"A dazzling dribbler, a spectacular speller and a scintillating scholar," that is how Sport Illustrated Kids describes Louisiana native Zaila Avant-garde.
After winning 2021 Scripp's National Spelling Bee in July, Avant-garde has grabbed another award. On Wednesday, Avant-garde was named 2021 SportsKid of the Year
Among her other accomplishments, the ninth grader holds world records for dribbling (three being Guinness World Records) and is an elite-level basketball player. Avant-garde says she plays the sport not to just rack up points, but to demonstrate the expression of it.
"Basketball, at least for me, is not played just to score or something like that,” Avant-garde tells Sports Illustrated Kids. “Of course you want to score in a basketball game, but you also want to do art. And my four-ball dribbling and five-ball dribbling is art.”
Avant-garde has displayed her many talents and made history as being the first African-American to win the national spelling. And she has gained the attention, once again, of the Louisiana governor.
"Whether she's dribbling on the court, winning the national spelling bee, or encouraging fellow Louisianas to get the COVID vaccine, Zalia Avant-garde makes Louisiana proud. Congratulations on being the Sports Illustrates SportsKid of the Year," says John Bel Edwards on Twitter.
Whether she’s dribbling on the court, winning the national spelling bee, or encouraging fellow Louisianans to get the COVID vaccine, Zaila Avant-garde makes Louisiana proud. Congratulations on being the Sports Illustrated SportsKid of the Year, @Basketballasart! #lagov https://t.co/jaIKhKTPmY— John Bel Edwards (@LouisianaGov) November 24, 2021
Now looking towards the future, Avant-garde tells Sports Illustrated Kids of what other places she sees herself going.
After visiting the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Tx and meeting with astronauts, NASA is one of the many places Avant-garde sees herself working. "I'd like to figure out how to help humans and other animals, of course, go and kind of do the Star Wars thing , without all the monsters and Dark Vader. Help settle other planets, doing lunar habitats and stuff. I really feel like we are all animals on Earth. It's an expanding species, so I feel like the natural, next place to expand to is off of Earth."
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