CNJ file photo
Aimee Hilburn was recently named the female prep athlete of the year by the Albuquerque Journal. Hilbrun will play basketball at Texas State University.
By Eric Butler: CNJ Correspondent
To be a lifeguard, one has to prove proficiency in certain areas — swimming and life-saving techniques being the most prominent.
You don’t have to do everything Aimee Hilburn has done to get a job.
These days, one of those watching over the swimmers at the Texico municipal pool is not only a certified lifeguard but also the female prep athlete of the year pick by the Albuquerque Journal.
The statewide newspaper annually selects one male and one female athlete of the year from the high school ranks. In the past, Clovis High’s Hank Baskett and Joey Garcia were chosen on the boys’ side — when both had just completed their junior years. Hilburn, who just graduated from CHS, got the nod this year for excelling in three sports.
“I’ve gotten congratulations from a lot of people. I didn’t have a clue they did that,” says Hilburn, who plans on playing basketball at Texas State University in San Marcos.
“I’m not going to say I don’t like the attention — it’s nice when people acknowledge your hard work and everything. It’s good that people see that,” Hilburn adds.
As she has done every year since she was a freshman, Hilburn was a major contributor for the Clovis girls basketball team. Finishing as the all-time assists leader in school history, Hilburn helped lead the Wildcats into the state semifinals her senior season to follow up a junior year that culminated in a state championship.
But hoops wasn’t the only sport where Hilburn stood out.
After skipping volleyball her junior year, Hilburn reemerged and quickly became the go-to hitter on that squad — a team that was just edged by defending state champion Mayfield in the state quarterfinals.
Then, after basketball season, Hilburn joined the Clovis track team. The CHS girls won the state track title as Hilburn grabbed an individual state championship in the javelin.
“She laid out her junior year, but by the time we got her again as a senior, she was just so confident in what she could do,” says Darrel Ray, who coached Hilburn this past season in volleyball and track. “She felt she could crossover and could do well. I think that showed in all three of her sports. For us, she was such a dominant (volleyball) player. She was an attention-getter everywhere we went. If you were going to beat us, you were going to have to stop her.”
Although another state basketball championship was not in the cards for Hilburn in March, Ray notes that she was still a motivated athlete at the track as her senior year was winding up.
“She got better every week. It wasn’t just marginally, either,” says Ray of Hilburn’s javelin throwing. “It was four feet (better), five feet, every week. I was so impressed by the way the girl stepped up and took care of business.”
Poolside in Texico in the afternoon, Hilburn may sometimes wonder how she could have done as a swimmer as well. But, asked about that possibility, her answer reveals the sport that has always mattered most to her.
“I think that swimming was during basketball season, wasn’t it?” Hilburn says.