Beach coach heartened by police chief who broke down barriers with basketball team
It was a date we won’t forget: March 12, 2022.
We were at the Big West Conference tournament in Las Vegas, playing for the men's basketball championship against Cal State Fullerton. It was a very emotional night for us. We lost by one point.
We were getting back to the hotel and preparing to meet with donors for dinner when I was pulled aside by (then) Athletics Director Andy Fee, who told me CSULB discovered a serious (and credible) threat online via a social media post.
I really didn’t think that much about it - until I saw it. There were terrible, racist and threatening texts, along with graphic images about hurting the players. To see a post directed at my players and to see my captain’s name, along with our children - it was so emotional.
One of my players said “Coach, you always tell us to rise above it and to let it define us,” but I told him, “Yes, you’re right, but now it’s time for us to fight and speak up for ourselves.
“You should not be subjected to this after everything you’ve been through: You’ve fought through COVID, came back to win a league championship and to be on the verge of winning a tournament championship – just one point away – you do not need to be subjected to this.”
I called (then Deputy) Chief Brockie (of the University Police Department) and he wanted us to know, “We’re behind you guys 100%.”
It was very comforting, but it was what followed that really made me comfortable.
The following day, we got back to campus and not only was President Conoley there waiting for the bus (as she always is) but Chief Brockie and his staff were there to meet us.
He was very sensitive and asked permission to talk to the guys, while not invading the team’s space. So, we went into our locker room (our safe space) to have that conversation.
Chief Brockie couldn’t have been better in breaking down those barriers.
He said, “Hey, I’m on your side.”
He was phenomenal. He just shed the badge and said, “I’m here as your advocate. Whatever we need to do, we’re going to do. We are going to proceed with this from the university standpoint and that will be pursued to the fullest extent of the law.”
Although we’ve been subjected to this for a long time – me, as an African American man, and these young men – it doesn’t mean it’s right for us to continue to have to deal with this.
Chief Brockie honed in that. He reinforced that this is not right for any of our students and promised it would be pursued.
They tracked down the person across state lines, worked with the FBI, brought him to trial and convicted him - all the while, Chief Brockie communicated with us and the young man on our team who was the main target of the threats.
And to come back later with a conviction, when we know how difficult it is when they’re chasing us down and shooting us in the streets, like Ahmaud Arbery, was really good.
My players needed some faith in the system; they needed to know that there is some advocacy for them. I don’t how much trust it restored for the police department, but it did with our University Police.
They know they have a safe space.
They are not afraid when they see UPD on campus and that was not the case when I got to campus.
They will walk up to any patrol car, speak to the officers and lean into the vehicles and shake hands.
When I got here (in 2014), they would walk around the vehicle.
Until you see a change, you don’t realize how bad it was.
Chief Brockie has come and spoken to my players and has dealt with the very difficult questions that come from my group, because they don’t have a lot of faith in law enforcement.
And his officers now come to our practices - they come without their uniform, just in their blue t-shirts, and they speak to the guys. The guys know them; it’s a real relationship that’s being built, where they know the guys by name.
We, in the Beach community, can show that there is a way to have some unity between law enforcement and these young Black males that, honestly, have been persecuted by law enforcement.
We can show people that hey, we can do it on our campus.
It can give some hope that there can be unity between communities of color and law enforcement on a bigger scale.
Coach Myke Scholl is the associate head coach for Long Beach State men’s basketball.
Beach Voices is an occasional feature that allows members of the Beach community – students, faculty, staff and alumni – to share their personal experiences. If you’d like to be considered, email submissions labeled “Beach Voices” to Strategic Communications.