Perseverance and positivity are the qualities that define volleyball player Sierra Davis. Classmates at Hurricane High School would describe her as an outgoing, fun-loving girl with an abundance of team spirit.
“I really just love the relationships that I have with my coaches and my team,” she says. “It’s like nothing you can really find anywhere else. It’s fun to be so close to the people you’re on a sports team with.”
Sierra was born in Salt Lake but has spent the last 10 years in the Hurricane Valley. Her mother, Sherae, is a counselor at Hurricane High, and her grandmother also lives nearby. Sierra says that “the three generations of our small family are very close.”
She was introduced to volleyball as a fourth-grader by Daniel McKeehan, a teacher and the Tigers’ longtime coach. He suggested that she enroll in the upcoming club season. Naturally athletic, it was through McKeehan’s guidance that she discovered her passion for the sport. “When Sierra was little, she tried everything: ice skating, swimming, soccer, gymnastics,” Sherae Davis says. “Once she got on the court and started to feel the love for volleyball, there was just no going back.”
McKeehan also gave Sierra a piece of advice she’ll never forget. “He always said that communication is the key to life. In volleyball, you have to talk all the time or else it doesn’t work very well. You’re just more successful as a team if everyone is letting each other know what’s going on,” she says. “It’s the same thing with your teachers, family, and friends.”
Sierra continued playing club until her freshman year, then took up track and field to stay in shape during the off-season. She competes in the javelin throw. She also plays viola in the school orchestra and loves to dance.
On a typical school day, Sierra arrives at Hurricane High around 7:45 a.m. After a full schedule of classes, she goes to either track or volleyball practice, depending on the season. She attends open gym from 6-8 p.m., followed by a private lesson with McKeehan, and then heads home to eat dinner and tackle a pile of awaiting homework.
The 17-year-old admits that between academics, chores, sports, and hanging out with friends, managing her time is a challenge. She’s grateful for her teachers who work with her practice and game schedule. But in the end, it’s her own drive that allows her to juggle it all while maintaining a 3.6 GPA. “Having a sport has helped me be more dedicated to things,” she says.
Sierra will most likely attend Southern Utah University where she plans to study nursing. She says she’d love to play college volleyball if the opportunity presents itself.
“I’ve been really impressed by how dedicated she is,” Sherae Davis says. “She’s always willing to put the time in, and I think that comes from the sheer love of volleyball. She just lives and breathes volleyball.”
Sherae Davis says that she tries to let the coaches do the coaching while she cheers from the sidelines and supports her daughter in any way she can. Before Sierra had a driver’s license, she played chauffeur. She’s the chef as well. “I do a lot of grocery shopping!” she laughs.
Since McKeehan stepped down, the Lady Tigers have gone through three different coaches in two seasons. “We’ve still managed to stay super close and committed to the team,” Sierra says. “My sophomore year, we only had four seniors, and everybody was looking over at us like, ‘Oh, they’re not going to get very far,’ and we placed second in [our] region. We worked so hard to prove everyone wrong, and just having that accomplishment was really meaningful to me.”
However, the upheaval did take its toll on Hurricane’s 2015 season, which Content Marshall, who was recently promoted to head coach after assisting with the JV squad for two years, describes as a “rebuilding year.” Their 3-15 record wasn’t enough to make it to State.
Sierra is one of five seniors whom Hurricane will be counting on to bolster their comeback effort this fall. She has the height and reach at 5’10”, plus skills gained through almost seven years of competitive experience. “She’s versatile,” says Marshall. “She’s hit right side, she’s hit outside, and she’s a very good setter, so the fact that I can use her in a lot of different positions is good for the team.”
To prepare for the upcoming season, the team is attending two summer camps, one at Utah Valley University and the other locally. Sierra has also signed up for a week-long program in Salt Lake where she can hone her setting skills. “My goal, personally, for this season is to stay positive and uplift my team and be a mentor towards the younger underclassmen,” she says. “As a team, we’ve talked about the same things, working on pushing ourselves to be our best.”
“She’s got a lot of initiative that I’m really impressed with,” says Marshall. “She has come to me several times and said, ‘I want to be a leader, I want to be a captain, I want to lead our team forward.’”
“She’s played for a long time, and she knows when we need to fix or adjust [something]. She’s really good at details,” says teammate Kansas Lytle, who has known Sierra for the past four years. “She helps keep everything light, and she’s fun to have around.”
As her high school career comes to a close, Sierra is looking to have fun, play hard, and make some memories with the girls that she’s become so close to. “I hope that they remember me as a being a hard worker on the court and never giving up in the game or in any situation,” she says. • HSSI