by Ed Riley
When you meet Miles and Mozeek Waggener you first notice just how tall these brothers are. Miles, at 23, is an impressive 6 feet 9 inches. Mozeek, at 21, is the shorter of the two measuring in at 6 feet 8 inches. You might next notice that both have multiple tattoos, including each other’s name on their arms, and their jersey numbers on their legs.Both play on Centralia College’s basketball team. Their tattoos and their stature could be a little intimidating until you talk to them. They qualify as two of the nicest, and most polite young men that you will ever meet. They are soft spoken, with noticeable southern accents, acquired while growing up in Beaumont, Texas.
What impressed me the most about these two men, is just how focused they truly are. The Waggener brothers know what they want in life, and they have clear plans on how to achieve it.
In 2011, the pair moved to the Centralia area and enrolled in college to focus on education and basketball; both hope to continue athletic careers but are working on another goal that tells more about their character than rebounds and points scored: Their goal is to help single mothers, troubled youth, and those less fortunate to search out a more positive lifestyle. That career will likely be fashioned out of their criminal justice and business studies.
Miles, who transferred to Centralia College from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, says he will eventually return to McNeese State University to finish his degree but for now both brothers are studying criminal justice. Miles, by the way, played college football as a tight end and was one semester from earning his bachelor’s degree in business. He put McNeese on hold for a while to play basketball with his brother.
These brothers push each other on and off the court; they are impressive students with GPAs that top 3.9. The Waggeners are on scholarship for their academic achievements. They are known on the basketball court as Tic ‘n Tac, nicknames given them by their father to reflect how well the two go together.
When I asked Miles about adjustments he made transferring from a large college, he responded with a resounding, “At Centralia, you are a name not a number. The classes are small, and you get one-on-one attention from your instructors. At McNeese the classes were huge, your instructor may not even know your name.”
Their father Derrick Waggener, and sister DeErica Waggener moved to the area as well. Like the brothers, their father was a basketball player. He helped lead his team to state in 1984 at Seward Community College in Liberal, Kansas. When asked why they chose to relocate to Centralia, Mr. Waggener said, “The Lord led us here. I researched rural colleges where the boys could get a good education, and have an opportunity to play ball together, and Centralia is the door that God opened.” Mr. Waggener ministers at churches throughout the region. When asked what it’s been like moving to the Pacific Northwest from Texas, Miles and Mozeek both say, “It’s been a culture shock. We aren’t used to seeing so many trees and mountains.” They also commented on the Northwest rain, “This isn’t rain, it’s just drizzle. When it rains in Texas, it really pours.”
It is apparent that this is a family that truly love and support each other, and when it comes down to it they aren’t just brothers, they are friends. The also praised their teammates, and especially their coach Jason Moir for helping them to settle in this area. “Our coach went the extra mile, helping us to find housing and jobs. We love it here at the college, and we love Centralia.”