- By Jason Dougas Lewis
- In Student Athlete of the Week
Amira Heath not only excels on the tennis court and as a an equestrian horse rider, but also in the classroom where she is working towards of her goal of becoming a lawyer. Photo by Jason Lewis
Article originally published by the Los Angeles Sentinel. www.lasentinel.net
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor (2010-2013)
University High School junior Amira Heath is one of the most well rounded student/athletes around, as she competes in tennis, track and field, horseback riding, and she finds to maintain her 3.5 grade point average.
Athletically, Heath has been playing tennis since she was a young child, and she trained for a number of years at the Venus & Serena Williams Tennis Academy at Rancho Cienega Park, where she learned the fundamentals and the mental aspect of the game.
Heath has moved on to train at the Lakewood Country Club, twice a week, for two hours each session. There she has learned a lot of techniques, such as racket position, footwork, in game strategies, and she watches a lot of film to prefect her craft.
Heath plays for her high school’s tennis team, and she is also a high jumper and shot putter on the track and field team.
Academically, Heath’s favorite subjects are English and history, mainly because she wants to become a lawyer. Writing and speaking are important skills to have for that profession, so she focuses on those subjects. She has a simply reason on why she wants to be a lawyer.
“I have a mouth on me, I like to argue and be right all the time,” Heath said. “And I want to help people. Innocent people, not the bad people.”
Heath will argue about anything if she knows that she is right, and she has a simple way of defeating an opponent in a debate.
“If I know for sure that I’m right, then I only bring up things that are black and white,” Heath said. “You can’t go wrong if it’s a fact.”
Last summer Heath visited Stanford and participated in a mock trial, which was a murder case, and she won the case for her team.
Heath takes all honors classes, which means that she has to have good study habits.
“I take really good notes in class,” Heath said. “I’m kind of a visual learner, so if I take really good notes and I look over it one time, it kind of sticks in my head. Or something that I don’t really know, I’ll write it over and over again. I have good teachers too.”
Studying for 2-3 hours a day will help her achieve her goal of attending UC Berkeley, and then move on to either Stanford or USC for law school. Somehow she finds the time to horseback ride in Gardena, which she has been doing since she was young.
“Amira is one of the best students that I’ve ever taught to ride,” D’ihigi Gladney said. “She helped me break the ponies, so she’s a little cowgirl. Her love for horses is really deep, and I saw that when her horse died. I thought it was the end of the world. Watching Amira grow up from then to now at the stable, it’s amazing. She can ride almost any horse, and she gets a long with them better than just about anybody that I’ve seen.”
Heath also makes time to do community service. Along with a few friends, she started a group that collected shoes to donate after Hurricane Katrina. They also did a shoe drive at a church in Compton. She has worked at the Dream Center where she gave clothes to less fortunate people.
“It is a really humbling experience,” Heath said. “It makes me look at everything that I take for granted. Just as simple as clothes. I never thought that everyday people that look normal would have to go and get used clothes. I didn’t know how serious some people’s struggles are, verses how I came up.”
One major influence in Heath’s life is her father Archie.
“He’s always been there,” Heath said. “I’m a daddy’s girl. He basically shapes what I should look for. He treats me how I should be treated, and how I should carry myself.”
Archie Heath is extremely proud of the person that he daughter has grown up to be.
“She’s a good kid,” Archie Heath said. “She’s self motivated. From a little bitty kid her grades have been consistent, and she loves school.”
Being involved in so many different activities, and interacting with so many different people has shaped Heath into a well-rounded person. But her father points out that she knows who she is.
“Going to Marcus Garvey school from the age of three until 12 really helped her. In terms of giving her a foundation of who she is through black awareness.”
Heath knows how to represent herself well, and among people of different races. That, coupled with her hard work in school, will take her very far in the future.