Mesa — Red Mountain High School is home to over 3,000 students and is the largest high school based on enrollment in Arizona. Among the most recent graduates from Red Mountain High is an Apache, Siera Phillips, who, despite her admittedly small stature, is leaving a large legacy behind. Siera did not grow up on the San Carlos reservation, but she is still “very proud to be Apache.” Siera’s parents are Zac and Carol (Skenadore) Phillips. Siera’s mother grew up on the reservation and Siera says, “I have pride in knowing where my family came from.”
Attending a Division 1 (5A) school puts any athlete up against a lot of competition, yet Siera never let big struggles stand in the way of her 5”3’ inches. “I have always had to fight for my spot on the team,” she says. “I am not the size of a typical pitcher, which meant I had to train and work harder. I have played the last eight years and it wasn’t up until a few years ago that I started being successful. When my pitches weren’t hitting the right spot or my hitting wasn’t how it should be, I went outside with my dad and he would catch and hit with me until everything started to get better. I have learned that success doesn’t come easy and you have to work at it every day and dedicate yourself. Sometimes that meant coming home after three games in one day and putting in additional time on my own to work on my hitting and pitching.”
Siera’s hard work and dedication began to pay off in junior high. Her freshman year at Shepard Junior High, Siera set 10 school records, including most strikeouts: 237 in 18 games (the previous record was 147 in 19 games). She also set the record for least number of strikeouts at bat with 0.
Four years on her high school’s softball team have amounted to a mountain of awards. Most recently, Siera was named to the 2012 All-Arizona Softball team. She has also won the 2012 All American Award, 2012 AIA All-Division First Team for pitching and outfield, 2012 AIA All-Division 1/5A Section player of the year, 2012 City of Mesa Player of the Year, 2011 All-Arizona Team, 2011 All-Arizona 5A First Team, 2011 SE Valley Player of the Year, 2011 5A-1 Fiesta Region Player of the Year, 2011 All-Tournament MVP NABI High School Nationals, 2010 5A-1 All Region (Hon. Mention – Pitching), 2010 MVP NABI (Native American) High School Nationals, 2010 NABI High School Nationals-2nd place, 2010 NIAA Women’s Fast-pitch National Champions, 2009 MVP Shepherd Softball Team, and 2009 MVP NIAA Women’s Fast-pitch Nationals.
Siera’s high school softball team has won the state championship in Div. 1 (5A) for the last three years in a row. This week, she is pitching at the Jim Thorpe Games in Oklahoma, playing for Oklahoma Intertribal.
When asked about her role models, Siera says, “A lot of coaches and adults have helped me reach my goals, but my biggest role models would be my parents. They taught me to never give up and to keep fighting for what I want.”
Her advice for her Apache peers would be, “to keep working hard at what you want to do and stick with what you love to do. Don’t ever let people bring you down. Stay dedicated and never give up on yourself. There is always going to be someone throwing negative comments your way and the best thing you can do is take the criticism and let it motivate you to be better.”
Siera will be attending Dixie State College in Utah this coming fall, where she will be continuing her softball career. She is considering majoring in communications or sports medicine.