Long Beach Poly junior middle blocker Rylie McGinest did not need long to make the biggest decision of her athletic career so far. When she received a formal offer from USC a few days ago, McGinest committed immediately.
“Oh I did commit on the spot, yes,” she said. “They said, ‘You can wait and think about it’ and I said, ‘No, I’m in. Let’s do it.’”
McGinest, who was All-Moore League as a freshman and sophomore, is also a standout player at the Long Beach Mizuno volleyball club. She said the choice to pick USC was an easy one for her for a number of reasons.
“I like the campus, I like the academics, I’ve gone to a lot of games and I really like the Galen Center and the coaches,” she said. “They really made me feel like they cared about me more than just as a volleyball player during the recruiting process. I was comfortable with them.”
There are plenty of people who won’t believe that McGinest picked USC solely on its own merits–her father is Poly and USC football legend Willie McGinest, who had an All-American and Hall of Fame career with the Trojans before embarking on a successful NFL career that included three Super Bowl titles.
“I didn’t go to Poly for a family legacy, I just didn’t know any other school–that was always where I was going,” said Rylie. “USC, I’m picking for me. I grew up around the school, but it also has everything I was looking for–I would have committed right away even if my dad had played somewhere else.”
That doesn’t mean that she’s not living with an extremely proud father after her commitment.
“I’m elated,” said Willie. “I was fortunate enough to go to USC and have a great experience. As a father and an alum and a fan you want your kids to experience the same thing. But I never wanted to force anything on them, I wanted them to think about what’s in front of them and make the decision that’s best for them.”
There’s no doubt that Rylie is joining a USC program on the rise. The Trojans already secured two major class of 2022 commitments with Rylie’s longtime Mizuno and Poly teammate, Adonia Faumuina. With McGinest, Faumuina, and others, the Trojans are shaping up to have one of the best recruiting classes in the nation.
Rylie said she’s excited to join a program that’s elevating and to help put USC on the national map the same way she and Faumuina have helped to raise Poly’s profile. She also said she knows she’ll see comments that she’s a legacy offer.
“Oh yeah, some people are going to say I got the offer because of my dad,” she said. “I don’t really care. I’m the one on the court playing, and I’m the one who earned this.”
“I’ve told all my daughters, you carry a name that has meaning and history, whether you like it or not,” said Willie. “Just because of your last name, people will judge you and compare you because of me. That’s okay, that’s not a bad thing. What’s important is you carve your own road. Don’t worry about me or what I did–do what’s best for you, go create your own legacy.”
Rylie McGinest has certainly done that, and at a young age. She was the first person in her family to pick up volleyball, and was so awkward on the court when she began playing at 11 years old that some of the coaches called her “Bambi.” Now, just five years later, she’s a two-time All-Moore League player and champion who’s earned a Pac-12 scholarship to her dream college.
The road she’s traveling might not run through new zip codes–but it’s still a road she’s paving for herself.