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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The Battalion May 4, 2024

Ace of Spades, Queen of Hearts

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Sets tied. The perfect hit. The stars aligned, the sniper struck. Ciera “Cici” Hecht, with her calm exterior, laser focus and sharp eye, takes the shot. 

These sudden bursts from a steady exterior have made Hecht the playmaker on dozens of occasions, and a reliable teammate. Graduate libero Allison Fields said these sneak attacks and air of confidence are a hallmark of Hecht’s style.

“On the court, Cici is like a sniper, she can get up and hit the ball and put it down,” Fields said. “She has her toolbox of shots, she’ll be high up in the air and she’ll do a real shot and no one’s expecting it, she hides it very well. She’s a well-rounded attacker, and she’s on the shorter side of an attacker for volleyball, but she doesn’t act like it.”

Even in times where sophomore libero Brooke Frazier had doubts on the court, it was Hecht’s confidence that helped bring her back to center, she said.

“She’s always steady, she’s never going to be super obnoxious or super down,” Frazier said. “She’s a steady player and she makes everyone on the court feel calm. Last year, my freshman year, playing with Ciera made me feel calm because I knew she had my back and I trusted her on the court.”

Underneath the intimidating game face lies a compassionate heart, with a focus on supporting her teammates. Fields said knowing both sides of Hecht has been a highlight of her time on the team.

“She’s a great person, such a bold human being, and gorgeous,” Fields said. “You’re kind of intimidated by her when you first meet her, but she has a great heart. It’s been a blessing to get to know her. She is the most stable and consistent person when it comes to her emotions and how she presents herself, she’s never high or low, she’s just Cici.”

Hecht said she is proud to be known for her calm consistency, and the role she plays as a teammate and friend. 

“I like to be a calming force, the person that everyone can come to, to be there for [my team],” Hecht said. “On and off the court, I want people to come to me with volleyball problems or anything outside, just to be there and give them advice, or just listen if they need that from me. It’s taken me some time to learn how to do that.”

Hecht’s stability was tested by being thrown into her freshman year as a Division I student athlete at one of the largest universities in the country, but she has turned that challenge into a mission to help others. 

“My freshman year was a bit of a shock,” Hecht said. “My first semester I came in and had a season right away in the fall, it was a lot for me balancing school and everything. I’ve grown a lot from that, and now we have a lot of new girls that have come in, and I want to help them not struggle as much.”

Likening her to an older sister, Frazier said Hecht was an active participant in helping her adjust to college life, even before starting at A&M.

“I first met Ciera when I came up on an unofficial visit … when I was a junior in high school,” Frazier said. “I stayed with her, we went to dinner, and she was so welcoming and I knew we were going to be really close when I came up here. She was one of the people in particular who made me feel like this is my home, because she was always checking in on me.” 

Hecht’s big heart has gone beyond just freshmen, as she continually supports all her teammates, despite their age or relationship to her, Fields said.

“Her and I have had some really good conversations just laying down in the training room,” Fields said. “She’s a very good listener and asks good questions and is a very caring person. Even though we’re not best friends or hang out 24/7, she’s someone who I’m not afraid to share things with, because I know she has my best interests at heart and really cares.”

With her team behind her, the outside hitter has set her sights high for the upcoming year: a spot in the national tournament, like her freshman year, which she wants to live alongside her teammates. 

“I want to go back and have that experience with this new team, it’s something really special,” Hecht said. “We’ve had a lot of changes over the past couple years, girls graduating and new players, and they’ve meshed well with our culture and standards… and our returners like Brooke [Frazier], Maddie [Bowser] and Allie [Fields] have grown so much as players, from when they’ve gotten here to now. I’ve seen growth on the court and as people.”

The achievement doesn’t stop after practice ends, as the 2020 and 2021 SEC Academic Honor Roll student is interested in attending law school following graduation. Because of her high standards, Hecht said she has to intentionally set aside time to care of herself, and believes this is especially important for any student.

“Take time for yourself, and [don’t] lose yourself,” Hecht said. “It’s really easy to get caught up, and being a student athlete is hard. It’s rewarding … you make lifelong friends, there are so many great things about it, but it’s very demanding. Mental health is such a big thing right now, and people need to be aware of that. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself coming into college. People know you’re freshman or at a new school, there’s a lot of new things going on, it can be a lot of pressure and feel like the weight of the world on your shoulders. You don’t have to feel the pressure to be the best all the time.”

Even with a world’s worth of weight, Hecht doesn’t waver, as she shows that the only person who can determine her worth is herself. This seemingly impossible balance of self-worth and sharp honesty, is what sets Hecht apart, Fields said.

“Off the court, she lives life very honestly,” Fields said. “She knows who she is, she knows what she wants, she lives boldly in that. She’s a very honest person, she’s not going to allow people to walk over her. This goes into volleyball too, because she’s going to go for it and she’s not going to allow anyone to tell her otherwise. She has a very good heart and is a very honest person with herself, and doesn’t allow anyone else to determine her greatness or define her.” 

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