CHRIS MOORE — Ava Wiltz’s vulnerability, awareness are admirable

Published 12:20 am Wednesday, September 21, 2022

A few years ago, coaches at Nederland High School told me to be on the lookout for then-sophomore Ava Wiltz.

As a freshman, she ran cross country and track and played varsity volleyball, softball and basketball.

It is even possible that I am missing something. It was pretty amazing to see such a young athlete have command of so many sports. In most cases, she was one of the best players on the team as soon as she stepped on the court, field or track.

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That alone was enough to be admirable. Then you add the academic element. She always stayed near the top of her class. As someone who struggled to be organized, I envy her ability to do so at such a young age.

I knew I wanted to do a story about her accomplishments. Over the past couple of years, I’ve done some smaller profiles and got to talk to her about whichever specific sport I was covering.

Last year, I went to a basketball tournament at Nederland and noticed she wasn’t there. I asked a coach where she was and was told she would be there the next day after attending a leadership conference, because of course.

This summer, I went to do a volleyball preview and Ava was out of town because she was shadowing her brother as an EMT at the legendary Red Rocks venue in Colorado, because of course.

This being her senior year, I wanted to do the bigger piece on how she handles all of the pressure and expectations and juggles all of her commitments. I’m glad I had to wait to do the story. I went in to do a story on a superhero and got very human responses, which made it real and better.

She admitted to struggling with balance in her life and all of her activities. She even said she had just recently become OK with admitting she needed a mental break. She decided to step away from some sports and allow herself to breathe.

Ava was open about seeing a counselor to help navigate some of the struggles. Athletes are typically not vulnerable. It is usually a trait that helps them in sports, but can often hurt in real life.

But there won’t be any athletes that go up against Ava who would believe she is any less of an athlete for being vulnerable, and her life will be better because of it.

Many adults don’t realize how to moderate work and home life. She is already cognitive to the fact that in order for her to be happy, she needs to find a balance between school, sports, family and friends, and whatever else she sets her mind to.

Chris Moore is the sports editor for Port Arthur Newsmedia. He can be reached at chris.moore@panews.com.