Kirsten Moore is Round Table’s college coach of the year
Kirsten Moore coached Westmont to a 27-3 record, a Golden State Athletic Conference regular season title and a fifth straight GSAC Tournament championship. The team finished ranked No. 1 in the NAIA. (Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table graphic)

Kirsten Moore has coached the Westmont women’s basketball program to a NAIA National Championship

What she accomplished this past season ranks right up there with winning a national title.

Moore lost her leading rebounder and second-leading scorer from the 2018-19 conference championship season to a torn ACL during preseason workouts.

She hit the reset button, and the team regrouped and responded in big way. The seven underclassmen and one senior, who averaged 5-foot-5 in height, worked for each other, played with great intensity and joy and went on to experience an amazing season.

The squad went 27-3, won the regular season Golden State Athletic Conference title, a fifth straight GSAC Tournament championship and, for the first time in program history, received the overall No. 1 seed for the NAIA National Tournament.

Kirsten Moore celebrates after Westmont wins 5th straight GSAC title

Kirsten Moore celebrates after her Warriors won their fifth straight GSAC Tournament title.  (Westmont College photo)

The Warriors unfortunately weren’t able to play for a national title because the tournament was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, they finished as the top-ranked team in the nation.

The Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table is recognizing Moore for the phenomenal job she did this season by naming her the College Coach of the Year.

“I see this award as an award that’s honoring what our program did this year; what my players did on the court, what our staff — my assistant coaches Selena English and Jill Heckman— did to help me, as we tried to lead this group to be their best this year,” said Moore.

“It was really an incredible year. We overcame things of adversity that came at us.”

A key to the team’s success was Moore urged her players to turn negatives into positives and focus on the things they could control.

Maud Ranger, the team’s lone senior, said the players were drawn together by Moore’s fighting spirit.

“She is a fighter, so how could we not follow her and fight as a team?” said Ranger.

The bond the players formed was unbreakable. 

“Everyone on this team is so willing to give everything they have for the benefit of the team,” said junior guard and co-captain Lauren Tsuneishi. “It is so unusual to have the whole team working towards making each other better. It isn’t about a single person or padding stats. It is about, ‘What can I do for my teammates and how can I make them better?’ That is something super unique about this team.”

Westmont Athletic Director Dave Odell was amazed at how Moore’s Warriors overcame from adversity and put together a fantastic season.

“I know I am saying this about someone who has been national coach of the year and a national champion during her career, but in my mind, this was Coach Moore’s most astounding year in her time at Westmont,” said Odell. “After losing her tallest and very talented post just weeks before the season, she had to improvise and innovate. In the end she led a very young and very undersized team to incredible heights.”

He added: “Kirsten’s ability to get her teams to embrace a team concept is quite remarkable, but the way this team battled was incredible; their toughness will always be what I remember them for.

“Coach has a way of transplanting her own heart into her players and they respond to the love and care she demonstrates toward them.”

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.