Inglewood junior Tamaya Hemphill competed on the girls flag football team and was able to go to Super Bowl LVI (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

Inglewood junior Tamaya Hemphill is always willing to try new things and it has led her to many opportunities. She is a cheerleader who competes in track and field but decided to try Cross Country and girl’s flag football. Hemphill considers Cross Country to be “super fun.”

“You got to run on the sand or the grass or the street,” she said. “We ran to the Forum before, went all around our school.”

The three-mile run accustomed to Cross Country competition can be grueling for runners, Hemphill learned the importance of not giving up even as fatigue sets in. A challenge that she learned to persevere through is stopping when she was too tired.

“I had to get over that because that’s how I was not winning, I was not making the cut,” Hemphill said. “I overcame it because I kept on practicing … In practice, I stopped stopping and I just kept on going anyways.”

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To continue running, she would focus on the place that she was in and was careful not to look at other runners, she also worked to keep a steady pace.

Hemphill also learned to not let other people hold her back from the things she can accomplish in the future.

“A lot of my friends, they’re like “who does Cross Country? … you might as well do track because cross country is not even popular like that,”” Hemphill said. “I kept on doing it because I wanted to try something new.”

Hemphill was a part of the inaugural L.A. League of Champions girls flag football program. Hemphill showed off her speed as the flag football team assigned her defensive duties.

“Snatching flags was what they wanted me for,” she said.

Joining the Sentinels girls flag football team allowed her to go to Super Bowl LVI.

“That was my first Super Bowl ever,” Hemphill said. “I toured and I met some famous people, it was just so amazing.”

For Hemphill, being a student athlete is being industrious and committed to your endeavors.

“It just means hard work and determination to me,” she said. “I consider cheer, drill, all of that [as] a student athlete. You have to memorize the dances for that. It’s just hard work and perseverance.”

Hemphill’s favorite class is computer science, she finds the subject matter fascinating and enjoys the teachers of the classes.

“I just love them so much, they’re so nice. They teach you how to type,” she said. “It teaches you how to do new things like coding … coding is super cool.”

Balancing all the obligations of a student athlete requires knowing when to prioritize school work, according to Hemphill.

“If you can’t balance it, then you shouldn’t be an athlete because both of them takes hard work,” she said. “If you have practice and you know you have a project and you’re like “I’m gonna go to practice instead of doing the project,” it really doesn’t make no sense.”