From the court to the classroom, Will Rogers College High School’s Avery Hill leads by example.
“He’s a prime example of what hard work really does for kids,” Athletic Director Krystal Markwardt said.
While at Walt Whitman Elementary School, Avery spent every waking moment dreaming of being on the basketball court.
“Always had a ball, always had a goal, always was shooting outside,” Avery said.
He started Will Rogers in middle school, stunned by the size of the school.
“This place is big. I’m used to one-floor schools, come here and you got four floors, there are classes on different floors. Just a different vibe,” he said.
Avery struggled with the change at first, but he embraced the challenge.
“It made me work harder. It made me want it more,” he said.
Avery quickly learned that the Will Rogers community was a family where no one was left out.
“No one is really a loner. There’s always going to be somebody who will come talk to you,” he said.
As Avery focused on the court he also focused in the classroom. He took challenging courses like AP physics and still earned earning As and Bs.
“I got to shout out my guy Logan on that one. Logan helped me get through that class a lot,” he said.
It was because of that experience that Avery learned his friends wouldn’t let him fail.
“It meant a lot to me. Without Logan, I don’t even know if I’d pass that class. I probably would have been ineligible during the basketball season without him,” he said.
During his junior year, Will Rogers athletes were pushed to become two-sport athletes, so Avery chose to run track.
“First day there workouts were tough. You got to run so many 400s, so many 300s, so many 200s, and you're out of shape from basketball - basketball shape is different from track shape,” Avery said.
His event was the 300 hurdles, but it didn't start off on such a positive note.
“My first time running hurdles, I’m not going to lie to you, I fell and busted myself. I didn’t know if I wanted to keep doing it...falling is embarrassing,” Avery said.
But his athletic director, Krystal Markwardt, wouldn’t let him give up.
“She was just like, 'If you quit now then you are going to think that you can quit in a lot of stuff.' She didn’t want me to quit at all. She wanted me to stick through it,” Avery said.
Avery's peers also stood by his side and helped him persevere.
"People that ran track were like, ‘I fell before. There are people that are still falling in meets to this day that have done hurdles for years.’ So, I was like, ‘I might as well give it another try,' and I haven't fallen since that first one,” he said.
Standing tall on the track field gave Avery even more motivation to rise to the occasion on the court.
“You’ll never know what you like until you try it. I advise everybody to try and get out of their comfortable circle and go do something different,” he said.
"He works hard every day in class," Coach David Winton said. "He understands the offensive and defensive concepts. As far as winning ball games, he probably has more wins than anybody else on the team.”
Winton made Avery captain of the Ropers. He said Avery sets an example they want all students to live up to.
“He is a very successful student because he understands the importance of education. I think he has an idea of what he wants to do in the future. I think he has a work ethic, again, because he is a pretty smart kid and he has an idea of what it takes to be successful," Winton said. "Avery is one of those kids that we just don’t worry about. Whatever he decides to do he is probably going to be successful at.”
Avery's plan is to go to Oklahoma State University.
“I still want to do something with the sport. I got a love for the sport like that, but I want to be a personal trainer or something with sports medicine,” he said.
But Avery doesn't just want a job, he wants to innovate the industry.
“Learning how to wrap people or, you know, the HEX pass to protect people. Learning how to come up with my own designs or something like that,” he said.
Avery is the youngest of four and said he gets his work ethic from his sister’s example.
“She’s the hardest worker I know so I try to strive to be like her when I get older,” he said.
Looking back on his time at Will Rogers, Avery is thankful for the relationships he made with his teachers.
“You always need somebody you can go and talk to when you don’t have anyone else,” he said.
Avery encourages future Ropers to stay focused on their school work. He said it's your education that will make you successful for years to come.
“Stay on top of your grades, it's the most important thing you can do if you're a student-athlete," he said. "My education is everything. If I don't have an education I can't do anything else."