophomore guard Minyon Moore — a Bay Area native from Hercules — it was clear that Mosley could hold her own.

When Mosley transferred to Salesian’s rival high school — St. Mary’s College High School in Albany — it was clear that she had that special something. Regardless of her late start out of the gate, she would make up for time lost in a flash.

During her tenure as a Panther, Mosley not only put up dominant performances on the court, but also in the classroom.

“(She has) kind of contrasting styles,” says Fripp. “Off the court: happy. On the court: intense, focused.”

In her senior year, she put together a standout season — one of the best that Fripp had ever seen during his 15 years at the school.

Mosley’s production didn’t go unnoticed, as Mosley was rated the No. 15 winger in the country by ESP and caught the eyes of both the Bears and the Cardinal.

“We told her she could go anywhere she wanted to, as long as it was Cal or Stanford,” Siddha says, laughing.

No matter what school she would end up at, her mother could feel reassured that Mosley had not strayed from her commitment to her excellent academics. The cherry on top: She would get to lace up her shoes on the hardwood close to home.

Ultimately, she crossed an X through the Cardinal and drew a circle around the blue and gold.

Since that decision, Mosley has been a part of two March Madness campaigns, the first as a sophomore in the 2016-17 season and the second now as a junior in the 2017-18 season.

“March is when great things happen,” Mosley says.

Cal women’s basketball is in an interesting position this year, as the men’s team did not qualify for the tournament for the first time in two years. But the women have their golden ticket and are the sole representatives of the sport for the Bears in March Madness.

The team boasts a 21-10 record, including a 12-3 mark at home, which helped it earn a No. 7 seed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament.

“There is pride with everything that we do, starting from the beginning of the season up until the end,” Mosley says. “You want to set the bar as high as possible. That’s the only way you’re going to achieve great things.”

When the Bears huddle up and prepare for their most important 40 minutes of basketball of the season, the pressure will be on.

But the pressure exists mostly from within the team. The coaches, the staff and the players are going to will themselves to perform their best and not give in to the external noise that comes with a high-stakes tournament.

From top to bottom, seniors to freshmen, Cal’s squad has high expectations fueled by its love for the game.

“The goal is to win and see yourself, as well as your team, grow,” Mosley says.

Despite the success that Cal — along with Mosley — has made for itself, Mosley says sometimes there is a disconnect. Since athletes are often seen as superior to non-athletes, particularly for student-athletes on a college campus, some can end up feeling isolated from many social circles.

“Being an athlete, there is kind of like a barrier sometimes, because people just see the exterior and they don’t really see the individual sometimes,” Mosley says.

But soon, there will no longer be a barrier between her athlete and non-athlete status. In a couple weeks, once the trophy is distributed, the net is cut and the confetti is swept away, March Madness comes to an end. And a year from now, hopefully after another run deep into March, Mosley’s time as a Cal women’s basketball player will be over as well.

Of course, Mosley will tell you that the barrier never truly existed.

“You know, I bleed too,” Mosley says. “You can talk to me and things like that.”

When she finishes her tenure at Cal, Mosley has no doubts aboutwhat she wants to do with her life. The skills she learned as a Bear will transcend the court and help her as she takes on the game of life.

“I love people; I love kids,” Mosley says. “I love being able to be an advocate, or just some kind of force there, to support people who either not necessarily can do so for themselves or just need the support.”

A legal studies major, she intends to pursue a career as an attorney along with some form of social work. In particular, Mosley wants to give a voice to the voiceless.

On a campus full of exceptional thinkers and countless ideas, Cal has served as the muse to transform the thoughts and ideas of Mosley’s journals into a voice to change the future.

She is far more than just “a basketball player.” Read between the lines: Mosley is not someone you can just write off.

Christie Aguilar is an assistant sports editor. Contact her at [email protected].

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