Champion athlete sets high goals for her future
Akuadasuo Ezenyilimba’s name, to a good many of us not familiar with tribal languages of West Africa, looks like a bunch of random letters just after they were dumped from a Scrabble bag.
The English translation of the Paa-Ko Ridge resident’s first name, which comes from her father’s native Igbo tongue of southeastern Nigeria, can help provide some insight into her background.
“It means ‘Treasure bestowed from God,’” said her mother, Kelley Ezenyilimba, who noted the Igbo people are mostly Christian.
Jim Ciccarello, La Cueva High’s girls track and field coach, certainly feels like he’s been blessed to have the services of the 5-foot-10 Akuadasuo Ezenyilimba.
“The hardest thing I’ve had to do was to learn how to pronounce and spell her name,” Ciccarello said with a chuckle. “Now, that was hard.”
Akuadasuo sounds something akin to “Ah-qua-duh-sue-o.”
Ezenyilimba, 17, helped La Cueva earn yet another Class 5A team title at the University of New Mexico’s track this past weekend. She was crowned as the individual state champion in the discus with a throw of 126-11, and she took fifth in the shot put with a heave of 35-3 1/4.
The discus victory was her first first at state.
“I was happy to get a gold medal. I was happy to be able to help my team,” Ezenyilimba said. “We worked more on form this year and getting prepared for state. I slowed my (spin) speed down just to allow me to get more control, try to control when I release the disc to keep it inbounds.”
Ezenyilimba graduated on May 13.
“She’s very quiet. Sometimes, it’s hard to hear her,” Ciccarello said. “But she’s very smart, very intelligent, and she’s very coachable. And she’s very athletic.”
Ezenyilimba, a member of her school’s DECA, National English Honor Society and National French Honor Society groups and a co-founder of its Black Student Union, had a 3.44 grade-point average. She will participate in the Great Southwest Track and Field Classic at UNM on June 6-8.
“Then, I’m going to New Mexico State,” she said. “I want to study biology and pre-med. I want to be an OB/GYN and specialize in childbirth.”
Ezenyilimba is also expected to throw for the NMSU women’s track and field program. Her mother said they are still negotiating the extent of the athletic/academic scholarship her daughter will receive from the Aggies.
Akuadasuo’s father, Matthew Ezenyilimba, got a bachelor’s and master’s degree in chemistry from Kent State. He now works for the Cabot Corp. in Albuquerque as a chemist.
“That’s why Akuadasuo went to La Cueva,” said her mother, who originally is from Akron, Ohio. “It was easier for her father to pick her up from school and take her to after-school activities.”
Akuadasuo’s siblings have exhibited some promise. Akunnaya, a La Cueva senior-to-be, is a thrower, too; Frederick, an Eisenhower Middle School student, does youth track and basketball and was an East Mountain Little League All-Star; and 6-year-old Gloria attends Double Eagle Elementary and trains with Albuquerque Track Club.
“I was happy I went to La Cueva,” Akuadasuo said. “I’ve made some great friends there. And it was there I got to know about track.”
Harold Smith can be reached at 823-7104 or by email at email@example.com.