“I’m in the weight room right now, but is 6:30 a good time?” read the message.
Let this serve as a cautionary text to those who hope to spend time with Golden Valley senior Stephanie Moore before she takes her brilliance to UC San Diego in the fall.
Do you lift? You better.
Along with being The Bee’s All-District Girls Basketball Player of the Year, Moore is a weight room warrior, which helps explain the jump by Golden Valley since her arrival.
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It was the most emotional game I played in my entire time at GV, knowing that was my last game with my sister (Delia Moore) and my team. If we had rolled over and given up, that would have hurt even worse.
Stephanie Moore, Golden Valley senior, on the season-ending loss to Folsom
A native of Merced, Moore transferred from Modesto Christian following the Crusaders’ run to a CIF State championship in 2013. She enrolled at Golden Valley and immediately changed the Cougars’ stars.
A program that had gone 31-101 in the previous five seasons was suddenly transformed into a two-time Central California Conference champion.
Moore helped the Cougars (24-5) put the finishing touches on another perfect conference run this season and earn their first Sac-Joaquin Section playoff victory in 10 years, defeating Franklin of Stockton 68-52.
“We were bouncing back,” Golden Valley coach Matt Thissen said, “but she definitely accelerated the bounce-back.”
More importantly, Thissen said Moore has left an indelible mark on the program’s culture. The player who trained as if she already were in college had convinced the others to come along.
Where there was one weight-room warrior at the start of the season, by season’s end there were 14 lifting, stretching and sitting in ice baths.
“What has impressed me the most – and it was right from the get-go – was her work ethic,” Thissen said. “She has a motor that doesn’t stop. It doesn’t matter if she’s in the gym or in the weight room – she goes.
“She’s constantly working and striving to get better. I’ve had some really good players over the years but no one that went at it every single day in the weight room and practice like she does. She treats everything like it’s a game.”
Golden Valley senior Stephanie Moore is headed to UC San Diego, where the class valedictorian will study bio engineering. Moore will play basketball for Heidi VanDerveer, the younger sister of Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer of Stanford.
And the ambidextrous 5-foot-10 guard, the one who answers to valedictorian elsewhere on campus, is usually the winner.
Moore averaged 18.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.2 steals and 1.1 blocks in her final season. She scored in double figures in 27 games, including a season-high 32 points against Mt. Carmel at the SoCal Holiday Prep Classic. In four games at the prestigious San Diego-area tournament, Moore averaged 26 points.
That trip also marked the debut of Moore’s left-handed runner. A natural righty, Moore spent the months leading up to the season working on her shotmaking ability. She became comfortable using both hands and shooting off any spot on the backboard.
“She put on a show,” Thissen said of the holiday tournament, a run that also coincided with his 300th career victory. “One of the referees said, ‘The biggest compliment I can give a female player is to say she played like a guy out there.’ He meant that in a positive, complimentary way.”
No offense taken.
Moore is a regular at the boys’ open gym, where high school and collegiate players gather. She has challenged herself in preparation for her freshman season at UC San Diego, where she’ll play for Heidi VanDerveer and a program that reached the NCAA Division II West Regional.
32 Golden Valley senior Stephanie Moore’s season-high points against Mt. Carmel in the SoCal Holiday Prep Classic.
“This past summer, I worked on things to become more of a threat,” she said. “My junior year, I would drive to the basket and hoped I wouldn’t get the charge. So I worked a lot on my jump-stopping and pull-ups and three-pointers. I’ve always had the green light but wasn’t always a shooter.”
Befitting her team-first mentality, Moore’s most memorable game was one of her worst. She had just 11 points and two rebounds in a season-ending 44-41 loss to Folsom in the Division I quarterfinals.
However, Golden Valley’s ability to push the Bulldogs – a section semifinalist and Northern California regional qualifier – until the final whistle inspired the two-time Central California Conference MVP.
“Nobody had their best game, but I’m proud of how the team played. We definitely battled,” she said. “It was the most emotional game I played in my entire time at GV, knowing that was my last game with my sister (Delia Moore) and my team.
“If we had rolled over and given up, that would have hurt even worse.”
“Quit” is no longer a word associated with the Cougars, who draw confidence from their strength-and-conditioning program.
Under the guidance of trainer Marcello Martinelli, Golden Valley has adopted a regimen on par with most colleges. Moore and fellow captain Naomi Peterson committed early.
“At (Modesto Christian), we didn’t have our own personal strength trainer. Martinelli is amazing,” Moore said. “When I got there, it was like college. I was like, I’m going to utilize this.”
A big difference is how she leads not only on the basketball court, but in the weight room. She holds everyone accountable.
Matt Thissen, Golden Valley girls basketball coach, on senior Stephanie Moore
Soon the program was lifting … without much oversight from Thissen. When the weather turned, Moore even organized “ice baths” for the team in the shallow end of her pool.
“A big difference is how she leads not only on the basketball court, but in the weight room,” Thissen said. “She holds everyone accountable. The girls lift, stretch and take ice baths every day. Stephanie bought into that program and makes sure everyone knew when we’re lifting.”
And when she’d be home.
“6:30,” read the text message.