Caren Horstmeyer, the 2004 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, enters her fifth season as head coach of the California women's basketball team. Under Horstmeyer's direction, it is clear that the Golden Bears are on track to return to the success they experienced in the early 1990s.
Horstmeyer led Cal to an 8-2 start in 2003-04 - its best opening to a season in 11 years - before the team suffered the tragic loss of teammate Alisa Lewis to bacterial meningitis. During that stretch, the Bears won their Oakland Tribune Classic title for the first time since 1998, finished the non-conference slate with a 6-0 home record and defeated No. 22 Oregon in the Pac-10 opener. Cal received votes in the USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Coaches' Poll for five straight weeks, from Dec. 1 through Dec. 29, and received a vote in the AP poll on Dec. 29.
After the tragedy, Horstmeyer not only had the job of X's and O's, but also that of leading a team back from the sadness and emotional void left by Lewis' death. Horstmeyer did just that, as her team found the strength and courage to continue Pac-10 competition. Cal concluded the regular season by winning two of its last three games and went 1-1 in the Pac-10 Tournament. The Bears downed Oregon, 82-57, in the opening round of the conference tournament.
Horstmeyer's inaugural 2000-01 Cal team won eight Pac-10 games, which was the Bears' most conference wins since 1992-93. Following a five-game Pac-10 winning streak in the middle of that season, Horstmeyer had Cal on the brink of its first postseason berth since 1993.
After losing seven seniors to graduation, Horstmeyer developed a young Bears' squad in 2001-02, which made significant strides during the 2002-03 season. The Bears posted three more total and Pac-10 wins than they did the previous year and earned the program's first Pac-10 Tournament victory over Arizona State.
In only four seasons at Cal, Horstmeyer's teams have collected six All-Pac-10 honors and 17 Pac-10 All-Academic citations, highlighted by Courtney Johnson's (2001) and Nihan Anaz's (2004) selections to the first team All-Pac-10 squads. Last season, the Bears had a program-high six players receive academic conference honors.
Horstmeyer, 42, was hired at Cal on April 17, 2000, after spending 12 seasons as head coach at Santa Clara, where she compiled a 221-124 record and left as the winningest women's basketball coach in West Coast Conference history with 112 conference victories. She guided the Broncos to six postseason appearances, including four NCAA Tournament selections and the 1991 WNIT championship, along with six WCC regular season titles and two WCC Tournament crowns. In the 1990s, Horstmeyer led SCU to four consecutive WCC regular season crowns (1991-94), and her teams only once finished lower than third in league play.
When Santa Clara defeated USF, 80-57, on February 3, 1994, it marked Horstmeyer's 100th-career win in her 164th career game, making her the fastest coach in WCC history to reach the century mark. She earned her 200th-career victory, Feb. 25, 1999, with a 69-42 decision over Gonzaga in the WCC Tournament.
Other laurels SCU attained during Horstmeyer's tenure include its first national ranking in 1998-99, and the 1997-98 Broncos became the first Santa Clara team to lead the nation in field goal percentage defense, limiting opponents to 35.0 percent shooting.
While at SCU, Horstmeyer coached 36 All-West Coast Conference picks, four WCC Players of the Year, one Kodak All-American, one WCC Defender of the Year, one WCC Newcomer of the Year and one WCC Freshman of the Year. She also earned NCAA District VIII Coach of the Year in 1999 and WCC Coach of the Year in 1991 and '93.
Horstmeyer took over a Golden Bear program that had experienced seven consecutive losing seasons, but she has shown the ability to turn around a program. After compiling a 16-38 record in her first two campaigns at Santa Clara, she led the Broncos to 10 consecutive winning seasons. Her 1990-91 team posted a 19-game improvement (9-17 to 28-3), one of the biggest single-season turnarounds in NCAA history. The Broncos won 20 or more games six times under Horstmeyer.
In addition to excelling on the hardwood, Horstmeyer's teams tend to shine in the classroom. Cal has had a team GPA of at least 3.0 for the last two and a half years. Santa Clara's 1999-00 squad was recognized by the WBCA as having the 14th-best team GPA (3.296) in Division I play. Also in 2000, the Chronicle of Higher Education recognized SCU as being one of 12 schools and the only West Coast one with a 100 percent graduation rate.
Prior to assuming the reins as Santa Clara's head coach, Horstmeyer was an assistant coach at the University of San Francisco for the 1987-88 season and an assistant at Santa Clara in 1986-87.
Horstmeyer has been tapped several times to assist U.S. national team activities. She served as head coach of the East team at the U.S. Olympic Festival in 1993. She also has been active on selection committees for the U.S. national team, the Converse Coach of the Year award and the Kodak All-America team.
A native of Greenbrae, Calif., Horstmeyer made a name for herself at Santa Clara long before she accepted the head coaching job in 1988 at the age of 25. A four-year letterwinner from 1980-84, she enjoyed one of the finest careers in Bronco history. At the time of her graduation, she held a wide assortment of SCU basketball records, including most points in a game (32), season (452) and career (1496); most assists in a career (220); most steals in a season (58) and career (166); and most games played (107). As a senior in 1984, Horstmeyer also lettered in softball and was chosen that year as SCU's Best Female Athlete.
A three-time All-Northern Pacific Athletic Conference pick and three-time team MVP, Horstmeyer graduated from SCU with a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1984 and was inducted into the school's sports hall of fame in 1998. She also achieved a master's of arts in educational administration from Santa Clara in 1996.
Following graduation, Horstmeyer joined the Panathanaikos Women's Professional team in Athens, Greece, where she was a two-time league scoring champion and team MVP. While in Greece, she coached a girls' team and was a scout for a men's professional squad.
Horstmeyer was a standout athlete at Redwood High School. She was named to 10 All-Marin County Athletic League teams in three sports (four each in basketball and soccer and two in softball) and earned 14 varsity letters (four each in basketball, soccer and tennis and two in softball). In 1980, she was named Redwood's Best Female Athlete. In November of 2000, she was inducted into the Marin County Athletic Hall of Fame.
With all of the aforementioned accomplishments, it is clear that Horstmeyer has the experience and drive to elevate Cal to national prominence.
Caren and her husband, Bill, reside in Greenbrae with their four-year-old son, Arend, and two-year-old daughter, Kylie.
Years School Record Conf. Finish Results 1988-89 Santa Clara 7-21 8th 1989-90 Santa Clara 9-17 5th 1990-91 Santa Clara 28-3 1st WNIT Champion 1991-92 Santa Clara 21-10 T1st NCAA Second Round 1992-93 Santa Clara 19-9 1st 1993-94 Santa Clara 21-7 1st NCAA First Round 1994-95 Santa Clara 17-11 3rd 1995-96 Santa Clara 14-13 3rd 1996-97 Santa Clara 19-9 T3rd 1997-98 Santa Clara 23-8 1st NCAA First Round 1998-99 Santa Clara 22-7 T1st NCAA Second Round 1999-00 Santa Clara 21-9 3rd WNIT First Round 2000-01 California 12-16 T6th 2001-02 California 7-21 9th 2002-03 California 10-19 9th 2003-04 California 12-17 9th TOTAL 16 years 262-197