It was not long ago that junior Shireyll Moore’s and junior Lauren Groom’s parents were running up and down the court for Fairfield basketball.
Shireyll Moore and Patrice Wallace-Moore
When Moore’s mother, Patrice Wallace-Moore, came to Fairfield, it was the school’s first season playing D-I women’s basketball. There was no three-point shot or AAU ball. To improve their skills, the women played against men in the park, where Wallace met her future husband, Lowes Moore.
“The kids today get much more than we ever got: sneakers, sweats, bags,” said Wallace-Moore. “Being D-I means something. We were na’ve. We just played hard back then.”
Basketball has always been in Moore’s family. Her mother played for the Stags from 1981-85 and is still currently in the top 10 assists in a season at Fairfield. Her father starred for West Virginia and played in parts of three seasons in the NBA.
However, Shireyll said she did not always want to follow in her mother’s footsteps.
“We have always been opposites. She is a daddy’s girl and she never wanted to hang with mom,” said Wallace-Moore. “Then one day it happened. She wanted to play basketball and she wanted to wear my number.”
Moore’s parents never forced her to play basketball but growing up in a home with a professional and a collegiate player seemed to rub off on her.
“When I was born, my father was still in the CBA (Continental Basketball Association), so there was always basketball in the house somewhere,” said Moore. “But they always left it up to me to make the decision whether or not I wanted to play.”
Wallace-Moore became the assistant coach for her daughter’s high school team her freshman year and moved up to head coach the following season.
“She was tough,” said Moore. “It wasn’t just her; it was my father too. You don’t like it at first, but then once you learn it, you grow and you can take that to other situations.”
Despite the tough love, Moore learned her mother’s defensive mentality.
“She always emphasized defense,” said Moore. “You want to play hard on offense, but defense gets everything going, and that was always number one.”
“She was the best all-around player I coached,” said Wallace-Moore. “She was the only person who played every position.”
“I always valued defense first and that is what she picked up and valued,” said Wallace-Moore. “People don’t appreciate defense anymore. It is a lost art. Shireyll loves it, and I enjoy seeing her play it.”
“Shireyll is a very good defender,” said Fairfield Head Coach Joe Frager. “The thing I enjoy the most about Shireyll is the fact that she plays really hard. You can tell she is the daughter of a coach based on how hard she plays.”
Wallace-Moore said she sees some of herself in her daughter as they both value defense and do the little unheralded acts that do not show up in a box score but help a team win.
“In my career I not only scored (882 points), but dished the ball and played defense like Shireyll,” said Wallace-Moore. “She was always unselfish. She is a team player and will sacrifice for the team.”
However, both also realize that comparisons between themselves as players are difficult to make.
“We are two different people and two different players,” said Moore. “We have almost the same mentality, very defensive minded, but … we play two different games. I’m a little bit more athletic and taller than she is.”
Wallace-Moore said she is proud of her daughter, not only for her play on the court, but also off it.
“I am her mother first,” she said. “When her high school career was over, she gave me a plaque that called me her phenomenal woman. I was in tears because she always used to say, ‘I want my daddy.’ She outdid me in everything. I graduated No. 20 and was president of the National Honor Society. She graduated No. seven and was president of the whole school.”
Wallace-Moore is currently the CEO of Arms Acres, Inc., a drug and alcohol treatment facility for Inpatient and Outpatient treatment and is an ordained minister in her church while continuing to coach.
Moore averages 1.5 points per game but has 27 assists to 16 turnovers as well as 14 steals. Her playing time has increased in recent games with her ability to play both small and power forwards.
Lauren and George Groom
Groom’s father, George, played at Fairfield from 1971-73. He scored 1,486 points in his career and still holds the records for highest career scoring average with 19.8 points per game and points in a game with 41.
However, there was no women’s basketball team at the time. His daughter now starts for the Stags.
Lauren is a scorer like her father, but she has worked to improve other aspects of her game.
“We’re both shooters,” said Lauren. “But I think he was a lot more of a selfish player than I am.”
“Lauren’s real strength for us is her ability to shoot the basketball,” said Frager. “We look to her to make that midrange shot as well as that three-point shot. One area that Lauren has really improved this year is her ability to defend. She’s not extremely gifted laterally with her foot speed, but she’s made up for that by becoming a smarter defender. Like Shireyll, she’s also a good student of the game.”
Lauren began her career early, but did not focus exclusively on basketball. She said her parents got her involved in many activities, and she fell in love with basketball without it being forced upon her.
“Lauren began to play basketball (if that’s what you call it) at the age of five,” said George. “She actually played every sport, but as time went on she fell in love with basketball. She played high school basketball starting in the seventh grade and went on to become one of the leading scorers on Long Island (over 2,000 points for her career).”
Some of that success can be attributed to her father’s experience and advice.
“He was my coach a lot,” said Lauren. “He was very hard on me as a kid, but in a good way. At the time I didn’t really understand why he was so tough on me, but he instilled a lot of hard work and commitment and doing things the right way. He’s my biggest critic but my biggest fan.”
After her high school career, Lauren said she wanted to continue playing at a D-I school.
“He loves it, but he never really pushed me to go here,” said Lauren. “He just wanted me to find the place that was the best fit for me where I could play basketball with good academics. I just chose this school, and it just so happened to be where he used to go.”
Despite not influencing Lauren to choose Fairfield, George said he was pleased with her decision.He wanted her to choose a school where she would be happy, even without basketball, and liked Fairfield’s emphasis on academics.
Lauren said she has not felt pressure playing under the shadow of her father at Fairfield.
“Sometimes it’s always a lot of hype about how great of a player he was,” said Lauren. “I’m proud of him and it’s a wonderful thing, but he never really puts pressure on me. I’m here in my years to play my game and to do the best that I can.”
George currently works for Hill-Rom, one of the largest manufactures of hospital equipment.
Lauren starts for the Stags and averages 6.1 points per game while pulling down 3.1 rebounds per game as well.
Both Groom and Moore have followed their parents to athletic and academic success at Fairfield. Both parents attribute their time on the basketball court as helping prepare them for life after college, and their daughters are looking to follow in their footsteps in that aspect as well.
“Both are excellent academically,” said Frager. “Goal-oriented people tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves. If we are going to continue to have success, we need solid contributions from both of them. They are both enjoyable to coach.”