Every year there’s a hero from the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and every year they are wonderful, wonderful kids, smarter than any of us, destined to dominate their chosen fields to be America’s future leaders. Note that excessive praise is missing one keyword: “awesome.” It’s hard to say the winner of the spell bee is clearly cool, but that’s all changed now.
On Thursday night, 14-year-old Zalia Avant-Garde of Louisiana took the prize by spelling the word “mirrors,” while gazing at the bee by juggling it and pointing at Bill Murray.
“Does this word contain like the English word Murray, which would be the name of the comedian?”
In winning the competition, Avant-garde became the first black American student to capture the Scripps National Spelling Bee, prompting the world to learn more about it—and when we did, it was incredible.
The 14-year-old might be a better basketball player. She holds three Guinness World Records for trick dribbling, appeared in a Stephen Curry commercial in 2018, and has a Twitter account filled with his basketball exploits.
Oh, she can also dribble several basketballs while riding a unicycle and has future plans that include becoming an NBA coach, being a NASA astronaut, an immunologist, or perhaps even a scientist studying gene therapy. When you’re doing well in life, it’s good to have choices.
And as if all this weren’t enough, there’s her family name “Avant-garde”, which wasn’t her birth name, Instead, her father changed her after being inspired by John Coltrane. It’s the perfect kick to a great life that started just 14 years ago and is set to impact the world for years to come in whatever field you choose.
Congratulations to Zalia Avant-garde, who’s already cooler than I’ll ever be, has records I’ll never set, and the life dedicated to her is more impressive than anyone I know. I selfishly hope you stick with basketball, only because I want to follow it for the next decade.