Kylie Horstmeyer levels up her game a semester early at the University of San Diego

Hannah Sellers

Spring semester of senior year is typically a time to celebrate accomplishments and experience one last hurrah with lifelong friends; however, for the class of 2021, little tradition remains. On Jan. 2, senior Kylie Horstmeyer seized the opportunity to take an alternative path. Graduating a semester early to head down to Southern California as a Division I recruited athlete at the University of San Diego (USD), Horstmeyer begins a new chapter of her basketball career. 

Walking out in cap and gown looked a little different for senior Kylie Horstmeyer who graduated early on Jan. 14.

After three years of leading the Redwood girls’ basketball team to victory, Horstmeyer felt dismal about the prospects of a senior season given California’s strict sports guidelines. When USD offered her a spot on their basketball team, even if it meant potentially missing a final few games as well as the closing months of high school with friends, Horstmeyer knew it was not a chance to pass up. 

“I think that the opportunity that was presented in front of me outweighed everything when I measure out the pros and cons,” Horstmeyer said. “I jumped on it as soon as possible.” 

The legacy of Horstmeyer’s talent and enthusiasm will remain in the Phil Roak gymnasium, but her teammates feel the loss of both a strong player as well as a supportive team member. Senior Brooke Strodder will especially miss Horstmeyer after 9 years of playing alongside her. 

“She is definitely a natural leader,” Strodder said. “She always pushes everyone and helps us rise to challenges.”

In addition to Horstmeyer’s unwavering stream of positivity and bubbly personality, Strodder notes that Horstmeyer’s relentless drive to enhance her play never failed to impress the rest of her team.

“She has a constant craving to get better every single day,” Strodder said. “It is crazy to watch her grow because she is already the best at everything; how is she going to get even better? Then it happens, and it’s so fun to watch.”

Champions of the Marin County Athletic League, teammates Brooke Strodder and Kylie Horstmeyer display their new pennant after their winning game.

Strodder does not stand alone in her sentiment. Redwood basketball coach Diane Peterson has seen Horstmeyer grow remarkably as a player throughout many years of mentoring. From a young age, Peterson saw Horstmeyer as a fierce competitor who enjoyed pushing herself to the limits with the steadfast work ethic she rarely encounters in youth athletes. Years later, Horstmeyer continued to impress Peterson with such hunger to improve at every practice.  

“Kylie made sure to put in extra work in the off-hours when nobody else was watching, and was determined to elevate her game in every way possible,” Peterson said. 

Beyond her versatility on the court, Peterson saw Horstmeyer as a vital contributor to the Redwood team’s spirit. She remarked that often extremely gifted athletes commonly fail to act with their team in mind. That was never an issue with Horstmeyer.

“Kylie was an extremely humble and incredible team player. If anything, she wanted others around her to elevate as well,” Peterson said. “She was extremely unselfish which is a tremendous quality.”

Horstmeyer has trained tirelessly for years to reach the position she is in today. With a collegiate basketball coach as a mom and other relatives heavily involved in the sport, Horstmeyer aspired to play beyond high school from a young age. When the opportunity finally arose, she found the USD program to be a strong fit in regards to the team community and excellent coaching staff. Likewise, Peterson sees USD’s basketball program as a perfect match for the player and teammate Horstmeyer is. 

“She enjoys the pain that comes along with getting better and being pushed out of your comfort zone. At USD she’s going to be surrounded by athletes who are going to push her, a coach that’s going to push her; she thrives in that kind of environment,” Peterson said.

Despite not attending a classic graduation full of air horns, instagram photos and crying parents, Horstmeyer could not be more excited to close her high school experience in pursuit of her collegiate basketball dreams. 

“I’m so grateful to be where I am. I made the decision to prioritize basketball, and would not change it for anything,” Horstmeyer said. “I would do it all again 100 percent. I would even do it harder.”