SAN DIEGO — After sneaking into Autzen Stadium a couple of summers ago to snap photos and run wind sprints, Sierra Campisano and her mother, Cristina, began to worry. The gate was closed, so they had to hit the emergency button to escape, racing out before anyone came to check on the two.

Sierra has been an Oregon fan for years. Her mother’s best friend, Shannon — “a crazy Duck fan” — graduated from Oregon and has always talked about her time in Eugene. So, when they heard the news that Kelly Graves was hired in April 2014, Sierra began to set her sights on Oregon. Later that month, the staff called to offer her a scholarship.

Turns out, the Ducks have remained the front-runner ever since. She committed on January 13.

“I feel close to (the coaches) in so many different ways,” Campisano said. “I really believe in Kelly Graves’ mission and everything that he does.”Sierra Campisano and her mother Cristina Campisano

That relationship continued when Graves and assistant Nicole Powell visited Campisano’s home. Although she already knew Graves well before, the visit was the first time she met Powell. She instantly felt close to her and remembers Graves loving Cristina’s chocolate chip butterscotch cookies, even protecting them from Sierra’s younger brothers. 

“I knew right away how much I could learn form her

[Nicole Powell],” Campisano said.

Sierra’s prolific season last year at Torrey Pines High netted averages of 24.7 points, 12.6 rebounds and 5.9 blocks per game while shooting 34 percent from 3-point range at 6-foot-4. She also earned first-team San Diego All-CIF honors.

Campisano took an unofficial visit to campus and watched the Ducks lose to Oregon State on January 11. After the game, the entire coaching staff visited with the Campisano family. Graves drew up offensive plays that he would’ve used during the game that featured Campisano. A picture of that meeting still hangs in their house. 

“I came home and I just knew I wanted to commit,” Sierra said.

When she committed, Campisano made Graves promise two things: She wants to play Connecticut while at Oregon (the only college that she said didn’t recruit her) and wear No. 52, the same number her mother wore at Northern Arizona. “It’s family, tradition and honor,” Sierra said. 

When Campisano enrolls at Oregon next June, she’ll be a part of “program-defining” class for Graves and his staff. The group now includes Jayde Woods, Mallory McGwire, Morgan Yaeger,Lydia Giomi and Ruthy Hebard.

“It’s all put together,” Campisano said of the 2016 class. “We all want to achieve the same goal. They believe in me so much. They’ve told us … this is the class that’s going to explode.”

Although Campisano has spent the last seven months verbally committed to Oregon, this summer, Graves and assistant Mark Campbell were at 90 percent of her club games across the country, eventually picking up the nickname “The Fan Club.” — “All the parents were like, ‘He must really like her,’” Cristina said. 

“There was one game, we had no crowd, and Mark [Campbell] was sitting on the big bleacher,” said Spatticus Harris, Campisano’s club coach for six years with San Diego Sol. “He was the only fan we had—so much love and support.”

In San Diego, Sierra chose to stay loyal to her local high school — where her mother works — instead of considering other power programs. In addition, other club programs showed interest, but Campisano chose to stick with Harris and San Diego Sol rather than travel farther from home.

“She’s always been that kind of kid,” Harris said. “There were plenty of opportunities for her to go (to other club teams).”

These days, Sierra wears green and yellow everywhere. On a recent road trip home from Arizona in August 2015, the entire family from her dad Gino to brothers Payson and Diego sported Duck gear. All the recruiting letters from Oregon decorate the piano and her bedroom. 

“I told Kelly, ‘You don’t know what you’re getting with her, because she’s so much fun and positive.’ And, when you do get her, you’re going to get her. She’ll never look another way,” her mother Cristina said.

In the years to come, Sierra and her mother won’t have to worry about access to Auzten Stadium. They’ll have all the time they want to run sprints and take pictures.

“It’s all around the perfect fit,” Campisano. “I’ve always loved the University of Oregon.”