Zaila Avant-garde, the 14-year-old winner of the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee, is also a standout basketball player in her native Louisiana with three Guinness world records to her name.
Zaila Avant-garde @Basketballasart
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/8thgrader?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#8thgrader</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Middleschooler?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Middleschooler</a> Zaila Avant-garde, ⚡️💨. <a href="https://t.co/fyjKQI4rME">pic.twitter.com/fyjKQI4rME</a>
Avant-garde, who became the first African American winner of the Bee on Thursday night, owns the world records in relation to dribbling basketballs.
She capped off her victory Thursday by correctly spelling the word "Murraya," and said afterward she's happy to end her spelling career on a high note, though she described it more as a "side hobby," according to Ben Nuckols of the Associated Press.
"I kind of thought I would never be into spelling again, but I’m also happy that I’m going to make a clean break from it," Avant-garde said. "I can go out, like my Guinness world records, just leave it right there, and walk off."
She's hopeful of a future in basketball, potentially as a WNBA player or NBA coach, per Nuckols.
Thursday marked the return of the Scripps National Spelling Bee for its 93rd edition after last year's event was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bee featured a new format after the 2019 competition ended in an eight-way tie, with a definition round and a potential lightning-round spell-off, but the latter wasn't needed as the 11-finalist field was rather quickly reduced to one.
Avant-garde's championship earned her over $50,000 in cash and prizes.