NEWMAN INTERNATIONAL ACADEMY'S BIANCA CLEMONS
Bianca Clemons is a rising senior at Newman International Academy in Cedar Hill, Texas, where she excels in two different sports, makes good grades in the classroom, and is active within her community.
“I volunteer with NACCP,” Clemons said. “I was also active around the community when the pandemic first struck. Some of the things that I did was hand out masks and food to people in need.”
NIA girls basketball coach Astacia Jones has had a front row seat to see Clemons grow as a person, player, and leader during her high school career. Jones raved about Clemons’ character and the person that she is.
“She is a holistic individual,” Coach Jones said. “She is definitely a leader and is representative of good character on and off the court. It shows in basketball, in school, and everything that she is doing. Her discipline is consistent in the classroom and her leadership is consistent on the court.”
In addition to her involvement in the community and her strong character and leadership skills, Clemons is hard-working in the classroom, where she made impressive grades during her junior year. She explained that she met some of her goals that she set for herself and even received some recognition.
“I made all A’s last year,” Clemons said. “And I recently received an opportunity to join the National Honor Society.”
Performing well in the classroom is a strong point of emphasis for Clemons, and she certainly lives up to it. Clemons also excels in two different sports for the Warriors, running the 400-meter and relay events for the track team and earning first-team All-District honors in basketball.
“I play every position for the basketball team, but my primary position is forward,” Clemons said. “My favorite things to do on the basketball court is defend and to drive to the basket.”
Coach Jones explained that Clemons has been among the top scorers and stealers in the district and that her hard work has paid off on the court.
“Bianca is the first person on the court for practice and is the last person to leave,” Jones said. “She has been nominated for first-team All-District for the past two years and has been one of my team captains in both of the last two seasons.”
Basketball has presented different opportunities for Clemons to visit different states and see college campuses as her high school career nears a conclusion. Clemons noted that Baylor is a school that she has interest in if she decided to stay in state, but there is one school that has caught her eye if she opts to leave the Lone Star State.
“I went out to Arizona two years ago for a basketball tournament,” Clemons said. “And we got to visit the Arizona State campus. It definitely caught my interest and is one of the schools that I am looking at.”
Growing up around sports and participating in basketball and track, Clemons explained that she wants to work in the sports field for her career. She plans on pursuing a career as a sports medicine physician after graduating from wherever she ultimately decides to attend college.
Coach Jones firmly believes that Clemons has a bright future in whatever she pursues thanks to her mindset regarding adversity.
“Bianca embraces obstacles and adversity,” Coach Jones said. “I have had the privilege to watch her develop and grow into a person that embraces the challenge and that will make her successful in whatever she does.”
KERMIT'S ZANIEL FLORES
Kermit senior Zaniel Flores is an all-district safety for the football team, a state-qualifying powerlifter, a tennis player, a runner on the track team, and the No. 4 ranked student in his class. Whatever Flores puts his mind to, he finds a way to accomplish it.
“Time management and just being disciplined is key,” Flores said. “It is very easy to just say ‘I will do it in 10 minutes,’ but then 10 minutes go by and you don’t do it. I took that philosophy from powerlifting. If you do not do it then, you won’t ever do it.”
Flores excels in athletics, as he led the Yellow Jackets’ defense and qualified for state in powerlifting. Flores was ranked No. 6 in the state in powerlifting before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the season. He is always in the gym and improving his body for the sport he is playing — be it football, track, tennis, or powerlifting.
“The coaches keep the gym open until around 8 at night for him to lift and do his workouts,” Kermit football coach Bubba Ross said. “He comes to work out after his powerlifting or football practice to train for tennis.”
Flores said football is his No. 1 love because of all of the things it teaches you that can be applied to other areas of life. He powerlifts to improve his strength and runs track to improve his speed, but football is where is heart is.
“I love football because there are no external problems. It is just you and your team doing what you are taught,” Flores said. “No matter what else is going on in your life, football is always there for you.”
Flores juggles being a four-sport athlete for the Yellow Jackets while also taking college-level classes in kinesiology and media literacy. The senior is heavily focused on performing well in the classroom, and it has paid dividends.
“I am in the National Honor Society and am on track to graduate with my associate degree,” Flores said. “By next year in college, I should only be taking two classes per semester because I have already taken my core courses.”
Ross could not speak more glowingly about Flores, explaining that the senior is a true leader around the school and leaves an impression on everyone he encounters.
“Everybody in the community knows and likes Zaniel,” Ross said. “He always has a smile on his face in everything he does. He is the definition of a leader – vocally and by example.”
But Flores has had to overcome struggles with a stutter — instead of that to get in his way or preventing him from doing what he loves, Flores has embraced it and has found somebody to look up to. Former NFL running back and Super Bowl champion Darren Sproles is a big inspiration to Flores, and he even received the opportunity to attend Camp Dream. Speak. Live., a camp in which Sproles is involved with.
“He stutters and he is small, but that could not ever stop him,” Flores said. “My mom’s co-worker showed me a cover of a book and it said that stuttering doesn’t keep him down. So, from then on, I tried to learn about him more and catch his games on television. Two years ago, I saw a link on his account to go to the Dream. Speak. Live. camp. I clicked on it and applied and got into it.”
Determination and work ethic have opened many doors for the upcoming senior. Flores said that he wants to pursue a career as a speech pathologist for his profession once he finishes school.
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