Before most of her peers are even out of bed, Ariana Izquierdo is already warming up on the basketball court. Practice starts bright and early — 7 am for the Maspeth High School senior.
"It's a blessing and a curse!" Izquierdo said. "Because waking up at the crack of dawn was a struggle.
But then once we were here, we were energized and ready to go, because we all love the sport."
Izquierdo has played since she was five years old. She has been on the varsity team since her freshman year and says the sport has given her a whole new skillset to bring to her studies.
"It's just something that I feel has helped me improve not only my confidence, my organization, and time management," Izquierdo said. "But it's just something that has helped shape who I am, as corny as that sounds!"
Izquierdo's teammates chose her as team captain her senior year, a position her coach says she's taken on naturally.
"She is so positive. And it's refreshing because it makes my job so much easier," said Dalia Avivi, Maspeth High School's girls' varsity basketball coach. "One of the biggest things as a coach is you have to constantly encourage the kids."
"Ariana is just a second voice in the gym to just have fun," Avivi continued. "To push to the max as much as you possibly can, and to just be positive all the time."
Izquierdo brings that same energy into every club, team, and class she has joined. She serves as class president, plans service projects with the National Honor Society, and manages the boys' lacrosse team. She does all of this while maintaining a 100 GPA. Izquierdo is expected to graduate at the top of her class.
"She's dedicated, she's inquisitive, she's hard-working. It's everything. I know that term 'model-student' gets thrown around a lot, but she is really what it is," said Nicholas Scales, a government and economics teacher. "To top it all off, she's one of the nicest people that I know, too."
Izquierdo hopes to become a nurse one day and is determined to show her younger siblings what can come of hard work despite a busy schedule.
"I feel proud graduating at the top of my class," said Izquierdo. "But I feel even prouder knowing that I set a good example for my little sisters and for anyone else who feels like they're struggling."
For being a role model, both on and off the court, Ariana Izquierdo is our Scholar Athlete of the Week.
The Spectrum News NY1 Scholar Athlete Program recognizes exceptional public high school student athletes with academic scholarship awards of $1,000 each for use towards college expenses. Nominees must be high school seniors enrolled at public high schools within the five boroughs of New York City in order to be considered.
If you are a public school coach, teacher, administrator or school counselor who would like to nominate a student athlete who excels both in the classroom and on the court, click here to fill out a nomination form.