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Girl On Fire: Penn State Alum Paves Way For Military Women With ‘TORCH Warriorwear’

For young people around the world, the future can be daunting, seemingly uncertain, and intimidating by its unknown nature. 

Yet for Penn State alum Haley McClain Hill, tomorrow is simply another chance to improve upon today and an opportunity to live fearlessly in the pursuit of passion. 

And in her case, the sky is quite literally the limit.

A U.S. Air Force Veteran and former Penn State ROTC student, McClain Hill served four years of active duty post-graduation. During this time, Lieutenant McClain Hill led a team of over three hundred airmen and was responsible for an estimated $9.8 million in Air Force assets as she served in a recruiting role within the special duties sector of the Air Force. 

But the story was far from over there, as McClain Hill quickly layered in another piece of the puzzle in the athletic arts — performing at the highest professional level as an NFL cheerleader at the same time.

Relocating to Atlanta, Georgia, for assignment, the Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, native also took a chance and tried out for the Atlanta Falcons cheerleaders, making the cut out of hundreds of dancers and crediting her success to mentorship from supportive Penn State alumni. As McClain Hill achieved her goals with both the Air Force and the NFL, the Penn State community was there each step of the way, perhaps far in distance but never far from mind. 

“Wherever there’s a Penn Stater, you’ve got a friend,” McClain Hill said. “You’ve got a family out here, which is the best to know.” 

Starting her Penn State career in 2013, the Air Force officer first learned the art of balancing passions without compromising authenticity. Right at home, the lesson was learned on campus as McClain Hill maintained academic excellence within her full ROTC scholarship while also cheering for Penn State at a Division I level. 

“I’d run over, change out of my uniform, and change right into my practice uniform,” McClain Hill said.

Courtesy of Haley McClain Hill

Majoring in math with a minor in economics, McClain Hill was driven to maintain her active schedule, as she was motivated by her grandmother’s involvement in the Air Force and her mother’s values of hard work and dedication. Cheering, studying, and striving within the ROTC program, McClain Hill was recognized as first in her class for field training in 2016, the ROTC equivalent of basic training, and also won the Warrior Spirit Award in Summer 2015 for her attitude, academic excellence, and energy.

“I feel very thankful, and I feel like I want to do my school right and do myself right,” McClain Hill said. “I’m just such a proud Penn Stater.” 

Recognized in multiple forums throughout undergrad, McClain Hill was also distinguished as a standout athlete by coaches and teammates. Within her lifelong dedication to service, McClain Hill was later invited back to serve as an assistant coach, mentoring the cheer team during the final year of her undergraduate career. 

McClain Hill fondly remembers meaningful events with Penn State cheerleading, including traveling for the Rose Bowl and cheering at the White Out game against Ohio State, as well as watching firsthand the tremendous talent and drive across all of Penn State’s athletics.

“Now that I’m older, I realize I was cheering for girls who are in the Olympics now, and I’m so proud,” McClain Hill said. “Those types of emotions… and just being there around your brothers and sisters is so much fun.” 

Elaborating on her time on campus, McClain Hill spoke about another spirit-building experience at Penn State, which was providing child care for head football coach James Franklin’s two daughters. 

“I was very busy, just constantly doing schoolwork and with sports, and I ended up babysitting for Coach Franklin for my last two years,” McClain Hill said. “They are the best people in the world, really just magical times. It was the best experience with the best family ever.”

A testament to her personal character, McClain Hill found joy in every action, big or small, growing an unbreakable, lifelong bond with her alma mater. As she reflected on cheering professionally across national stages with the NFL, McClain Hill remembered the feeling of Beaver Stadium fondly as a distinguished moment in time, unmatched by even the largest venues of professional cheerleading.

“There’s nothing that compares,” McClain Hill said. “The energy, being there early, and being so immersed in it… There’s just so much emotion. You’re just tied in, and your heart is with Penn State.”

Roots set and standards strengthened in Happy Valley, McClain Hill has remained committed to the same authenticity in every pursuit, most recently adding the title of “entrepreneur” to her resume. Seeing an opportunity to do good that aligned with her core values, McClain Hill created TORCH Warriorwear in 2021, a clothing brand designed for the personal comfort and overarching confidence of hardworking, driven, and passionate military women.

“When I started wearing my uniform everyday, as a woman, I just wanted to be more comfortable,” McClain Hill said. “I looked online and there was nothing like this, so I decided I should just figure out how to do this.”

Utilizing her dynamic background, McClain Hill crafted a line of bodysuits specifically engineered for a comfortable fit in accommodating and enhancing military uniforms. The young entrepreneur turned CEO also found inspiration from her time spent cheering, and she energized the brand through the deeply ingrained idea of empowerment by individual expression.

“With fashion and with cheer, ‘look good, feel good’ is a very big deal, to look a certain way and uphold a standard,” McClain Hill said. “You really want to show up for yourself and take care of yourself. That’s really what it comes down to.” 

Keeping this in mind, McClain Hill researched beyond her own experience to design the details of each piece, applying the stories of military women everywhere to the manufacturing and the message behind TORCH Warriorwear.

“I was noticing other women in the military who were on social media were showing what they looked like out of uniform and what they looked like in uniform,” McClain Hill said. “There are other girls out here like me, who have this drive to show the world that it’s more than just a uniform.”

“We’re women, too,” McClain Hill said. 

Amplifying female voices around the world, McClain Hill branded TORCH Warriorwear with a priority of power, a clear commitment to the uniqueness of womanhood, and the liberation of embracing all roles — both in and out of military fatigues.

“It’s just more than clothes. For women, it’s how we express ourselves and how we feel beautiful,” McClain Hill said. “When you’re wearing a uniform 80% of time, whether you’re serving in Australia or in the United States, there’s going to be a similarity there, and there’s something missing.”

Furthering the values behind the brand while also striving to bring attention to all branches of the military, McClain synthesized the mission of TORCH Warriorwear as a global call to embrace unique talents and find one’s fire on the path to full potential.

“There’s also the Army, the Marines, the Coast Guard, the Reserves…” McClain Hill said. “This kind of bodysuit is connecting a community of women who own the world, and they think, ‘I can be able to express myself creatively and still work.'”

Drawing eyes to the talents of military women everywhere, TORCH Warriorwear has expanded its reach internationally through community builders online, supplying women with professional resources just as carefully curated as the bodysuits intentionally designed for their lifestyle.

With an official TORCH Team of over 200 servicewomen as an army of support, the sisterhood has flourished quickly and fuelled the brand’s philanthropic roots, which are much aligned with their CEO’s original motivation demonstrated throughout her dynamic life.

“My biggest thing, and in college what got me through, was the women around me,” said McClain Hill. “You really should be surrounding yourself with people who are going to inspire you, push you to that next level, and allow you to grow.”

Empowering women with tools specifically designed for their success, TORCH Warriorwear facilitates a conversation and fosters inclusivity online in another simple act: returning the follow to each servicewoman who follows the brand online. In addition to this show of support, McClain Hill also offers one-on-one business coaching through her Boots to Business program and plans to expand her brand to begin a non-profit for female veteran entrepreneurs in the future.   

Courtesy of TORCH Warriorwear

“It’s very important, especially for young women, to find mentors [and] find women who have done amazing, successful things and find a way to be around them,” McClain Hill said. “Not to follow, but to be motivated.”

McClain Hill is as passionate as ever as she gives back, and she shared a final remark for young people about to embark on the ever-daunting future. 

“You have to take advantage of your gifts, you have to take advantage of your strengths, and you have to go after these things that are exciting to you,” McClain Hill said. “Most of the time, if it’s on your heart, you can do it. Just go for it and see what happens.”

Lighting the way through mentorship and message, Penn State alum and U.S. Air Force officer McClain Hill leads by example, challenging the perceived limits so often holding others back. Recognized for excellence from the Air Force to the NFL, this young entrepreneur has uplifted others across the world, all the while holding her Penn State pride close as she passes the torch to the next generation of female entrepreneurs.

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About the Author

Lizzie Palmieri

Lizzie is a junior majoring in marketing and psychology from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Ask her about Disney World, Diet Pepsi, or dancing on the Jumbotron at Beaver Stadium. When not causing general trouble, Lizzie enjoys playing golf, performing in the theatre, and being the CEO of reorganizing the fridge. Her favorite thing to do is hang out with her sassy sidekick, 18-year-old Italian Greyhound, Macaroni. Follow her on Twitter @lizziepalmieri if your deepest desire is bestie vibes only.

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