Basketball Coach Welliver retires after 35 years at Cerritos

Lauren Torres

Cerritos sent longtime faculty member and basketball coach Karen Welliver off into retirement with a heartfelt goodbye on Thursday, May 7 in the gymnasium’s team room.

“It just ended up feeling like the time,” Welliver said about the decision to retire.

The teacher and coach of 35 years started off as an assistant coach, taught health for a number of years and eventually became a head coach.

Welliver is also one of the only two coaches within the community colleges to pass the 600-win mark.

“She’ll be greatly missed,” Erica McLennan, the physical education/athletics division secretary, said.

McLennan spent several weeks planning and putting together the party.

The party started off with an informal division-only luncheon and ended with an open-campus party with cake, decorations, refreshments, a slideshow and a gift basket for Welliver that sat at a table on display.

“At first it was like ‘oh my gosh, I’m going to miss everything’,” Welliver said.

She added, “But now I’m getting more excited, looking forward to the new adventures. This is just an awesome party, these people have been my family for so long […] it makes you feel good, I’ve been very blessed to have been able to work at Cerritos all these years, it’ such a wonderful school.”

The guests varied from current and retired faculty to current students and alumni.

Two alumni, Elizabeth Espinoza and Eric Spence, who both played on Welliver’s team in the 90s, were there to show support and say their thank yous.

Espinoza said, “I just want to thank her for all the guidance, the coaching, the training the time she spent with us, the fun memories she provided us.”

“She was such a role model to all of us,” Spence, now an LAPD officer, said, ”we learned how to work hard, how to push past our comfort zone, and really go after life […] she helped me to get where I [am] today.”

Espinoza, who brought flowers for Welliver, added, “There’s only a few coaches in your life that make an impact on the person who you are, and Karen is one of those for me […] just the mental toughness, the training [coaches] provide you allows you to conquer anything you want in life, so, my props to Karen.”

One of the perks of retiring, at least for Welliver, was the jam-packed gift basket received, which included waterproof speakers, beach towels, gift cards and movie tickets among other items.

Having been on campus so long, Welliver cannot pick one moment among the many great ones during her career.

“There are so many games, like last-second shots and things like that. I think even just some of the impact [a teacher] has on regular students, like encouraging someone to go to the health center if they need someone to talk to, or [influencing] someone to quit smoking, things like that really stick out to you.”

Welliver said about her plans after retirement, “My husband and I like to
go on vacations and travel, water-ski and fish, stuff like that, so we’ll do
some of that […] maybe some volunteer work, not really sure. We’ll see what
happens.”