Alumni Spotlight: Sierra Heisey

When the crowd stopped cheering and the track cleared out something didn’t sit right with Sierra Heisey. Although the race was over, Heisey still felt as if she hadn’t yet crossed the finish line. That was when she knew that her race wasn’t over just yet. Now, she was ready to take her running career to the next level.  

Sierra Heisey is a North Penn alumni who accomplished many things over her four years as part of North Penn’s girl’s track and field team. Heisey was a leg in the winning 4×100 Penn Relays team in 2018 and 2022, as well as a leg in the Suburban 1 All-League Second team 4×100 relay team in 2021, and also earned herself a varsity letter all four years of high school for indoor and outdoor track. With all of these accomplishments, it is no surprise that Heisey is now running division one track and field at West Virginia University. Playing a division one sport is no small feat and comes with numerous challenges, especially when it comes to juggling school on the side. 

The time consumption for a sport at a higher level increases a lot more. With lifts three times a week, practice 5-6 days a week, mandatory study halls, and so much more, it can be very difficult to maintain your grades

— Sierra Heisey

“The time consumption for a sport at a higher level increases a lot more. With lifts three times a week, practice 5-6 days a week, mandatory study halls, and so much more, it can be very difficult to maintain your grades,” Heisey shared. “Doing a sport in college is a lot to adjust to but for those who can handle a busy life and cope well with stress, it is nothing you can’t adjust to.” 

While running at such a competitive level may be overly intense at times, Heisey has also found a wide variety of benefits from the environment. 

“Running at West Virginia allows me to see a lot of new things that come out of track. The adrenaline, the competitiveness, and the talent of some of the amazing athletes are just a few things you see,” Heisey explained. “Running here can be hard at times but it’s all worth it in the end.”

Heisey knows that she would have never been given the opportunity to experience running at a division one level if it weren’t for her high school coaches that immediately saw her potential and jumped at the chance to make her a star.

“North Penn had such talented coaches that saw potential in students as little as freshmen. They saw it in us before we even saw it in ourselves. During my time there, they did everything in their power to educate and teach athletes, like me, skills and techniques that come as part of track and field,” Heisey shared. “Their drive for success and how hard they trained us with workouts is what made these opportunities happen.” 

Heisey learned a lot from North Penn and grew with the help of her coaches. Their guidance is particularly what helped guide Heisey to compete at the level she is at now. That is why it is important to her to consistently get feedback from her coaches now, in order for her to flourish when competing against such dedicated athletes. 

“My coaches are here to better my skills. My coach hears my needs and also isn’t afraid to critique my technique and form with an explanation of what I did wrong and how to fix it. She is always working with me to improve every little flaw,” Heisey shared.  

Obviously, Heisey isn’t just attending West Virginia just to take on the track and field world, but she also has plans to become a sports psychologist. 

“My hopes are to start by working with division one athletes and hopefully work my way up to the professional level,” Heisey revealed. 

For Heisey though, sports psychology isn’t just about getting a job. For her, this is something much deeper. This is her way of helping athletes so they don’t have to face the struggles that she once did.  

“I choose this path because not many young athletes know that with sports, ninety percent of your performance is based on your mentality. I went through a time in high school where I was falling out of love with the sport and was starting to have no interest in it because of how much stress and anxiety came with it,” Heisey shared. 

“I would get in my head a lot and psych myself out before my race on meet days. It is actually something I still struggle with but I am working with a sports psychologist to fix it. The moral of my decision is that I want to help other athletes who are struggling to prevent them from falling out of love with their sport,” concluded Heisey. 

Heisey knows the importance of track and field for herself as well as others. This is why she consistently tries to keep her love for the sport alive. Running has given her so much more than she can ask for, because to her it isn’t just a sport. 

“Running is important to me because it is something that I look forward to and am very passionate about. It is what keeps me going and keeps me organized as well as offers new challenges for me to face every day,” Heisey stated. “Track and field has brought a lot of happiness and long-lasting friendships into my life and it completed little Sierra’s dreams of becoming a college athlete.”

While Heisey has opened a new chapter of her life, she still chooses to reflect on all the incredible memories she made at North Penn on and off the track. 

“I definitely miss the connections I had with my school friends and it is sad seeing the people I grew up with all go on separate paths, but I know that its just part of life,” Heisey said with a sigh. “I also miss my former teammates and the bonds we had pushing each other to be the best. When you are on a high school sports team, everyone ends up being your family for the rest of your life because they share the same pains and laughs with you for years.” 

Reflecting back on more of her high school memories, Heisey understands that there were good and bad moments, but that is just part of growing up. But she learned many valuable lessons that she will always carry with her. 

“If you are passionate about something don’t let anything stop you from doing it. You will face setbacks and that’s normal but it’s what you are willing to do to bounce back from them that matters,” Heisey explained. “I would tell the younger generation not to force yourself to do something because of someone else’s expectations. If you want to do it, do it for yourself.”

While Heisey chose to stick with her sport even through the many challenges she faced, she wants to make it clear to any athlete that ending your sports career is always an acceptable path as well. 

“If you don’t want to continue your sport anymore that’s okay. Find a new passion, sports don’t always have to be your main priority,” Heisey stated. 

While anticipating her Freshman outdoor track season as well as many more indoor and outdoor track seasons at West Virginia, Heisey has many goals she hopes to accomplish. 

“I am aiming to hit some pretty fast personal best times, and with that continue to perfect my technique. I would also love to make it to the Big 12 conference championships,” Heisey revealed. 

With such big goals in mind, it is important that Heisey remembers one of her favorite lessons she has learned from being on the track.

“There are going to be days where I will face failure and there will be days I face success. But no matter what, both are okay because there is always room for improvement,” Heisey said with a smile. 

Now that her career as a division one college athlete at West Virginia is beginning, Heisey is excited that she is finally able to finish that race.

“I knew I wasn’t done running after high school. I knew it was time to take my athletics to the highest potential I could go,” Heisey declared.