Zaila Avant-garde made history on Thursday when she became the first African-American Scripps National Spelling Bee champion.
The Louisiana teen told CBS This Morning, “It felt like really good. It’s like a kind of like a dream come true because I’ve been working toward that goal for, like, two years. And so to finally have it, it’s like the best possible outcome because it couldn’t have gone any better,” Avant-garde said. The winning word was “Murraya” (a genus of tropical Asiatic and Australian trees), according to ESPN.
Avant-garde expressed how important her win is to the Black community to CBS News and that it was “sad” it took so long to have an African-American champion.
“It felt really great to be the first African-American champion because it’s nice. Just almost 100 years of no African-Americans. It’s not too surprising or anything, but it’s still kind of sad and stuff for there not to be any African-American winners. But it feels good,” Avant-garde said.
Even though the spelling bee champ has her way with words, the 14-year-old is also a talented athlete and holds three Guinness Book World Records. In this impressive video, she dribbles 6 basketballs at one time in her most recent record for, “The Most Basketballs Dribbled Simultaneously”.
Her records include:
- Most balls juggled in one minute with four basketballs
- Most dribbles in 30 seconds with four basketballs
- Most basketballs dribbled by one person simultaneously (6)
She is also one of the top eighth-grade basketball players in the country and has dreams of studying at Harvard, working for NASA, or even playing in the WNBA, per CBS.
Avant-garde’s accomplishments speak for themselves and have made everyone so P-R-O-U-D. Congrats, Zalia!