In her time representing the Kane Lady Wolves, Sierra Hillman proved to be consistent, resilient, and versatile. The now Robert Morris Colonial was a three sport athlete from 2016 to 2020. Hillman was a key contributor in basketball, volleyball, and track and field. However, it was not always these three sports that she loved most.
(Photo by Tessa Boschert Photography)
Until the seventh grade, the current Robert Morris student athlete loved the game of softball. Her middle-school gym teacher Rae El Wittman was the first person to encourage the McKean County product to give track and field a chance. It did not take long for her to love the sport and find her footing in the throwing events.
“I can remember my dad saying that would be okay to give track and field a chance. If I did not like it, I could return to softball. That never happened because I really fell in love with the sport.”
While track and field is her favorite and likely best sport, this did not deter her from remaining in basketball and volleyball. She served as a key member of the Lady Wolves District 9 title in volleyball during her sophomore year as well as a vital part of the first D9 title in girls basketball in program history during her junior season.
Some of Hillman’s fondest memories in sports took place during these two teams’ runs to the PIAA state playoffs, and those memories will last a lifetime.
“I can remember being on the bus before our D9 title game in volleyball and Coach (Judy) Kessler told us that we were in for a tough game. We ended up winning in just three sets.”
Coming into her junior season of basketball, the Lady Wolves met with former Lady Wolves head coach Dave Kiehl to go over what their team had lost from the previous season. What the team lost was around half of their scoring and rebounding. However, this team believed they had what it took to not just win an Allegheny Mountain League (AML) title, but also to win a District 9 title.
The Lady Wolves defeated Clarion to advance to the D9 finals in class AA. In the finals, the Lady Wolves took care of AC Valley in overtime to help give Kiehl the coveted title he deserved. During this run, however, Kiehl suffered from some health complications and did not have the chance to coach in the D9 title game.
Despite this, the team rallied and won the game for their coach. When reflecting on all of the emotions she experienced during this historic run, the Kane graduate said “Our team was so strong that season. We faced a lot of hardship, but the community really rallied behind us. I remember getting off the bus, and there were Kane people wearing red in support of us and also Coach Kiehl. It was a surreal feeling to feel how much our town was behind us.”
While her basketball and volleyball careers were filled with lifelong memories with her friends, she also accomplished a great deal as a thrower. Hillman was ranked first in the district in javelin coming into her senior season as well as amongst the top throwers for discus. Unfortunately, she was not able to wrap up her career how she planned because of COVID-19. Her senior season ended before it really started, but Hillman kept a positive attitude during a difficult time.
Despite not throwing in her senior season, Robert Morris knew what they were getting with Hillman; a well rounded athlete with a great attitude. She committed to Robert Morris this past spring, and is planning on majoring in cyber security or criminal justice. She hopes to have a career in government someday.
The former three sport athlete had a lot of help along the way from various people, but she lists the number one supporter and mentor to her as her father, Jim Hillman. He is a longtime football coach in the Wolves program in addition to recently joining the Kane Wolves track and field program as a coach.
“He shaped me most in my athletic career,” the McKean County native mentioned. “He was always so supportive and knew how to try to help me succeed.”
An additional long time mentor is her throwing coach from Kane Rae El Wittman, who has guided many of her high school athletes to the college level.
“Coach Wittman has been a family friend for a long time. She has taught me how to be a better athlete, thrower, leader, and person. She treats all of the throwers and team members like family.”
The current college freshman left readers with a glimpse of what it means to her to be a member of Kane Area High School Athletics.
“Playing with the same girls all my life, it has turned us into a family. It does not matter who gets the accolades, but being together as a part of a special team means the most. Being an athlete and an athlete for Kane shaped me into the person I am today.”