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Hemphill signs to play soccer at Converse

Fortunately, she now knows her playing days are far from over.

The standout defensive player at Polk County High has signed to play soccer at Converse College, which offered her both an athletic and academic scholarship.

&dquo;I didn&squo;t want to quit after this year and not be playing anything,&dquo; says Hemphill. &dquo;I wanted to go four more years. I wanted to keep going.&dquo;

Hemphill will get that chance at a program that&squo;s going through a major rebuilding effort. Hemphill may be one of about 11 freshman on a squad that&squo;s led by coach Rob DePaul, who will be entering his second season at Converse this fall.

Hemphill says she looked at several colleges in the region, sending a highlight tape, produced by Polk County High Director of Athletics Jeff Wilson, to Wofford, Converse, Liberty and USC Upstate.

Although she received a scholarship to play golf at Montreat College, she says she preferred to play soccer and liked what she saw at Converse during a visit.

&dquo;I went down there and I liked how it felt small and I just liked that atmosphere,&dquo; says Hemphill.

She adds that she may even get a chance to play golf at Converse. While the Spartanburg college lacks a golf program now, it is planning to start one in the next couple years, she says.

Hemphill, who expects to play in the center back position at Converse, has been a starter for the Lady Wolverines since she joined the varsity squad as a freshman. She attributes much of her progress in the sport to Polk County head soccer coach Lennox &dquo;Rock&dquo; Charles and assistant coach Will Pack, and to her experience playing club soccer for the Highlands Football Club.

Coach Charles says Hemphill developed strong fundamental skills playing club soccer and she brought those skills, along with great speed and athletic ability, to the Lady Wolverines.

&dquo;I saw her play club soccer in eighth grade, and could see she would have an opportunity come in and play right away, and she did,&dquo; says Charles.

He says he&squo;s always pleased to see Polk players move to the next level. Those players show younger Polk players what they can achieve, and draw more attention to the Polk County soccer program, he says.

Charles says he believes Hemphill will be ready to contribute immediately at Converse, and her success there may send more college coaches to Polk County looking for players.

&dquo;I think she&squo;s going to do well. I would be surprised if she&squo;s not competing for a starting spot,&dquo; says Charles.