Avrie Blackwell turned down Ivy League schools so that she can take her talents and 4.24 grade point average to USC, where she will double major in biomedical engineering and physics. /OW photo courtesy of Jason Lewis (138282)

Avrie Blackwell’s calendar is pretty full. She is the captain of Crenshaw High School’s girl’s basketball team. She is also the captain of the school’s robotics team. She has taken nothing but AP and honors classes since the 10th grade. And she is a volunteer at her church, as well as at a local hospital.

Blackwell’s busy schedule has not prevented her from excelling at school, where she carries a 4.24 grade point average, and she has been accepted to three Ivy League universities, as well as several other colleges around the nation. She intends to be a heart surgeon when she completes her education.

A path through athletics was set for Blackwell well before she was born. She is the youngest of six, and all of her older siblings received athletic scholarships, mostly in basketball. She has one brother who currently plays in the NFL. But her father, Cory Blackwell, who played for the Seattle Supersonics as well as for teams overseas, had a different path for his youngest child.

“He never wanted me to play sports,” Blackwell said. “I wanted to be a doctor since I was a little kid, so he was always like, ‘you don’t have to play, you can stay home.’ But he was really animated about sports with my other brothers and sisters. But he never really wanted me to play.”

Blackwell’s father has run youth basketball camps for years, but she did not fall in love with the sport like her siblings did.

“I actually played soccer first, because I didn’t want to be like everybody else in my family,” Blackwell said. “And I was like a really nerdy, smart kid. So I did a lot of robotics, science, and medical stuff. I chose that I wanted to be a doctor. I was kind of the odd sheep out of my family.”

Blackwell gravitated to soccer as a young child, and she was really good at it, but she could not stay away from her family’s sport for long. When she enrolled at Crenshaw High School leading into her sophomore year, the sport kind of called out to her.

“I came to Crenshaw High School, and I didn’t know anybody,” Blackwell said. “I was just shooting outside one day, and the coach came up to me and asked me if I wanted to practice with them.”

That’s all it really took to get Blackwell involved with basketball, but she had a major learning curve.

“When I started playing basketball it was really awful,” Blackwell chucked. “I was really bad. But I practiced everyday. I had to really do a lot of work. In school, after school, going to the park, doing a lot of things to become a better basketball player. My coaches say that I’m naturally strong, but I do a lot of pushups, sit-ups, and workout at night after I do my homework, just to become a better basketball player.”

It was not long before Blackwell became one of the best players on the team, and as a senior she was named captain. This past season she averaged 17 points per game, and she would like to continue playing in college.

The list of universities that Blackwell has been accepted to include Princeton, Cornell, Columbia, Oregon, Florida, Arizona, Ohio State, and many others. But she chose to stay local and attend USC.

“I got into a lot of schools, but I chose USC because I want to be a heart surgeon, and I want to work for a organization called Mercy Worldwide,” Blackwell said. “Its headquarters is out here, and I got an internship to work for them to do research in the field that I want to do. USC is going to help me do it. And I want to play basketball at USC. The schools that I got into are very techy, and smart, and small and private. USC was the best basketball school. And I really like Southern California.”

Blackwell does extremely well in all of the classes that she takes, but science is her favorite subject. She plans to double major in biomedical engineering and physics.

“I want to design the artificial heart,” Blackwell said. “So when little kids have heart disease, I want to be able to be able to fix it, and cure other types of heart disease. Biomedical engineering is a pathway to being able to build prosthetics, and to be able to understand the technology of the human body. And I just like physics. I feel that it relates back to everything.”

Being able to excel at so many different things does not come easy, as Blackwell plans out everything.

“It’s a lot about time management,” Blackwell said. “I have a calendar that I follow religiously. If I don’t, I’ll find myself on Instagram, or doing something that I should not be doing. But I have a very strict schedule. I wake up at a specific time every morning to get work done so that I can go and play basketball before school. During school, any free break that I get I do homework. And after school I have a set time to play basketball and I have a set time to do homework. And then I do my volunteer hours four days a week.”

Blackwell even schedules her time to watch Netflix, which is on Saturday nights.

Being intelligent has helped Blackwell out a lot in sports.

“On the basketball court, it really helps me visualize,” Blackwell said. “I always relate physics to basketball. Physics is conceptual. You have to think bigger in order to see an entire general problem. It’s the same thing on the basketball court. If you have an issue, if somebody isn’t getting open on one side, you have to create something else so that it can flow. That’s how I function on the court.”

Having a strong support system at home is also extremely helpful, and that competitive environment has brought out the best in Blackwell. Even though she is the youngest, she believes that she can beat her two older sisters in basketball, and she has proclaimed herself the family champion of H-O-R-S-E, which she takes great pride in.

Whether it is athletics or academics, what ever Blackwell puts on her calendar, it is going to get done at a very high level.