This article was first posted in the 2017 issue of Hamptonia.
Cierra was searching for balance before she arrived at New Hampton School. A high caliber hockey goalie, with strong academic talent, Cierra wanted it all. Living in southern California, she attended an all-girls private school that allowed her the flexibility to play hockey, but she traveled more than 30 days a year to play in primarily male leagues. This would be her first experience playing in an all-women’s hockey league.
At New Hampton School, Cierra found balance, and she found success. This year she will attend Colby College in Waterville, Maine and, during her senior year at New Hampton School, she defended her Lady Huskies in goal to help win the team’s first ever NEPSAC title, not to mention, she completed the rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma.
How did you end up at New Hampton School?
I knew people that came here before me. I played hockey with Cayla Barnes ’17 since we were about six years old. I attended a summer camp and Cayla and Coach Churchill happened to be there. He invited me to come check out the school. And I came up, and I really liked it.
How was your transition to New Hampton School?
It was different because prior to coming here, I had gone to school with just girls. But I was still playing boys’ hockey. Initially, I thought, “Oh, this is like a long summer camp.” Then I quickly realized, “Oh, there’s school.” It wasn’t a huge transition because I’d been spending so much time away from home traveling for hockey. When I came here, I thought, I can get the best of both worlds.
What surprised you the most?
Probably the number of international students. I never knew that so many kids from different countries came here. Some of my closest friends are from Germany. I would have never guessed in a million years that I’d have friends all over the world.
How do you think the IB program has helped prepare you for college?
I think it’s prepared me because unlike AP courses where you just study for the test, in IB courses, you go in-depth over two years, not just studying for the exam. In science, we spent more time doing in-depth labs. In other subjects we learned important connections. For example, in history during our first year, we talked a lot about US history, but in US history we also talked about Europe. During our second year, we talked about global wars, and we could make connections because we had been in class with most of the same people for two years. We share the same background knowledge.
What was it like to win the NEPSAC Championship?
I knew our team was getting stronger knowing our returners and newcomers. We had made the playoffs every year for several years, but I don’t think we were quite ready yet. I remember Coach Churchill saying when I arrived, “Maybe not this year, but next year for sure we’re going to make a run for the championship.” So, it’s inspiring that we did it.
Have you become a better player since arriving at New Hampton?
Yes. When I first arrived, we played club hockey in the fall. That was my first introduction to an all-girls league. It was also my transition from playing with boys to girls. Even though I’m a goalie, it’s not just about stopping the puck. Boys shoot differently than girls, so I had to learn a lot.
You are attending Colby College next year?
Yes. I was recruited to play hockey. I’d never really heard of Colby College or NESCAC schools before I came here. They are not well known on the west coast. They have very highly ranked academics, which is what I wanted, while also having the opportunity to play hockey. And not only be on the team but play for all four years, which was very important.
When you leave New Hampton, what are you going to take with you to help you with your transition and next steps?
For a lot of people, going to college is their first time living away from home. I’ve already lived across the country for two years, so I think that’s going to help a lot. We also have a structure here, and in college, we won’t have that. It is good that we learn the structure here so that in college, I know I should study. I can’t just hang out with my friends. I’ve gained a lot of independence being away from home.