By Jariah Nash

Staff Writer

Pictured above: Hammond junior Safi Hampton

Over the last 2 years, let’s be honest, we have all heard a thing or two about Safi Hampton. But how much do we really know?

By now, many have heard that she is committed to play Division 1 volleyball. As a junior, she accepted an offer from The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. A lot of students had questions about Hampton and how she committed. Why Chapel Hill? How did she do it as a junior in high school? Hampton gave us the opportunity to talk to her about her love for volleyball and her future with the sport.  

During Hampton’s club season, she had colleges coming to look at her from all over. 

“They weren’t allowed to say anything to any players they were looking at. They would just watch you play, and if they liked you, they would show interest. This involved getting your phone number and contact information,” said Hampton.

Along with Chapel Hill, she visited colleges like The University of Maryland and Texas A&M. Chapel Hill was the first college to email her, and she was really excited. 

“I waited, watching the time and counting down the seconds.”

Chapel Hill has been the school she has wanted to attend since she was twelve years old. Her mom went there for medical school and her Aunt went for law school. On top of her family members being alumni, the coach for Chapel Hill has had an eye on her since she was thirteen years old, so there was an even greater chance of her attending the school.

Hampton’s family was definitely a big factor in her decision to attend Chapel Hill. Her father attended Duke University which played a huge role in her choosing UNC. She said her father helped to keep her motivated in deciding to play volleyball and to continue pursuing it in college. Safi’s father passed away in 2019.

“All the jewelry I wear is his. I never take it off unless I am on the court.” 

She also says her motivation is found within herself because she is competitive by nature. She is always hard on herself, puts in extra work, gets better every chance she gets, and does not need anyone to motivate her. 

Hampton felt as though the environment at Chapel Hill was very relationship-oriented. It wasn’t too far from home, and the school is academically excellent. She also loved how the volleyball players have a healthy balance between academics and athletics as well. 

When joining the Hammond volleyball program, Hampton saw that it was a very welcoming team, and she knew that she could perform at her greatest potential. 

Her teammates and her coach, Coach Corey, were happy to share the experiences they’ve had on and off the court with Hampton. 

“She’s genuinely one of the most hardworking people I know. Just being around the skill that she has worked so hard for makes you want to be better,” teammate Hannah Chambers said. 

When asking Chambers how she felt about Safi going Division 1, she had nothing but good things to say. 

“Even before I met her, there was so much talk about how good she was at volleyball, and how smart she is. Even if she didn’t play volleyball, I would assume her academics and other talents would take her far considering how hard she works.” 

Another teammate, Mikaela Meer had a few words to say about Safi. “Even though this is my first year playing volleyball with Hampton, I love how every time I am around Safi, there is always positive energy. You see how competitive she is on and off the court, both in athletics, and in her academics.”

Erin Peters, another player on the Varsity team, said, “I am extremely proud of her for playing D1 in college. I’ve watched her grow as a player and she has gotten so much better in a short period of time. It is also great to have her on the team because she inspires the players to strive to work hard. She keeps our hopes high for our potential, as her standards are set at a high level at all times.”

The Bear Press got the opportunity to interview Hammond’s volleyball coach, Coach Corey, to gather a few more words about Hampton and her skills. 

“Safi is a force to be reckoned with on the court. Her athletic presence is noticeable from the second she enters the gym. She remains cool, calm, and confident throughout gameplay.”

Coach Corey also says, “Since Safi has joined Hammond’s varsity team, she has been the main contributor on our offensensive side. Her aggressive attacks have been unstoppable by many teams, along with her height and athleticism allowing her to be a defensive threat at the net.” 

As you can see, she is more than just a Division 1 athlete. She is a supportive, energetic, and intelligent independent young woman. Hammond – If you see her in the hallways, do not just call her by her number. Call her the name she was proudly given, because now it’s known. It is Safi Hampton. Go Heels!