With the season and the academic year effectively over for seniors in Arkansas, Alma’s Hillarie Mata can only be positive and look towards the future.

“Hill is really a hard worker and she loves to compete,” said Lady Airedale track & field coach Kathy Jones. “She has such a fun personality. Not only does she have natural speed but she has worked incredibly hard to get her times down.”

Mata’s plan is to attend the University of Arkansas and study K-12 physical education to become a coach.

“My favorite classes were athletics and English. I always loved athletics because I am a competitor and I love competing with a team and being part of one,” said Mata. “I liked English because for the longest time I wanted to be a sports journalist and it just always stuck out to me.”

Mata was involved in both basketball and track & field for the Lady Airedales.

“What kept me practicing and playing is competing. I love to compete and be a part of a team,” Mata said.

The senior Lady Airedale got involved with sports thanks to her dad.

“He inspired me as an athlete because he always pushed and taught me new skills and things about the sports I played at a young age,” said Mata.

She earned All-Conference last season as a part of the 4 x 100-meter relay team. Her season like all the other student-athletes was cut short this year because of the worldwide pandemic outbreak of COVID-19. Mata was still in post-season basketball and hadn’t had a chance to compete in a track meet this semester. However, she had confidence in her fellow teammates this season.

“What makes my team a good team is we encourage and support each other in every event,” Mata said. “I overcome a bad play or even by thinking about the next. You can’t dwell on the bad or the next event or the next play will be bad.”

Mata added that she enjoyed competing at the state track meet and would like to run at the John McDonnell Field at the University of Arkansas.

“I am sad I didn’t get to see her run in a meet this season, but she maintained a positive attitude through this crazy time,” Jones said. “Proud to be her coach.”

Growing up in Alma Mata has some advice for the next group of athletes waiting to become a Lady Airedale or an Airedale.

“Never stop striving to be the best player you can be and never lose confidence in yourself,” said Mata.

Fun Questions with Hillarie Mata

What is your biggest fear? Probably snakes

What would be your superpower? read minds

What kind of pet would you like? A French bulldog

What would you rather be doing right now? I would rather be practicing with my team than be quarantined at home.

Biggest pet peeve? When people smack.

Annoying habit? I have is I bite my nails when I am nervous.

Who inspires you? My inspiration is my parents.

When this crisis is over what is the first thing you will do? Probably go to Slim Chickens.

Since you have free time what have you be catching up on? I have gotten caught up on my shows. The show I have been watching the most is All American on Netflix.