Student Spotlight: Jocelyn Hillyer

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A great leader takes her final bow

Twenty-four-year-old Pierce College student Jocelyn Hillyer is a humble athlete, a military wife, a mother, a future educator and a decorated Pierce volleyball player. Her drive and ambition has made a definite impact to those around her and added a sense of family to the team.

Taimane Rice / Staff Photo
Jocelyn Hillyer won the AVCA, All-American two-year college award as a first team pick among fifteen other state wide college students.

As a member of the Raider volleyball team, she earned a number of awards last year. Hillyer won most valuable player for the Northwest Athletic Conference West Division. She was also voted player of the week for Under Armour, and the national Amateur Volleyball Coaches Association award.

Hillyer played for Pierce in 2015 before moving to Texas. She had a scholarship for Texas State University, but found the atmosphere and environment was not for her. She returned to Pierce last year.

Women’s volleyball coach Greg Finel was captivated by Hillyer’s skill, heart and passion. “Hillyer is one of the top five, best female athletes to ever play at Pierce. I don’t know if there will ever be another player like Jocelyn in the Northwest Athletic Conference again,” he said.

Hillyer has a soft but noticeable leadership. She does not allow fear or nerves to set in when she plays because she trusts in her ability. “She has added dimension to the team. There is an underlying feeling that you have to play up to this potential, because you know she’s going to do the same thing,” Finel said.

Duncan Stevenson / Contributing Photo
Jocelyn Hillyer was first introduced to Volleyball when her high school coach approached her. She says she was not any good at first, but today she is one of the top 5 female Pierce athletes.

Teammate Kenzie Seitz relied on Hillyer in order to gain momentum. “Every ball she puts down just fueled me to get the next one dug for her to attack again,” Seitz said.

As a high school freshman, Hillyer made varsity, even though she did not play well. As a beginner, she discovered the value of being a humble athlete. “It puts an aspect on who you are to society and what you cannot only bring to your team but to the world,” she said.

The team would take Hillyer’s 2-year-old daughter with them to games like she was their tiny Raider mascot. Hillyer said she felt as though she had a second family with her team because the player’s loved ones watched over her daughter while they cheered.

The family dynamic moved the Raiders to succeed. The team built a stronger connection because they adopted an “I got your back” mentality. “We cared about each other’s lives and got to know each other on a deeper level, which made us a family – not just a team,” Seitz said.

Hillyer will be exchanging her Raider uniform for a Geoduck this fall. Thanks to a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics partial scholarship, she can further her education at Evergreen State College.

She will continue working towards her degree in teaching kindergarten through third grade at Evergreen. Her love of teaching extends from a charming place in her heart. “I didn’t have a good experience growing up with teachers,” she said. “I also came from a minority town, and we didn’t have the resources or teachers that fostered my learning, so I want to be that teacher for children.”

Hillyer took her last bow on Pierce’s court in November; but she will be bringing her determination and influence to Evergreen. “I hope she continues to play for the love and passion of the sport,” Finel said.