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Kelsey Moos brought winning mentality and unparalleled leadership to ASU women's basketball

The soon-to-be Sun Devil alumna has had a remarkable career driven by her home-grown work ethic

Kelsey Moos

Photo by Josh Orcutt. Illustration published on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. 

Kelsey Moos grew up on a farm as the youngest of four children in Edwall, Washington.

There were no city lights or busy streets. There was no Mill Avenue on a Friday night. There was no electric Sun Devil Stadium on a Saturday evening in the fall. The nearest grocery store was 45 minutes away. Her high school graduating class was under 100 students. 

To put things in perspective, Moos' family of six made up for about one whole percent of the Edwall population of 594.

But there's no way she would have traded it for anything.

"If I could go back and do it again, I would take every single day of life on a farm that I had," Moos said. "I'm super, super, super, super thankful and grateful that I had those opportunities. Something that was really special about our farm was it was a family farm, so it was all of us pitching in, working together, wherever we could help. It was just great to be able to work every single day with your family."

The ASU women’s basketball team shares the same sentiment, as fellow senior Sophie Brunner attested.

"She's just such a big part of our team," Brunner said. "It doesn't show as much as it should. She's not going to have these huge numbers on the stat sheet or anything like that – she doesn't really care about that – but she's kind of the glue to our team, she just holds us all together."

From the day Moos made her way to Tempe in 2013 – along with fellow classmates Brunner and Quinn Dornstauder – it was clear there was something special about her.

It wasn’t necessarily something on the court, although the 6-foot-tall forward's athleticism and basketball savvy were always certainly impressive, not to mention three consecutive Washington state titles each in basketball and volleyball at Reardan High School.

According to coaches, what made Moos special from day one, and continues to do so four years later, was her work ethic – the kind of work ethic that earns two degrees in four years, both with stellar GPAs. 

The kind of work ethic developed, of course, on a family farm.

"It just teaches you life lessons from a really young age," Moos said. "You learn work ethic at a really young age, you learn discipline, you learn teamwork."

When Moos committed to play for the Sun Devils during an ASU elite camp in June of her junior year of high school, head coach Charli Turner Thorne knew she had a talented player coming in that would make a major impact on the court and the stat sheet.

And while she was certainly right about that, it instead was Moos’ character, leadership ability and drive that ended up being most impactful.

"I think the ultimate compliment to Kelsey is her biggest impact is as a leader," Turner Thorne said. "I kid you not, she is spot on with what to say in every situation, every single time. A lot of times, when she speaks, I don't think I could articulate as well as she does, I mean it. That level of influence in leadership is invaluable. It's more valuable than points and rebounds and all that other stuff."

For Moos, growing up on a farm with her family, a major role in her childhood and now adult life has always been her faith. 

Having grown up in a small-town church, she quickly developed a faith that could be relied on in the highs – like earning a starting position as a freshman and helping lead her to team to multiple NCAA Tournament wins – and the lows.

"(My faith) is huge, it's who I am," Moos said. "Moving away from family and everything, you have to rely on your faith a little bit more, and then in times of adversity. I think that's one of the biggest things that just stands out to me."

While those lows on the court haven't been all that overwhelming over the last four years for a player whose career record at ASU is 95-33, the lowest of them all happened just eight weeks prior to what will be her final game at Wells Fargo Arena. 

On Jan. 1, Moos went down with a foot injury in a double-overtime win over California. At that point, the reality set in that a player who had started all but two games through her first three years would have to miss over a third of her final season.

The Sun Devils certainly missed her spark, going 6-6 in that stretch. Wins and losses aside, Moos attested to the fact that the six weeks she spent sidelined were undoubtedly the most difficult of her career. 

Fortunately for Moos, she could lean on her faith and her teammates. 

"It was probably the most challenging mental time I've ever had," she said. "I'm not going to lie, it was really, really, really tough for me mentally just to try to grasp all of it, like, 'Why is this happening? Why my senior year? Why does it have to happen like this?' But at the end of the day, I just really believed in my teammates and they really supported me ... and then I just relied really, really heavily on my faith as well."

Moos, who finally returned from her foot injury in a loss at Arizona, is in a position to lead her team into the NCAA Tournament with just two regular season games and a trip to Seattle for the Pac-12 Tournament remaining. 

The goal all season has been to make a run in March. Now that Moos is back, she's certainly looking to help her core of seniors – the one that has led this team all season and consists of those Moos considers her "best friends" – reach a fitting end to an illustrious four-year run.

After that's all over and done with, then the reality can set in that their careers have come full circle. 

"I can't even put it into words honestly," Moos said. "I think it's been really fun to just notice the change year after year. You don't really realize it but when you look back, you look at the freshman Sophie or the freshman Quinn or the freshman Kelsey and you're just like, 'oh my gosh, who were those people?' It's just been really, really fun to see the transformation and the growth in each of us."

If anyone's career has truly come full circle, though, it's Moos'. Starting as a hard worker and teammate on a family farm, translating those skills to the basketball court and ultimately using her leadership abilities and discipline to be a key asset for the team, Moos excelled at ASU in every way she could.

When her time in Tempe is up, she said she's not entirely certain what the future holds, but it'll probably be something in the family business.

"For once in my life, I'm not going to know what's next," Moos said. "Right now I plan on moving back home and I want to find a career somewhere in agriculture. We'll see, I'm keeping my options open."

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