SBART: Westmont women’s hoops is about grit and gratitude

Westmont women’s basketball coach Kirsten Moore likes to create a theme for her team to focus on each season.

This year’s theme is “grit and gratitude,” she told the crowd at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon.

The origin of the theme comes from a chapter of Moore’s life.

“This summer, when I reflected on my journey over the last 2½ years, gratitude really came to the forefront as something that I think has helped me,” she said. “To be able to have victory even through hard times in my life, was choosing to remain grateful.”

Kirsten Moore - Westmont Women's Basketball Head Coach

Westmont women’s basketball coach Kirsten Moore

In May of 2012, Moore lost her husband, Alex, from a pulmonary embolism following surgery for Crohn’s disease. Seven weeks later their daughter, Alexis, was born. The Westmont and Santa Barbara communities rallied to help her and the baby as she continued to coach. She guided her team to the NAIA National title in 2013.

Moore said she and her team talk about grit and gratitude every day.

She said she’s researched how gratitude effects people.

“It’s unbelievable at what science has now proven about what grateful hearts and grateful spirits actually produces,” she said. “There are physical benefits to it, psychological benefits, physiological benefits, all these different things that are benefits of having a grateful spirit.”

She encouraged everyone to keep that in mind not just during the week of Thanksgiving but every day throughout their lives.

“We do have a lot to be thankful for,” she said.

As for her team, the Warriors are 6-0 going into Tuesday night’s home game against Cal State San Marcos.


Westmont: Coach Kristi Kiely wants to spend more time with her baby, but she’s not complaining that her team is keeping her from doing it.

“I told them I have a 4 1/2 month old I can’t wait to spend time with, but I’m not done spending time with this particular group yet either,” she said. “I feel fortunate to be able to do both because (the players) embrace both the mom and the coach. They’re 25 moms as well.”

The Warriors are off to Orange Beach, Ala., site for the remaining rounds of the NAIA National Tournament. The Warriors play Martin Methodist, Tenn., in a second-round match next Tuesday, Dec. 2. The quarterfinals are the following day and the semifinals and final are scheduled Friday and Saturday, Dec. 5-6.

“Hopefully, I’ll be able to have another two more weeks with this group,” she said.

Westmont is on a roll, having outscored its opponents 37-3 since Sept. 30. The Warriors routed their national tourney first-round opponent, Ottawa, Kan., 5-0.

Cate setter Hannah Barr helped the Rams win the CIF 4A volleyball title.

Cate setter Hannah Barr helped the Rams win the CIF 4A volleyball title.

Westmont has won its last two meetings with Martin Methodist, in the second round oflast year’s NAIA Tournament and earlier this season in a tournament in Kentucky.

“We have few cards stacked against us, but we’re on a roll right now. Hopefully, we can take that into this game,” said Kiely.


Cate: Assistant coach KC Collins expressed her gratitude on being back at the press luncheon to report on the Rams winning a CIF championship.

“The whole season has been an incredibly great ride,” she said.

Collins explained that the team goal was to get beyond the semifinals, where they lost in five sets last season.

“I didn’t realize how lofty that was,” she said. “What it turned out to be was a focus point for us to look at all aspects of what we were doing, and it wasn’t anything specific. And what came out of it has been amazing.”

Cate has lost only one set in a full match this season and that was in the final against Duarte. It’s record is 51-1.

The Rams’ season continues Tuesday night with a state tournament game in Fowler in the Central Valley.


SBCC: Coach Scott Fickerson said he had the biggest group of local athletes on his men’s team and felt good about it. But he lost four of his top seven during the course of the season.

It didn’t matter. The Vaqueros enjoyed a good season. Alex Heuchert finished fourth at the State Meet and the team placed seventh, its best finish in program history.

“The core group we had and the depth we had, they stayed positive, rallied around each other and kept their eye on the ball, which was be top 10 in state,” said Fickerson.

On Heuchert, the coach said the San Marcos alum was “incredibly trusting since Day 1. He’s a true representation of hard work pays off.

Alex Heuchert finished fourth at the State Cross Country Championships.

Alex Heuchert finished fourth at the State Cross Country Championships.

“He was consistent,” Fickerson added. “I never doubted how he’d run week to week. I knew he’d always be up there pushing the pace, running what he was capable of , and as the level of competition goes up, he performs better and better.”

Fickerson said the women’s team had only nine runners, but they met their goal of qualifying for state. “Not only did they get there they ran their best race.”


San Marcos: Landon Boucher made his luncheon debut as coach of the Royals.
He said after 20 practices the boys are ready to play another team. They open Tuesday at Pioneer Valley and them face Nipomo at home Saturday.

Boucher introduced Peter Durak, saying the senior made a big transformation as a player and person after a seniors-only meeting in the summer.

“As coaches, you guys know that’s what makes it special, to see a player or players make the sacrifices and make the commitment and see all the hard work pay off,” said Boucher.


Carpinteria: Coach Dan Mercer brought two of his standout sophomores, point guard Tori Kelley and post player Annalisa DeAlba. Kelley was a first-team all-Frontier League pick last season.

“She’s developing as a leader,” Mercer said. “She plays with confidence and is a hard worker.”

He said DeAlba does the “dirty work” like rebound and guard the big post players. “She does the things coaches appreciate. She has a great work ethic and attitude.”

The Warriors open their season next week at the Fillmore Tournament.


Carpinteria: The Warriors have the core of their team returning, but they’ll be missing five key players for the first couple weeks of the season because they’re playing at a national tournament in North Carolina, coach Leo Quintero reported.

The Warriors face a challenging pre-league schedule and will play all the matches on the road. Their first home game is Jan. 2.

“It will be a challenge for our boys to fight for wins on the road,” said Quintero.


Carpinteria: Assistant coach Lucy Carleton introduced two members of the defense, Megan Durflinger and Eliana Morgan.

Carleton said Durflinger brings toughness to the back line. “She’s clean, but running into her is like running into a wall.”

She said Morgan is a responsible player and never gives up.


Westmont: Coach John Moore reported that senior captain Jared Wilson was lost for the season with a foot injury. He called Wilson one of the greatest leaders he’s had in the program.

Moore said he’s looking for his young players to grow up fast as GSAC play begins next week against Vanguard.