She was already a phenomenal little woman, phenomenally! Zaila Avant-Garde was a three-time Guinness World Records holder, before she took the stage at the Scripps National Spelling Bee Thursday July 8. The 8th grade wonder hold the records for dribbling multiple basketballs simultaneously: Most balls juggled in one minute with four basketball, most dribbles in 30 seconds with four basketballs, and most basketballs dribbled by one person simultaneously. So there. Oh, now she's the very first African American in the Scripps Spelling Bee history to win the competition.

The first Black person to win the Scripps Bee was 12-year, Jody-Anne Maxwell from Jamaica in 1998. The Harvey, La. teen won on the word Murraya. Watch her exciting moment below!

Job well done to Zaila's coach is Cole Shafer-Ray as well. He is a 20-year-old Yale student and former Scripps Bee contender. Ray was the 2015 Scripps runner-up, and said of his amazing student, “Usually to be as good as Zaila, you have to be well-connected in the spelling community. You have to have been doing it for many years.”

“It was like a mystery, like, ‘Is this person even real?’”

“She really just had a much different approach than any speller I’ve ever seen. She basically knew the definition of every word that we did, like pretty much verbatim,” he said. “She knew, not just the word but the story behind the word, why every letter had to be that letter and couldn’t be anything else.”

Zaila and her coach practiced 7 hours a day to prepare for the bee. An it sure paid off! We are so very proud of you Zaila! Congratulations once again.

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