Cal women athletes stealing the show


Photo courtesy of Skyler Horder

Senior Skyler Horder performed so well in high school that she will swim at the University of San Diego in the fall.

There are many outstanding athletes excelling on the field, in the pool and on the track this spring. The Californian is shining a spotlight this issue on one of the top female athletes from each spring sport.

Alyssa Villarde

Junior softball player Alyssa Villarde is  the starting shortstop and captain for the Cal High Grizzlies softball team. 

Villarde started playing softball in third grade and loves the game because of the team atmosphere and being able to compete with her teammates. She’s an extremely hard worker and loves the individual part of the game in which she can improve her craft. 

“Personally, I’m trying to work on my hitting and I’m trying to get my stats up.” Villarde said. “I also want to be a better leader and team player.” 

The varsity softball team is on a roll at 12-5, 5-3 in EBAL (third in league) and is 7-3 in their last 10 games.  

“We’re doing pretty good this year, still jelling as a team, but we’re feeling very good at where we’re going to be,” Villarde said. 

The goal as a team is to win the league first, and then try for NCS.

One of her best assets she brings to the field is her defense.

 “She’s got one of the best backhands I’ve ever seen,” head coach Toni Bari said. “She does a lot of things right and knows all the right techniques. She’s very smart, alert, and learns things very quickly.” 

Villarde is very well respected across the team and is a great leader on and off the field.

“Alyssa is a great teammate because she picks me up when I make mistakes and is always there for me,”  junior third baseman Noelani Ching said. The left side duo of the infield complement each other very well and have very good chemistry. 

Alyssa is talking with colleges and is looking into playing softball at the next level. But for now, Cal has a great one for another year to come.

– Michael Zarich

Evie McMahon

Captain and senior standout Evie McMahon is on a tear for the Grizzlies’ varsity lacrosse team. The midfielder leads the team with 46 goals in 15 games so far (third in EBAL) and has been a scoring machine. She also has a dozen assists.

“Her aggressiveness, competitiveness, and passion for the game makes her an elite scorer,” coach Shannon Geary said. 

McMahon plays midfield and has been playing lacrosse for six years.  She loves the game of lacrosse because of the running, physicality and competitiveness. She also loves being around her teammates.

“One of my favorite things about lacrosse is the team atmosphere,” McMahon said. “I have a lot of great friends on the team and some of my most unforgettable moments are from spending time with my teammates off the field.”

McMahon has not only been a scoring machine for Cal but also a great leader of her team.

“Evie has natural leadership qualities that make it easy for her teammates to follow her,” Shannon said.

Shannon added that McMahon is a complete team player who always puts the team ahead of herself, is well respected, and is focused on winning. 

“She’s a great teammate because of her compassion for everyone,” sophomore Abbey Kunz said. “She’s always looking out for the underclassmen and is always looking for us to improve both as a unit and individually.”

– Michael Zarich

Mara Lampsas

Track season is off and running as the team has welcomed back many familiar faces, including  senior Mara Lampsas who is making a big impact in her fourth and final year on the team.

When she was just 10 years old, Lampsas began practicing hurdling and high jumps. Now, her personal record of high jump stands at a staggering 5-foot-6 inches. On the team, she is a sprinter, high jumper, and hurdler.

“She’s incredibly talented and being able to be on a team with her is amazing,” junior Ava Olguin, one of Lampsas’ teammates, said. “She works so hard and it inspires a lot of us.”

Some of Lampsas’ favorite memories on the team come from their trip to Los Angeles for the Maurice Greene Invitational, which was attended by 12 varsity runners.

“The meet was fun, but the hotel and drive down was far better,” Lampsas said.

When asked who inspires her in the world of sports, Lampsas said Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who is a highly regarded sprinter and an 18-time Olympic gold medalist. 

“She’s on the Jamaican team, and she’s very humble whenever she wins stuff,” Lampsas said.

Like Fraser-Pryce, Lampsas is very humble in her achievements. She’s committed to UC Berkeley for track and field and plans to attend in the fall.

“Mara has had a great track and field career at Cal High,” coach Mark Karbo said. “She’s been among the best in the history of the school in multiple events. I’m glad she will be competing in college and is going to an excellent university.”

Despite having her eye on college, Lampsas has high aspirations for this year.

“[I want] to make it to state for the high jump,” Lampsas said. “And honestly just have fun because it’s like senior year, and sometimes you just forget to do that.”

Added Olguin, “I couldn’t have asked for a better teammate to spend my seasons with.”

– Alison Cavanagh

Skyler Horder

Senior Skyler Horder, one of Cal High’s swim team captains, has worked hard to meet her goals of this season. This will be only her second full season because of COVID-19 cutting short both her sophomore and junior seasons.

Since she was eight years old, Horder has loved being in the pool. It wasn’t until she was 13 that she joined club swimming and loved it so much that she just continued to do it.

Horder’s strength in the pool is definitely sprinting rather than long distances. Because of her ability to swim fast and hard for 50 to 100 meters, Horder is proud to share her academic and athletic commitment to University of San Diego.

“It’s pretty cool, it has been a dream of mine to be D1,” Horder said.

Although her dreams did come true, it was far from easy. She shared how she needed to reach out to a lot of different schools.

“It’s a lot like dating,” Horder said. “The process for D1 school is that you can commit and then they will let you into the school whereas for D3 you have to get into the school first and then you can commit.” 

This influenced her to choose USD, a Division 1 school.

Senior Aine Keenan, another captain of the swim team, has witnessed how hard Horder has worked to accomplish her goals.

“As Skyler has gone through high school, she has gained strength and is able to train and compete [in] incredibly hard swim sets during practice,” Keenan said.

Keenan shared about Horder’s great sportsmanship in the pool, as she is always aware of her teammates’ accomplishments too.

And those accomplishments just keep growin.

For her last season of high school, Horder said she hopes to break her personal records and finish strong.

“For my 50 free I want to go a 24.0 [seconds] and for 100 free probably a 53.0, and for my 100 fly around a 57. I just want to go at my best,” Horder said.

Horder is confident in her speed, so to improve her season she hopes to improve her distance per stroke (DPS), or  how far she can swim per stroke. A higher DPS  is generally better for sprinting.

As of now Horder feels her junior year season was her best, as even despite her  class workloads she was able to juggle swim and school. 

“Junior year is just hard and I was taking a lot of APs, but this year has been pretty easy just because I’m committed and I knew I was in the school in June,” Horder said.

As her high school swimming career is coming to an end and her college swimming career is approaching, Horder hopes to keep with her all the life lessons she’s learned as she moves on to college and beyond.

– Samantha Contreras