The United States Basketball Writers Association announced today that Westmont Women's Basketball head coach Kirsten Moore has been honored as the recipient of the Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award. According to a USBWA release, "The award stands for inspiration, hope and an undeniable spirit to persevere."
Moore unexpectedly lost her husband Alex, a kinesiology professor at Westmont, in May of 2012 when he passed away from a pulmonary embolism following surgery for Crohn's disease. Seven weeks later, Moore gave birth to a daughter whom she named Alexis in honor of her father.
In August of 2012, Moore met with her team and informed them that she intended to continue coaching. She invited the team to join her in what would doubtless be an emotional journey. The team, as well as the Westmont and Santa Barbara communities, rallied around Moore providing not only emotional support, but very practical support in babysitting, meals, yard work and much more.
In January of 2013, Westmont designated a home game against San Diego Christian as the Alex Moore Classic and raised money to support Moore and Alexis as well as the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America.
On the court, the team started off by winning eight of their first nine games. Just after Christmas, however, the Warriors suffered a setback, losing two games to highly ranked teams by 32 and 33 points on consecutive nights.
Inspired by their coach's perseverance despite crushing circumstances, the team recommitted themselves to "do the work", a theme inspired by a Bible verse found in Alex' office after his death.
The Warriors won their next 17 games, including all 14 Golden State Athletic Conference games to win the GSAC regular season title. After losing in the conference tournament to Vanguard, Westmont entered the NAIA National Championship as one of four number one seeds. Five victories later, Westmont was the national champion.
Moore was named the NAIA National Coach of the Year and senior forward Tugce Canitez of Turkey was named the NAIA Player of the Year and NAIA National Tournament MVP.
In November, Moore was presented with a Musial Award in St. Louis as the winner of the All That's Right in Sports Award. (To watch video of the event, go to Musial Awards Ceremony.)
Moore will be presented with the Pat Summitt Award prior to the semifinals of the NCAA women's Final Four on Sunday, April 6 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn. For the complete release from the USBWA, go to www.sportswriters.net/usbwa.