More than 16,000 people are expected to go shoulder to shoulder in the stands inside Erwin Arena on the University of Texas campus in Austin this weekend for the NCAA Final Four women's basketball tournament. A few of those 16,000 will not be Cal State Long Beach guard Margaret Mohr's close friends or relatives.
"We're leaving Thursday," said Mohr's father, Lawrence, of Thousand Oaks. "Me and my wife, Dolores, and Lawrence Jr. and his wife, and my daughter Patty and her husband, and my daughter Ruth hopes to make it along with her husband, and a lot of friends and neighbors. Just a whole bunch of us are heading to Texas."
With all the daughter-this and daughter-that sprinkling Lawrence Mohr's list, you'd think he and Dolores must have, oh, about seven children. Wrong. There are eight. Five daughters and three sons. And none more talented than Margaret, the 22-year-old senior at Long Beach who has helped the 49ers into the Final Four.
Long Beach (33-2) faces Tennessee (26-6) in one semifinal Friday. Texas and Louisiana Tech play in the other with the winners playing for the national title Sunday.
The 5-8 Mohr is the only Long Beach player to have started all 35 games this season. She has averaged 6.4 points and 2.7 rebounds per game and is second on the team with 142 assists, an average of 4.1 a game. She was named to the all-tournament team in the NCAA West Regional at Pauley Pavilion, a thrill that will only be exceeded, she said, by a weekend in Austin.
"This has been worth waiting for," said Mohr, a standout athlete at La Reina High in Thousand Oaks. "It seems the same as high school. We won the CIF title my senior year, and now we can win the national championship in my senior year. It's kind of like God saves the best for last in my case. I appreciate that. I know this is the end for me. We plan to go down there and win two games, and that's it. It's all over. I can't wait to see the crowds. They say it holds 16,000. Great.
"I love crowds."
You know she's used to them. Living with two parents, four sisters and three brothers, the gathering in the Mohr bathroom every morning probably looked like a Super Bowl crowd.
For Mohr's parents, the weekend will be a culmination of more than three decades of watching all eight of their athletic children pound through the house wearing baseball spikes, football cleats, sneakers, and soccer shoes. If they're not happy to see it end, you can bet the linoleum in the hallway is.
"We're just thrilled to death," said Lawrence Mohr. "Sports has always been a source of real pleasure with us and the kids, but this is something special. I always thought some of our kids would do real well in sports. They all had their moments.
"But Margaret came along and all of a sudden I realized that she was the super athlete. She was just gifted at whatever she did. Basketball and softball and even cross-country. She ran cross-country just for conditioning before basketball season and ended up winning most of her meets and placing second or third in the state meet her senior year. She got a full ride at Long Beach State on basketball, but she might have gotten full rides in softball or volleyball, too, if she concentrated on those sports."
Lawrence and Dolores Mohr will celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary this summer. They've needed both hands to count their blessings, and Dolores, who watches all of her daughter's basketball games while fingering her rosary beads, will give her thanks again this weekend.
Lawrence said he gives his thanks every day.
"Every time Dolores told me she was pregnant I threatened to commit suicide," he said. "I'm sure glad I stayed around."