SANTA BARBARA ( — Sport embodies all the greatest elements of the human spirit — love, strength, and courage. For one local basketball coach, that spirit paved the way to success after overwhelming loss.

Kirsten Moore, coach of the Westmont Warriors girls basketball team, experienced unimaginable tragedy, and from it, built triumph.

Moore met her husband, Alex, at Westmont College, a small, Christian liberal arts college in south Santa Barbara. The couple married just outside the chapel on campus.

Weeks before the couple’s first child was due to be born, Alex unexpectedly died at the age of 31, due to a blood clot following colon surgery.

“Time stopped, and it was like I was stuck in a nightmare,” Moore described.

Despite the adversity of tragedy, Moore dug deep and found the strength to begin the daunting task of a new college basketball season, and the girls on the team found no difficulty in rallying around their coach, and her newborn baby girl, Alexis.

“We’re going to get to see her grow up. She has twelve older sisters,” Westmont’s team captain said. “Love and a fighting spirit — those were the two things we played with.”

Baby Alexis became the team’s mascot during the season, as the team played in the national tournament.

Shortly after her husband passed away, Moore found a post-it note in his office. The note had a verse on it.

“It says be strong and courageous and do the work,” Moore said. “Do not be afraid and discouraged.”

The verse is now the team’s motto, sporting wrist bands that read, “Do the work”.

In the face of incredible adversity, the Warriors made history at Westmont College by winning their Division Championship.

Despite the laudable achievement, Moore says the victory is bittersweet.

“There’s mixed emotion in everything that happened,” Moore said. “Some of my hardest days this year were after big wins. Winning was harder than losing.”

When asked why that was the case, Moore responded, “Because Alex is not there to share it with me. He would have been so excited and proud of me.”


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