Louisiana Spelling Champion

Jesse Coates, Contributor
Timothy Holdiness, Contributor

Zaila Avant-garde made history for Louisiana and the country after winning the Scripps National Spelling Bee, becoming the first African American competitor in it’s long history to be victorious.

Following the incredible win, Avant-garde became an instant Louisiana treasure, and is deserving of major recognition for helping to prove that our state is home to great people.

Ms. Zaila truly earned her place amongst the prodigies of her generation. She was routinely spelling 13,000 words for 7 hours a day for a few years, a mix of practice and fun for the spelling champ from Harvey, Louisiana.

At first, it became a hobby watching the Scripps spelling competition with her father, soon finding her affinity for complex mathematics and how well it translated into her spelling.

When she began working with a 20 yr old private coach from Yale, Cole Shafer-Ray, they all realized just how extraordinarily intelligent she was.

Her memorization and deduction skills flourished , not only being able to spell the word but also define it, tell you its full origin, and applied the “find out what it isn’t” method to deduce the specific word to its precise spelling.

This is no surprise as Avant-garde already holds three Guinness World Records, specifically in basketball.

Everything she is capable of is deeply deserving of envy, yet she’s humbled even after being rocketed into the national spotlight.

The most bounces of four basketballs in 30 seconds (307) — set in New Orleans on Nov. 14, 2019

The most basketballs dribbled at one time (six) — set in Westwego, Louisiana, on Jan. 26, 2021 (equalling Joseph Odhiambo’s August 2000 record)

The most bounce juggles in one minute, using four basketballs (255) — set in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Nov. 2, 2020

Snopes https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/zaila-basketball-guinness-record/

A lot of journals have been highlighting what an inspiration Avant-garde is to young African American girls all over the nation.

Avant-garde also became the first to win the national spelling bee attended by kids from different parts of the world, which also took place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

That in itself is very impressive, but I believe it’s more accurate to say she inspires all of us. Never squander the strengths you possess. Utilize them in every conceivable way.

Zaila Avant-garde inspires those who relish the challenge of taking on many skill sets and keeps her heart and mind open in her aspirations.

As reported in The Advocate, Avant-garde hopes to attend Harvard to play college basketball while exploring the many options in her occupational pursuits.

Whether it’s working for NASA, utilizing her college ball experience to coach for the NBA, or a science major specializing in gene editing or Neuroscience, she holds the determination to succeed in whatever dream she’s chasing.

Fortunately for her, a full scholarship will pave her way to whatever path she chooses.


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