WHS grad making waves in women's football

Skye Kinkade
Weed High School graduate Sierra Skeen makes a tackle during a D.C. Divas game earlier this season. Skeen was recently named Defensive Rookie of the Year in the an all-women's professional full contact football association.

Weed native Sierra Skeen was recently named Defensive Rookie of the Year after a standout season with the D.C. Divas, an all-women’s professional full contact football association based in Washington, D.C.

A K-9 handler with the U.S. Army, Skeen, age 26, said she will miss the 2020 season while she fulfills her third overseas assignment, but she will be back in time for the 2021 season with the Divas.

The Divas finished the 2019 season 6-3, averaging 49.4 points a game while allowing their opponents an average of just 27 points per game, said Skeen, who leads the Diva’s defense with tackles for loss.

In addition to her Rookie of the Year honor, Skeen made the second team All-American and was the only rookie to do so. Only 10 D.C. Diva players made the team, which played at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado, during which the National Conference beat the American Conference 35-26.

Although a health scare with her K-9, Reno, prevented her from attending, Skeen also made the 2019 American United team.

Team United had a roster of 35 women athletes, chosen from more than 125 applicants, Skeen explained. The Women’s Football Alliance Team United beat the Mississauga Indoor Football Association’s Team Canada 49-0 at Oakville, Ontario, to become 2019 international bowl champions.

“Looking back on the 2019 season there were some ups and downs,” said Skeen. “As a rookie I knew I had a lot to learn – not just the game of football but the importance and the pressure of starting on the defensive side of things.”

Skeen said she also learned about the injuries that come with the game of football.

“During the second meet we had with Pittsburg I suffered from a severe concussion in the first half (and was) unable to finish the rest of the game,” she said. She was out for a few practices afterward.

“You would be surprised how many injuries and obstacles not only myself but my teammates faced daily,” Skeen said, “and in all honesty I don’t know a stronger group of women than my teammates,” some of which suffered injuries that ended their season and some who were “too stubborn to get checked out” and worked through it on their own.

Skeen said she learned the true meaning of resilience.

“In my career field I hear (the word resilience) thrown around almost daily but to be a part of this organization and see the hard work my teammates and coaches endured really illustrated the concept,” she said.

A 2010 Weed High School graduate, Skeen joined the Air Force in 2013. She was deployed from 2014–2015 as a law enforcement specialist to the United Arab Emirates. At the end of 2015, she switched military branches and became a K-9 handler for the Army.

Skeen and Reno were deployed to Iraq from 2017–2018 and she finished her tour in Baghdad.

Skeen is now stationed in Fort Myer, Va. Her military duties include assignments at Arlington National Cemetery as well as presidential missions.

“I’m truly honored to be a part of the D.C. Divas. This will always be one of my greatest accomplishments as an athlete. I look forward to the seasons to come and definitely have much more of an appreciation for the game, and to all the female athletes out there, I’m rooting for you,” Skeen said.

She gave a special thank you to her teammates, her friends and family, especially her aunt Lisa and her mother, Lori Heie who took time to fly out for her first home game in Virginia.

“And especially to my father, Charles Skeen, you will always be my biggest supporter both on and off the field,” Skeen said. “He loves the game just as much as I do and it’s pretty safe to say I get my athletic abilities from him.”

Skeen said her dad flew all the way from Siskiyou County to attend all her home games, as well as more than 10 practices throughout the season. He also went over film with her, Skeen said.

Skeen is the daughter of Lori and Todd Heie and Charles Jr. and Suzy Skeen, all of Lake Shastina. Her grandparents are Gene and Angie Skeen of Weed and Larry and Barbara Lee of Montague.