During her four years on the Case Western Reserve University women’s basketball team, senior guard/forward Hillary Hellmann has left a mark on the team, and in the record books. In 99 games during her collegiate career—90 as a starter—Hellmann collected 1,593 points, second in team history, and a record 220 three-pointers.
But while she was succeeding on the court, Hellmann also was excelling in the classroom and devoting much of her spare time to helping others.
For all of those pursuits combined, Hellmann was named one of 10 finalists for the Jostens Trophy, an honor bestowed on Division III basketball players.
Though the award ultimately went to Madison Temple of Thomas More University, Hellmann was flattered by the recognition as a finalist.
“It’s a huge honor,” said Hellmann, who also was named an All-University Athletic Association First Team honoree this season. “I really would not have been able to get here without the help and support of my friends, family, coaches, teammates and also the athletics staff. They have done an awesome job of supporting me through the entire four years.”
The Josten’s Trophy finalist recognition came on the heels of a strong senior season for Hellmann, who helped the women’s basketball team to a 15-10 finish. Over the season, she started in all 25 games, and had a 42.2 shooting percentage, an 8.5 rebound per game average (finishing third among University Athletic Association [UAA] players), an average of 1.0 blocks per game (seventh-best in the UAA) and 10 double-doubles. Her 437 points throughout put her first among UAA players in scoring during the regular season.
But while Hellmann appreciates the individual honors she has earned, the awards only mean so much.
“It’s more about how you can reflect on your team and where they’re going and what they’ve done so far,” Hellmann said. “I think we can be really proud of what we did this year.”
Others took notice of Hellmann’s impact on the program.
At the conclusion of the team’s 67-55 win at Brandeis University, an opposing coach approached Hellmann and teammate Kara Hageman, a graduate student who returned to play this year after a season-ending injury early last year, with congratulations on a successful career, adding that they had transformed the way the team is viewed.
“For someone to come up to you outside of your program and say something like that, that was pretty special,” Hellmann said.
Off the court
In her classes at Case Western Reserve, Hellmann has earned a 3.714 grade point average while majoring in mechanical engineering.
Hellmann used her athletic and academic skills to help others through several volunteer activities. She volunteered with Spartans for Special Olympics and at Mary McLeod Bethune PreK-8 as a math tutor with her teammates. She also traveled to Botswana to install solar panels through a thermodynamics class.
“It’s very rewarding to be able to have some of those skills and then teach them to other people,” she said.
Now, with commencement just two months away, Hellmann is preparing to move to Boston, where she will work for Proctor and Gamble with Gillette.
“It’s going to be fun because you don’t just do one thing every day,” she said. “You might be down on the floor one day, or designing a machine the next, or going to a different country to assemble a machine. So it’s fun and diverse in that way.”
Read more to find out how Hellmann answered this week’s five questions.
1. What new hobby would you pursue if you had more time?
I do have more time now that basketball isn’t consuming my life. I’m going to try to get more into yoga because I enjoy the connectedness you feel afterward. Last summer, I went on a trip to India through Case [Western Reserve] and we went to a yoga university. It was super cool because you got to actually practice yoga in a holistic way, and it is not westernized at all.
Many of the practices had nothing to do with your body movement. It was more about your breathing and more soulful, and also combined with the way you eat. It was fascinating.
2. Where is your favorite spot on or near campus to work, read or study?
[Sears] think[box]. It was such a big part of my life for 2 1/2 years [as a student employee]. I was there before work, after work, just trying to get things done; even now, I spend a fair amount of time there just because I have project meetings. It’s a very enjoyable space because you get to be around a lot of creative people. It’s fun sometimes to just walk around and see what other people are working on because there’s a lot of cool stuff going on around campus and people use the space for a variety of different things.
3. What new place would you most like to travel?
Probably Spain, particularly Barcelona or Madrid. My sister recently went there for a study abroad trip and she loved it.
4. If you could learn another language, what would you choose?
I would try to learn German. I took Spanish for 12 years of my life, all through grade school and high school, and I really liked it—there just wasn’t a ton of passion for it at the time. I have some family members who can speak German and also family members in Germany so it would be cool to connect with them through that.
5. What’s your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve?
My favorite part is that I can have such a well-rounded experience. I’m able to get a great education while also playing very high-level basketball. Also, the social aspect of things, like being able to find great friends and be involved in a sorority [Phi Mu] and a professional fraternity [Theta Tau]. You don’t always get to do all of those things, so I really think I found a great fit in Case Western [Reserve]. It’s allowed me to be a better version of myself in a lot of ways. Just to have the opportunity to do all those things was something I never expected out of my college experience and something I can be proud of.