Dan Monson has had an eventful quarantine.
At work, the winningest coach in Long Beach State men’s basketball history is preparing for an unpredictable season while adding elite transfer talent to his roster. More importantly at home, his 18-year-old daughter Mollie is recovering from coronavirus.
It’s a waiting game for the return of basketball activities, but Monson and his family want to be proactive and candid about their coronavirus experience.
“We are kind of a PSA,” Monson said. “When you have a job where you’re fortunate enough to be in the public eye, the public deserves to be educated. That’s certainly what this did for our family.”
Monson said Mollie is feeling much better and recovering at home, but they still don’t know where or how she contracted the virus.
“I think my wife was as strict to the CDC guidelines as any family could be,” Monson said. “But (Mollie) wore us down as parents. She’s a high school senior who didn’t get a signing day, she didn’t get prom, she was scheduled to speak at graduation… To say goodbye to a couple friends who are going to college one night, or go to somebody’s backyard on the Fourth of July… She deserves to do that. But does she deserve to bring bring home a virus to her grandparents?”
Monson said none of the 40-50 people Mollie came in contact with in early July have had any symptoms. She even tested negative on July 6 after a Fourth of July backyard barbecue. However, a few days later she ran a fever as high as 104.7 degrees and also contracted pneumonia.
“For 72 hours there, we didn’t know,” Monson said. “She was in urgent care one day, in the emergency room for six hours after that. My wife got up in the middle of night because she heard her and she was crawling to the bathroom. She couldn’t get there. You see your 18-year-old daughter that was in such good shape six or eight days before that… She had a tough go for a while.”
Mollie has signed a rowing scholarship with Gonzaga University, where her dad famously led the Bulldogs men’s basketball team to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight in 1999. Monson said she’s still planning on going to Spokane, Wash., when it’s safe.
“She’s in the best shape out of all of us and she couldn’t leave her bedroom for eight days,” Monson said. “I’m giving all that out because I just think it’s important for people to realize that we’re all susceptible to (coronavirus) no matter your age, your health or your conditions. We all have to do our best to try to keep each other safe by staying away from each other.”
Monson has been preaching the same precautions to his team via Zoom calls and text messages for the last few months.
“Did a lightbulb go on for all of them? No. That’s the age where we’re all invincible,” Monson said. “My daughter was invincible. She was still wearing a mask and didn’t go into anybody’s house. We still don’t know how she got it. It’s very complicated. As a team I continue to educate them on this and everything we can.”
The Big West Conference has already postponed its fall athletics schedule until 2021, so that leaves men’s and women’s basketball as the next scheduled season under the microscope.
“We’re going to probably be the first ones back and we have a responsibility for all of the sports to do the best we can to get this back up and running,” Monson said. “Hopefully (my team) can hold each other accountable.”
Currently the best case scenario has Beach basketball players back in the dorms and local apartments by the end of the month. They’ll all be on the same floor and roommates will be workout partners. After a two week quarantine, Monson will start outdoor practice based on health department restrictions.
On the court, LBSU is trying to bounce back from a disappointing season while adding some elite transfer talent. Monson hopes the desire to play again will make everyone more diligent and understanding.
“We live in this society where we think everything should be fair,” Monson said. “Especially in athletics. You’re always fighting for a fair playing field. The new normal is not going to be fair, at least for this year. Some teams will be together longer. Some people are going to handle it better than others and we just need to handle it the best in the Big West.”
All of these reality checks haven’t been lost on Monson, his family and his basketball program.
“I think the biggest thing that I can tell people having gone through it is, it’s real,” Monson said. “I think people think that it’s not going to happen to them or it’s not going to happen to somebody that age. It can. Are you going to take that chance? (Mollie) took that chance and lost.”
PODCAST: Interview With Long Beach State Men’s Basketball Coach Dan Monson