May 29, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: One coach remembers a friend lost and another uses Kobe’s words to inspire

Crean Lutheran Coach Bianca Ziemann shows a poster that the team had on the bench. Forever Patty refers to Christina Mauser. Patty was her nickname in high school because her last name was Patterson. (Photos Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone)

Players and coaches from Crean Lutheran and Tustin’s girls basketball teams started Tuesday night’s Empire League showdown with heavy hearts.

They were thinking of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna (a promising basketball player), former Orange County coach Christina Mauser and the other six victims of Sunday’s helicopter crash.

To see the slide show, please click on the first photo

Public address announcer Keith Martyn, a Tustin High teacher, asked fans to stand for a moment of silence. Twenty-four seconds were clicked off the scoreboard in honor of the number that Bryant wore as a Laker.

Crean Lutheran Coach Bianca Ziemann indicated it had been a tough week.

“Rachel (her sister and assisant coach) and I lost a really good friend and teammate Christina Mauser in the accident,” she said.

The Ziemann’s played with Mauser when they were teammates at Edison High. Mauser went on to become the top assistant coach for Kobe Bryant’s Mambas girls basketball team.

The team had a poster on the bench which included names of all the victims.

Tustin’s players were inspired by a quote from Kobe Bryant that Coach Claire Gocke put up in at the top of their cubicles in the locker-room. She said her players were saddened about the death of Kobe and his daughter, who had dreams of playing college basketball at UConn, and the deaths of others.

Gocke indicated it was important to remember those who lost lives, including those in the girls basketball community.

“We wanted to take that time (because of) what it means to a lot of people,” she said.

In addition, Gocke used a quote from Kobe to inspire her players.

“Kids get a quote before every game and tonight was a quote from Kobe and how he played with such a stoic attitude and that calmness,” Gocke said. “It’s all about keeping our composure tonight so it was good for them to reflect on that too.”

Ziemann reflected on Mauser after the game, which Tustin won 57-33 to move into first place in the league. She and her sister played with Mauser when they were freshmen at Edison. Mauser also had connections to the Corona del Mar basketball program and worked as a teacher and coach at Harbor Day School. CdM Coach Ryan Schachter reflected on her death earlier this week.

“I was hoping to win, honestly for her tonight,” Ziemann said. “She holds a special place in Rach and my heart. She was our captain, we were freshmen on the varsity team. If you want to talk about someone you looked up to, it was Christina. She was our captain and leader, among two others. She was a fearless leader and honestly, I believe, from the leadership we got from her, I used it throughout life. Always be there, always be smiling, always pick up your teammate, don’t make excuses.”

Despite the loss, Ziemann added:

“But at the end of the day, this is a game and life is more precious.”

Ziemann tried to help her players, sad like many others about the deaths this week, deal with the adversity.

“Life and friendship and family means more than basketball,” she said. “I can go home knowing that I gave my best, the kids gave their best, we didn’t win but my prayers and my energies to the Bryant family and the Altobelli family. But she (Mauser) holds close to my heart because we played ball with her.

“I remember the fun times, going to the hotel, going out to dinner, seeing people later in life with their family and friends.”

-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com