Mossyrock Boys Basketball Coach Willing to be Let Go Rather Than Get Vaccinated

TAKING A STAND: Three-Year Coach Adam Deck Has Rebuilt a Struggling Vikings Team; Now He Risks Losing it All Over a Decision to Remain Unvaccinated


Adam Deck is no stranger to COVID-19. Both his parents contracted it and survived. His grandmother passed away two weeks after being hospitalized by COVID-19. Deck may have had it himself when he was sick back in March 2020 when the pandemic first started gaining traction, but was unable to get tested at the time.

Deck, 41, of Napavine, is entering his third year as the Mossyrock boys basketball coach. He was hired in 2019 to help rejuvenate a program that won just three total games in the three years before he arrived. Now he might not get a chance to see his rebuild through.

On Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced a sweeping vaccine mandate for all educators at public, private and charter schools. Save for medical or religious exemptions, all staff must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18, or face termination. With no regular-testing alternative, the order is stricter than many other vaccine mandates throughout the country.

Deck, who is unwilling to take a vaccine, took to Twitter on Wednesday to express his views about the new mandate.

“My goal was to build a program that would make my community proud,” Deck wrote using Mossyrock Viking Basketball’s Twitter account. “I wanted to build this program back to be respectable and make our gym a tough place to play again. I’m saddened to be cut off from those goals. I’m saddened to be stripped of my freedoms.

“I’ve put in so much effort, time, and money into rebuilding this program. I had big dreams and goals for my program, my current and future players. It’s a sad day for me and, I’m sure, many others to come. Being forced to do something I’m not comfortable doing is wrong.”

Deck, in an interview with The Chronicle Thursday, said there are a host of reasons why he won’t get the vaccine and ensure he’s able to keep coaching a team he’s put his heart and soul into the past three years.

First and foremost, he does not believe in vaccinations, plain and simple.

Deck hasn’t had a vaccination since getting a flu shot back in elementary school. He missed just three days of school in 12 years and that was due to having chicken pox.

“I am not about vaccinations,” Deck said. “I don’t want to say I’m never sick but rarely have I ever been sick. I’ve been blessed with good health; not everybody is. I guess I’ll take my 98.2% chance  of surviving without those things.”

Deck wants to make it clear that he’s not being reckless. His girlfriend of nine years has Crohn’s disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease. With her lowered immune system, the couple have been very careful not to expose her to COVID, he said.

Another big problem he has with the vaccine is it isn’t FDA-approved yet and he feels it hasn’t been properly vetted for long-term effects. Deck and his sister have dealt with repercussions from medical complications in the past.

When he was 15 years old and his sister 14, the siblings each began taking Accutane, a medication used to treat severe acne. They had their blood drawn every two weeks to ensure the medication wasn’t affecting their liver or kidneys.

Eleven years later, at 25 years old, his sister was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease, which was later traced back to being caused by Accutane. She would end up having her large intestine removed and has an inner pouch now made out of her small intestine to collect waste. She will eventually have a colostomy bag outside of her body.

Deck, luckily, never faced the outcome his sister did, but he does deal with some digestive issues from taking the drug. He’s not opposed to other people getting the vaccine, he just doesn’t think it’s the right decision for him.

“This was over 10 years later, so you never know what could happen down the road,” Deck said. “I just don’t trust (the vaccine). I’m going to trust my body to fight it and that’s my story. People might not have stories like that but I don’t trust anything that hasn’t been proven to work.”

Deck’s next step is applying for the religious exemption, something he hopes will go through. But if he’s unable to be granted it, he said he’d rather be fired or let go rather than get the vaccine.

“I am religious, I read my bible, I am a Christian,” Deck said. “I do not attend a certain church regularly. I live in a small enough town in Lewis County so I don’t think people will have too much of a problem with it. It wouldn’t be fake because I am a full believer in Jesus Christ. That’s not something I’d be using to lie. There will be people, I’m sure, out there who will use that to keep their jobs.”

Deck, a 1998 Mossyrock graduate, has put everything into the Vikings basketball team the past three years. Mossyrock won its first district game in five years after a victory over Mary M. Knight in a district-playoff opener on June 3 before falling in the district semifinals four days later. The Vikings, which didn’t have one positive COVID test this past season, ended their year with an 11-6 record. The 11 wins were more than the previous five years combined.

Most recently, he helped raise $4,000 for the school district’s basketball program through a charity golf tournament to pay for basketball camps and help fund the fifth and sixth grade teams.

Leaving the team and players he’s built a connection with these past few years would not be easy, Deck admits. He knows the school district has no say in the mandate, he’s just frustrated at potentially losing all the heart and work he’s put in. He’d make the 70-minute round trip drive to the high school to let one kid in the gym. The paycheck he gets for being the head coach doesn’t even cover the gas money it takes for him to travel to and from practice.

“This is my dream job,” Deck said. “I love coaching, I’ve given everything I have to coaching. I pour money into this program and this community that I was raised by and that I love. I love the kids and I’ve made some great connections.

“Coaching’s great but helping these kids become men is exactly what my coach did for me, and is probably why I wanted to be a coach. I love being a part of a family. If choosing to use that exemption is going to help me stay as head coach, then I will do that.”