NewsCovering Louisiana


Harvey native competing in Scripps National Spelling Bee

zaila avant-garde_AP.jpeg
Posted at 9:43 PM, Jul 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-07 22:43:36-04

More than 200 young spellers will compete when the Scripps National Spelling Bee returns this week. And among them is a Louisiana native.

Zaila Avant-garde is from Harvey, and previously competed in 2019.

But the 14-year-old has more hobbies beside spelling - she is a basketball prodigy who so far has appeared in a commercial with Stephen Curry and currently holds three Guinness world records for dribbling multiple balls at the same time.

She only started spelling competitively at age 12, but she promises to bring the same fire to the bee that she shows on the basketball court. She tells the Associated Press that she typically tries to spell about 13,000 words per day, which takes around seven hours.

"We don't let it go way too overboard, of course," she says. "I've got school and basketball to do."

As for the national bee, Zaila says the experience doesn't feel real yet.

"It feels wonderful, I just feel like the whole time I'm just walking around in a dream. Even right now I don't feel like I'm completely here. It feels like a dream I don't want to wake up from."

10 spellers will compete in the final bee, which will take place Thursday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Florida. The competition kicks off at 7 p.m. Central Time on ESPN 2 and ESPN U.

For more information on the bee, click here. And read more about Zaila from The Associated Press here.

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