Ava Grill Dubois freely admits her athletic prowess was, well, somewhat lacking when she arrived at the High School of American Studies for her freshman year.
“I wasn’t a very good athlete because I had never played sports before,” she said.
Grill Dubois then used her four years at American Studies to not only play but excel at basketball, softball and even bowling. So much so that when the school held its annual sports banquet at the end of the school year, there were both speeches by and about Grill Dubois that highlighted the night.
“Our sports banquet was one of my favorite times in school,” Grill Dubois said. “They give out awards to players on each team, and this year sticks out for me because I also got to make a speech about my experience on (American Studies) sports teams. That was really special for me to go up there and speak about how much HSAS athletics changed my life, because they really had.”
But Grill Dubois wasn’t quite prepared for what the school’s athletic director, Steve Schulman, would say about her.
“He gave a speech about each person that won an award, and his speech about me was just so amazing,” Grill Dubois said, laughing. “The whole time he talked about how horrible I was in the beginning, but how I stuck with it and how I got better at it. It just made me really think back on the past four years and how hard I worked for it.”
Grill Dubois also heard her name called for one award in particular: Most improved player in basketball.
“That’s probably why (Schulman) was talking about how horrible I was,” she said. “He was very funny because he kept insulting me. But he’s a really, really good coach and teacher, and I just loved his speech. That’s one of my favorite memories from school.”
Grill Dubois was the point guard on a Senators team that posted a combined 36-10 regular-season record the past three seasons, advancing to the second round of the Public School Athletic League playoffs each year.
Softball was even more of a joy ride this past season for Grill Dubois as the third baseman helped lead the Senators to the Bronx A-1 Division title, ending Kennedy’s three-year reign. That helped spearhead the Senators’ deepest playoff run ever as they reached the PSAL quarterfinals.
But after all that success, Grill Dubois said, it was time to move on.
“Four years is definitely enough time for high school,” she said. “But I do miss seeing the people every day. I feel like I made a family there, and now it feels like that is over and it will never be like that again.”
But Grill Dubois is eager to begin the next chapter in her life when she heads upstate to SUNY Geneseo in late August.
“I’m really excited about that, but I know it gets cold up there,” Grill Dubois said. “It does get a little warm in the summer, like in the 80s. But it still feels like their 80 is colder somehow.”
And Grill Dubois is not exactly easing into college life.
“I’m planning on majoring in education and physics because I want to be a physics teacher,” she said. “I always knew I wanted to teach — ever since sixth grade — but I didn’t know what I wanted to teach until I took physics in my junior year and I just loved it so much.”
But she says she will find time to fit some sports into her heavy workload, even if it’s not on a formal team.
“I may want to play club sports because that way I can play both softball and basketball,” Grill Dubois said.
But while she looks forward to big changes in her life, it doesn’t come without some trepidation.
“I’m looking forward to making new friends, but I’m also very nervous about it,” Grill Dubois said. “I’m really excited because it’s going to be a whole different experience from high school, and I’ll be away from home and experiencing new things. But I know not seeing my family every day may be a difficult adjustment. They helped me with everything and made this all possible.”
Until the move to Geneseo, Grill Dubois says she’ll continue working at the family business, Click Model Management in Manhattan. Although it may not be as glamorous as it sounds.
“I’m just doing filing and inputing things into the computer and stuff like that” Grill Dubois said.
So no modeling?
“No,” she said, laughing. “Not for me.”