By Skye Kinkade

WASHINGTON, DC – After graduating from Weed High School in 2010 and joining the Air Force in 2013, Sierra Skeen is now a K-9 handler with the US Army and recently became a member of the DC Divas, an all-women’s professional full contact football association based in Washington, DC.

Skeen, age 26, was one of several players from across the country who attended a Jan. 14 press conference on the steps of the National Football League’s headquarters in New York, asking for greater recognition of women’s professional football.

Skeen has always been active in sports, she said. She played T-ball as soon as she was old enough and Little League baseball (sometimes as the only girl on the team). One summer she played Pop Warner football with the South Siskiyou Knights.

She excelled at basketball, volleyball and softball at WHS and played after graduation with the Yreka City Softball League. Skeen also played volleyball at College of the Siskiyous before enlisting in the Air Force.

“I have always had a love for the game of football whether I’m watching or playing,” Skeen said. “When I got the opportunity to try out for a professional team I felt right at home in my comfort zone and was able to show that I still have my athletic abilities.”

Skeen pointed to a pivotal moment in her life when she was in the seventh grade. Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey had “a serious talk” with her about the benefits of the US Army when they met at the Living Memorial Sculpture Garden on Memorial Day. That talk, she said, resulted in her pursuing a military career.

While serving in the Air Force, Corporal Skeen 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 US Army.

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

In May 2018, the Siskiyou Womens Veterans presented Skeen with a Quilt of Valor and later, Reno was presented with his own quilt.

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

Skeen said she lives by the following quote by Henry Ward Beecher: “Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself.”

The DC Divas were founded in 2000 as one of 10 charter franchises in the national women’s professional football alliance, which includes more than 50 teams in cities from across the US, according to their website.

The team made their full contact football debut in the spring of 2001 and have been successful since, ranking first among all women’s professional football association teams in victories, playoff appearances and division championships. The team has a 133-43 record in 18 seasons and have played in several championship games, earning three national titles.

The Divas have a roster of more than 60 players comprised of women from varied professional and athletic backgrounds, many who work full time in addition to their football schedules, the website states.

The Divas will play their first game of the season at home in Springfield, Vir. on April 13 against the Pittsburgh Passion.

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.