Christina Mauser, a Huntington Beach basketball coach and mother of three, was remembered Monday for her skills as an athlete, a mom, a wife and a teacher.
Mauser, 38, died Sunday in the crash of a helicopter carrying her, basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and six other people. All aboard were killed.
They were traveling to a game involving Bryant’s girls’ club basketball team and the Fresno Lady Heat at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks when the helicopter crashed in Calabasas after taking off from John Wayne Airport. The tournament, called the Mamba Cup, features boys’ and girls’ travel teams from fourth through eighth grades. Mauser was the Mamba team’s top assistant coach, according to her family.
“She was early on a tremendous athlete,” her father, Marty Patterson, said Monday.
Mauser’s love and talent for basketball made her a standout player while at Edison High School in Huntington Beach, where she graduated in 1999.
Her sense for the game — not just a drive to rack up impressive statistics — translated to her coaching ability, said Patterson, who lives near Apple Valley.
“Her athletic abilities to play defense were tenacious,” he said. “She was smart. She had something that I call field of view, meaning you can see everything at once — you’re not focused just on that or just on that — but she could see the whole court at one time. ... I’m positive that skill helped her become a good coach.”
Patterson, himself a former high school basketball player, said “she had an incredible opportunity. This could have taken her elsewhere over time. She was that good.”
“She’s a special mom. She’s a great wife. Fantastic daughter. Awesome coach,” Patterson said.
Mauser, a graduate of Cal State Fullerton, went to work at Pegasus School, a small private campus in Huntington Beach, before moving to Harbor Day School, another private school, in Corona del Mar. Her husband, Matt Mauser, a fellow grad of Edison High, was teaching at Harbor Day at the time, according to family members.
The Mausers were married in 2006, according to Patterson, and the next year Christina joined Matt at Harbor Day, where Gianna Bryant was attending school before Sunday’s crash.
Christina taught physical education and coached girls’ basketball, and she and her husband led the eighth-grade team to its first championship, according to the school’s magazine.
“She was a loving wife, mother, educator and friend to many,” Harbor Day School said in a statement Monday. “The Harbor Day community is devastated and sends its love and comfort to her husband ... and their children.”
Christina was asked to coach for Mamba Sports Academy and in 2018 left Harbor Day to focus on that.
She also helped manage Matt’s Huntington Beach-based band, the Tijuana Dogs.
“Christina was a driving force behind the Tijuana Dogs and can be credited with much of their success,” the band said on its Facebook page Sunday.
“My kids and I are devastated,” Matt wrote on Facebook. “We lost our beautiful wife and mom.”
Along with being an attentive coach, Christina was a devoted mom to her children, Penny, 11, Tom, 9, and Ivy, 3, according to family members.
“She absolutely loved working with kids,” Huntington Beach resident Julie Norwood said Monday. Norwood is a fellow parent at Sowers Middle School, where the two women’s daughters played basketball together, winning a championship. “She was very busy, but she loved what she did.”
Syndee Norwood, 13, said Christina was “positive, encouraging and very happy” as a coach. She described her coaching as “super competitive” in a way that got her young players motivated.
“She was integral to the team; the girls respected her and called her ‘mom,’” Patterson said. “They had this whole ... camaraderie about the game, and Kobe encouraged that, you know, to help the girls develop over time.”
Huntington Beach Mayor Lyn Semeta said in a statement Monday that “this tragedy hits too close to home for so many in our community.”
“I know that our community will be here for Matt and his three children with whatever support they need as they cope with this horrible tragedy,” Semeta added.