John Moore fell in love with the local sports community the moment he arrived in Santa Barbara to further his education and play basketball at Westmont College.
He later became the coach of the Warriors, guided them for 27 seasons and became the winningest coach in program history before stepping down this past season.
In all his years in Santa Barbara, Moore has continually given shout-outs to the community for its support of local sports at all levels. In public appearances, he constantly reminds young athletes, their parents and coaches how special it is to play and coach sports in this town.
The Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, one of Moore’s favorite organizations, is paying tribute to him by naming its College Coach of the Year Award in his honor.
From here on out, the honoree will be presented the John Moore College Coach of the Year Award at the SBART’s end-of-the-sports-year Evening with the Athletes.
“We had a board meeting on Tuesday, and (the vote) was unanimous. People were really excited that we were going to name this after John,” said Gary Cunningham, chairman of the board for the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, the former assistant to the legendary John Wooden at UCLA and later head coach of the Bruins.
Cunningham noted that Moore had 30 winning seasons in 32 years as a college basketball, the 27 at Westmont and the other three at Fresno Pacific University.
He was 558-278 (.667) at Westmont and took his teams to 14 NAIA national tournament appearances. This past season, he was named the NAIA Coach of the Year, the first Westmont coach to receive the prestigious honor.
Cunningham contacted Moore about the honor and said, “He was just overwhelmed that we would even consider him. I told him, ‘You came to the Round Table meetings for so many years, you were always praising other coaches and athletes. You kind of wound it up for everybody. You’re very deserving.’”
Said Moore: “To have this award named after me is an honor. When Gary Cunningham called me yesterday, I just thought he was calling to get lunch together. When he said what he said, I was flabbergasted. I was shocked. I just couldn’t believe it.”
Moore was a regular attendee at the weekly SBART press luncheons and paid close attention to what was being said. Before it was his turn to speak about Westmont basketball, he’d find a piece of paper — sometimes a napkin — and jot down notes as student athletes were recognized for special achievements and coaches recapped their recent games and talked about the athletes they brought to the luncheon.
When his turn at the podium arrived, he’d rattle off praise for the award winners, hand out compliments to coaches and joke with other basketball coaches in the audience.
“What the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table does is so different than in any other city. This is very uncommon and something that is very unique to the city of Santa Barbara. To be a part of it in this way is stunning and it is a great privilege, so I’m thankful for that.”
Said Cunninghan: “He loves the community, he loves people and really cares about his players,” Cunningham said. “John is not in it for John. He really cares about these guys.”
Cunningham added that Moore “represented all good things with young people and mentoring them. He is a community servant, and he’s a good teacher, too.”
All the qualities that are fitting for a coach of the year.