A moment of silence was held Saturday in Titan Gym prior to tip-off at Cal State Fullerton’s first women’s basketball game since second-year assistant coach Monica Quan was found dead.
The team wore long sleeve orange shirts that read “MOtivation” on the front for Quan’s nickname, “Coach Mo,” during their warm-up routines. The shirts also read “It is the courage to continue that counts” on the back.
Both teams wore orange ribbons pinned to their jerseys during game play to honor the late coach.
Other Titan athletes, including members of the men’s basketball team, attended to show their support.
The emotional game against UC Riverside came six days after Quan, 28, and her fiancé Keith Lawrence, 27, were found dead inside a parked car in the parking structure of their Irvine condominium.
Police suspect Christopher Dorner, a former Los Angeles police officer, who was reportedly represented in a disciplinary hearing by Quan’s father Randy Quan, a former LAPD captain and lawyer, that ultimately led to his dismissal from the force.
In a document posted on Dorner’s Facebook, it was revealed that Randal Quan and members of LAPD were his targets.
A memorial was set up at the entrance of the gym, with photos of Quan surrounded by a wreath of flowers and a guestbook for fans to write messages.
“We can’t begin to tell you what if feels like to function without a part of your family here,” said Head Coach Marcia Foster.
Titan center forward Jessica Palmer said the team has been coping with the loss of their coach over the last few days by spending time together and having team sleepovers and cook-offs.
“We share stories a lot like all the things we remember and the funny things, the bus rides. We’ve all had really funny interesting conversations,” said Palmer.
Despite Quan’s absence, the Titans continue to push forward.
Team captain Alex Thomas said their first game back on the court was difficult. The team used this tragic experience as “motivation and fuel.”
“There’s just a lot of emotions that come into it—not being able to look down the line and see her there standing up there with us,” she said. “I was glad to be up there with my teammates and with my family but it was hard not having her with us.”
Thomas said Quan would have been proud of the team’s effort, despite the 64-45 loss to the Highlanders.
“She would have been proud of us coming out and being there and trying to stay focused but she definitely would have wanted us to pay attention to the little things a little bit more,” Thomas said.
While dealing with the loss has been difficult, Foster said the team has had a great deal of support from the administration, college coaches from around the country and the NCAA—people who knew and did not know Quan.
“Monica was loved,” Foster said. “She was good people and people know that.”
Foster said she was introduced to Quan four years ago as a potential assistant coach, but the team did not have any openings at the time.
After watching Quan grow as an assistant for two years at Cal Lutheran, Foster said she was impressed by her work ethic, professionalism and hired her as soon as a spot opened up.
“She was bright, driven and loved basketball and was passionate about teaching young women the game and about life,” Foster said, adding that Quan would have made a fantastic head coach someday.
“That’s what’s so hard about it all; there was so much life for her to live, so much left for her to do,” Foster said.
By Nereida Moreno