New Canaan Country School varsity soccer player Ava Gizzie attributes much of her success to a surprisingly non-athletic personal skill: time management.
“I consider myself to be a fairly laid back person, I roll with the punches,” said Ava, a soft-spoken eighth grader. “But the most important thing to me is making it all work, and for that, I need to be really, really good at keeping commitments, being prepared for whatever is next, and then focusing completely on whatever I am doing in that moment. It’s hard, but it’s totally worthwhile.”
Ava credits the ability to balance competing priorities to be a key strength both on and off the field. In addition to playing varsity soccer at New Canaan Country School, Ava is also a member of the U15 Elite Clubs National League team for Connecticut Football Club, a premier travel soccer club that has her regularly playing games throughout the Northeast. She also kick-boxes for personal enjoyment and physical fitness, and enjoys sewing. During winter, she plays paddle tennis on the school’s co-ed team and runs cross-country on the varsity squad in the spring.
During her 11 years as a student at the school, she has enjoyed trying a variety of different sports, including basketball and softball, but soccer has remained a constant.
“I started playing soccer at NCCS in fifth grade,” says Ava. “It has been my comfort zone ever since.”
“I have known Ava since first grade,” says Country School girls’ varsity soccer coach Sean Robb who also teaches Spanish in the school’s lower grades. “She is remarkable in that she’s a very well-rounded and balanced person who brings incredible focus to everything she does; soccer, academics, her other sports, her personal relationships. She manages to be talented and creative in all of her activities while always remaining humble and curious. I also see her balance a dedicated work ethic with a sense of joy and fun. She is even-keeled across the board; as a person, as a student and as an athlete.”
The varsity soccer team, which clinched an undefeated season in 2017, saw its fair share of nail biters en route to its final 8-0-1 record.
“Ava was so consistent; a steadying influence for the team in some very stressful situations last year,” says Coach Robb. “Our last game [of the season] was played in a 38-degree downpour against our toughest opponent. But Ava just went to work, setting up play after play, helping us grind out the win, including scoring the winning goal with only 15 minutes left on the clock.”
The 2017 season found the team netting 25 goals versus only 7 allowed. In the current, 2018 season, the team is 3-0-2 with hopes of repeating last year’s success.
“Ava is a strong component of an already strong team. She plays both sides of the ball really well. She is as comfortable driving the action to goal as she is playing defense,” says Coach Robb. “In her position as a withdrawn forward, she does a great job of moving the ball around the field and creating plays, evidenced by the fact that she leads the team in goals and assists this season. She is a strategic, cerebral player and good about ‘reading’ the game and predicting what will happen next. She sets the tone in both practices and games with her relentless work ethic and desire to improve, a great example for teammates.”
Ava, the daughter of Marnie and Jon Gizzie of New Canaan, prefers to lead by example come game-time.
“I’m not usually the one to speak up in the huddle,” says Ava. “I tend to see what everyone else thinks is going on [in the game] and then if I disagree or have something I want to add, I’ll do so. I might try to share my perspective. Mostly, though, I just get it done. My goal for myself is to work on movement and skills. My goal for my team is to make sure that everyone is improving and working well together.”
“Ava is steady and talented. She’ll subtly pull a player aside and give them a tip about how to improve a skill or how to move more effectively. A true team-player, she makes everyone around her better,” says Coach Robb.