Kylie Hilliard, a 2022 Glastonbury High School graduate, will take her creative juices and athletic abilities to Georgia to attend Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).
“I am very excited to go down there and explore what I’m really passionate about,” said Hilliard, who is leaning towards double majoring in animation and graphic design. “I have always loved anything I could get my hands on to create something.”
It was an art teacher at GHS that told Hilliard about the college and thought it would be a good fit.
The school has two locations in Georgia and Hilliard will attend the Atlanta-based one, which specializes in the area of digital media and animation.
Once she realized that she would be able to compete at the college as well, she was sold.
“It was always on my radar, especially because I could run down there,” said Hilliard, “A lot of art and trade schools don’t give you that opportunity.”
Last fall she visited the school and said she fell in love with the environment, which blended all of her favorite things together.
Continuing both passions is exciting for Hilliard, yet her path to The Peach State wasn’t an even road.
The artistic part came naturally, but the running part took some time.
She recalled her mom taking her to work as a kid where the young artist would leave her mark.
“I would draw on the walls, which is fine with dry erase markers until I used sharpies on the bottom half of the wall,” recalled Hilliard. “I think you can still see some of it today in her office.”
Hilliard’s parents were both runners in high school and collegiately, yet she had no interest in the endurance sport as a kid. Instead she tried a variety of sports, including karate and tennis.
It was only when her parents made her an offer she couldn’t refuse that running became an option.
“My parents and I made a deal that I could go to a really good art program in New York City for two weeks in the summer if I just ran cross country my freshman year. I obviously didn’t want to let that opportunity pass up so I decided I would try running once and never do it again,” recalled Hilliard. “I ended up falling in love with the sport and here I am four years later.”
“It was a bribe, but I am really glad that it happened,” she continued. “I have made some of the strongest connections with my friends on my team in Glastonbury and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Shortly after joining the extremely successful cross country and track and field teams at GHS, the team and individual results started to add up.
During this past indoor and outdoor track season, Hilliard posted personal-best times in the 600, 800, 1500, and 1600 meters and was part of a pair of relay teams that excelled both regionally and nationally.
She joined forces with Annika Paluska, Ava Gattinella, Brooke Strauss to win the 4x800 relay in the New England Championship on March 5 and then was part of the school’s 4x8 team that won the Rising Stars division at the New Balance National Indoor Championship a week later.
She capped her senior season with another trip to Nationals in June, competing in the 4x800 and running the 1600 meters in the Distance Medley Relay (DMR) to cap the outdoor season.
Hilliard said the accolades are satisfying and the trips to Nationals were memorable, but it was group runs in practice or conversations with teammates that she will miss the most.
“Those small moments and having that connection with the team are more important to me,” she said. “Success is great, but if you don’t have anyone to celebrate it with, what is the point?”
Hilliard, who was born and raised in Glastonbury, will make the nearly 1,000 mile journey to join a Bees’ running program that competes in the Appalachian Athletic Conference (ACC) and are led by second-year head coach Chris Benassi.
Hilliard added that she had an instant connection with the team and ultimately chose the school “to give myself the best opportunity in life that I can.”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin