As a freshman at Redwood in 1976, Caren Horstmeyer envisioned herself playing tennis at the collegiate level, but that changed when she stepped foot on the Redwood basketball court. Her picture now hangs in the Redwood Alumni Hall of Fame and the family legacy continues as her freshman daughter Kylie shines as the as a starting shooting guard on the varsity basketball team.
If asked what she wanted to be when she began high school, Caren would never have responded with anything related to basketball. According to Caren, it was her best friend Nancy Wilson who convinced her to play basketball her freshman year. It was a decision that shaped the rest of her life.
“I knew right away I liked [basketball] and maybe three or four weeks in I knew I loved it. I just didn’t have skill. But I had desire, passion and I was very aggressive, like a bull in a china cabinet,” Caren said.
On the contrary, Kylie practically grew up with a basketball in her hands. Ever since she learned how to shoot and dribble the ball, Kylie has been hooked on the sport.
“I’ve been playing basketball since I can remember, my first team was in second grade but I have just been playing my whole life,” Kylie said.
Kylie has been surrounded by sports her whole life. Her mother was and still is extremely involved in athletics and her father also played on the Redwood football team. In addition, Caren’s sister who graduated in 1987, Christine Choppelas, is also in the Redwood Alumni Hall of Fame and was a three sport athlete throughout high school. Kylie’s brother, Arend, also rows crew for Marin Rowing Association and is going to continue rowing for University of Delaware.
“You could tell at a really young age that she was a very natural athlete. She loves all sports and does all sports which is exciting for me of course, having a sports background,” Caren said.
Unlike her daughter, Caren did not know what to expect when she began playing high school basketball due to her late start to the sport. There is also a substantial difference between basketball and tennis in terms of structure and speed of the game. Despite this, the skills Caren had learned through tennis made the transition smooth.
“Tennis has great footwork and the footwork from tennis carried over to basketball. I always say that’s how you become a great basketball player. It starts with your feet and your footwork,” Caren said. “It was interesting how different [tennis and basketball] are but in turn how they ended up complimenting each other.”
She continued her basketball career playing at Santa Clara University for four years, where she competed at the Division I level. After going international to play professional with a Greek team, she later had the opportunity to coach the women’s basketball team at Santa Clara for 12 years, beginning in 1988. She finished her coaching career at the University of California Berkeley, which she led for five years from 2000 to 20005. During her time, she was recognized as West Coast Coach of the Year twice at Santa Clara and Pac 10 Coach of the Year at UC Berkeley in 2004, according to the Redwood Alumni Hall Of Fame.
According to Choppelas, Caren has always possessed the competitiveness and work ethic that enabled her to be so successful at a high level.
“She definitely has self-motivation and drive and she is probably one of the most competitive people I know. Also amazing discipline and dedication to the sport,” Choppelas said.
At a young age, the Horstmeyer family went on a trip to Hawaii when Arend was five and Kylie was three. It was here where Caren truly realized Kylie’s love for the sport of basketball.
“I said to my friend, ‘Hey can you take care of Arend? I have to go back up to the pool area so that Kylie can dribble the beach ball!’ She was dribbling it in the hotel room and we got in trouble because she wouldn’t stop dribbling it,” Caren said.
During Kylie’s childhood, Caren encouraged her to try whichever sport interested her. After trying out a few different sports, such as soccer and waterpolo, Kylie decided that basketball was her passion. Although she still plays water polo for Redwood, she said she prioritizes basketball.
“[My mom] would always give me tips and would help me out and she never really pushed me that hard to play basketball. She wanted me to play other sports,” Kylie said.
Kylie decided to continue with basketball and will continue to push her abilities as a player. She hopes to continue to compete at the highest level and with the overarching goal to continue playing at the Division I level.
“It is in my daily life. Every single day you are going to have practice and then go home and do your homework. It’s just normal,” Kylie said.
Caren and her sister Choppelas can be always be found in the stands as they watch Kylie excel on the court. Being Redwood alumni and also having played for the basketball team makes spectating games even more special for them.
“It has been so much fun after 30 years walking into the Redwood gym to see them play again. More specifically, my niece plays for Redwood amongst the fans and the championship flags,” Choppelas said.
Their support for Redwood only continues as they have both become heavily involved in the Hoop’s Club program which funds the Redwood Basketball program. Caren also runs a basketball camp for young girls, which she began one year after she left UC Berkeley.
“I thought about, ‘How can I give back to the community and at the same time use the skills that I have acquired over the 17 years as a head coach, and be able to help girls basketball?’” Caren said.
The camp began with only 15 girls and has expanded to about 120. Caren aims to expand the camp even more.
Every time she steps back into the Redwood gym to either watch Kylie put points onto the scoreboard in a game or coach young girls in basketball, Caren’s love for the sport remains. She is extremely excited for her daughter Kylie and looks forward to seeing what the future holds for her.