Coach’s mother and basketball’s supporter passes away at 92
Westmont College basketball has lost its No. 1 fan.
Pat Moore, mother of former Warriors men’s basketball coach John Moore, passed away on Sunday at age 92.
Shortly before her death, she joined her son as an inductee in the Santa Barbara Court of Champions. John Moore was inducted into the Court’s inaugural class of 2014.
“Mom’s fanaticism was legendary and her appreciation for the teamwork in the game of basketball was unparalleled,” said John, who served as Westmont’s head coach from 1993 until last spring. “Her deepest love was secured for Westmont Warrior basketball.”
Pat Moore earned both a nickname and the 2003 News-Press headline of “Passionate Pat” from Dave Loveton, the team’s beat writer at the time.
“My mom has been passionate about the game of basketball and supported all four of her children,” said John Moore, who played at Los Alamitos High and Cypress College before starring as a point guard at Westmont from 1976 to 1978.
His first basketball memory of his mother came during his time at Los Alamitos.
“I remember people kind of gawking at her,” Moore said. “She would wait until it was quiet and pick the most opportune moment to let the officials know they made the wrong call.
“I’ve never seen anyone quite like my mom.”
One of her go-to lines was, “Try using your good eye next time.”
Before moving to Santa Barbara six years ago, Pat Moore would hitch rides to Westmont’s games from the parents of players who lived in Orange County.
“Her support of the Warriors goes all the way back to 1976, and her memories about favorite teams, players and moments continue to astound me,” Moore said.
His 422 assists in just two seasons still ranks fourth all-time at Westmont. He returned to the school to set its record for basketball coaching victories with 588 during 27 seasons. His younger brother, Michael, also played for the Warriors from 1983 to 1985. Their oldest brother, Craig, had been a standout swimmer and football player.
Pat Moore’s only daughter, Beth, played on UCLA’s NCAA championship women’s basketball team of 1978. Pat most recently cheered on the Cate girls’ basketball team, which is now coached by Beth’s daughter, Laura Beth Moore.
John Moore said his mother’s passion for basketball was rooted in her Indiana youth.
“My mom was born a Hoosier in Milroy,” he said. “Hoosiers are fanatical about the game of basketball. Mom would say that every barn in Indiana had a basketball hoop attached to it.
“She claimed that her first game was watched from her mother’s arms as a 2-year-old in 1930, transfixed as her father, J.M. Cowan, played on one of the barnstorming basketball teams that would become the precursor to today’s NBA.”
She cheered on John’s teams as fervently during his first five years as a head coach at Fresno Pacific as she did at Westmont.
Moore recalled an incident 30 years ago during a game at Southern California College — now known as Vanguard University — in which his mother ran onto the court to argue a traveling call. When the official called a technical foul, Pat tried to fool him into assessing the penalty to the other team.
“She goes over and sits next to SCC coach Bill Reynolds and acts like she’s with their team,” Moore said. “The ploy didn’t work.”
“I can’t get away with anything,” his mother said at the time. “All the refs know me.”
Moore’s future wife, Rachel, sat with “Passionate Pat” for the first time during a game at Fresno while she was still dating her son.
“Just as it begins, everyone moves back four or five rows, away from Pat and me,” she recalled. “I thought, “Where’s everybody going?’”
Rachel figured it out after the first perceived bad call.
“I stayed with her the whole game,” she said, “because I wanted to get a ring on my finger.”
When John Moore started coaching at Westmont, he noticed one of his players arising from his own seat on the bench.
“Where are you going?” he asked.
“There’s this crazy lady sitting behind me,” the player replied.
“That crazy lady’s my mom,” Moore said.
The player bit his lip and said, “There goes my playing time.”
By the turn of the century, Pat Moore’s reputation at Westmont had become the stuff of legend. Several students even escorted her from the reserved section behind the Warriors’ bench to their rooting section across the court during the final, climactic seconds of a sold-out game against arch-rival Biola.
“All of a sudden, there was a thunderous roar,” coach Moore recalled. “I can never remember being distracted in a timeout before. It was a completely unexpected sight as I lifted my head and noticed my mom being guided, a student on each side of her, across the floor to her newly designated seat.
“By the time she made it to the half-court line, there was pandemonium in the gym. I think even the Biola fans were appreciating the moment.”
The Warriors seized upon the fervor to pull out a last-second victory. From then on, “Grandma Pat,” as she was affectionately known by the students, became a fixture in their rooting section.
“We saw her at the games and she was louder than we were,” said Jeremiah Kiely, a Westmont baseball pitcher at the time and one of the students who recruited her to their section. “We decided she’s got to come sit with us.”
Although retired from coaching, John Moore remains at Westmont as an associate athletic director and associate professor of kinesiology. He believes his mother’s spirit will live on there, as well.
“She loved being in Murchison Gymnasium,” he said. “It became a second home to her.”