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Coral Academy’s Zia Makhathini makes the grade on soccer field

Zia Makhathini’s precocious interest in academia helped her become one of the top students at Coral Academy, while her precocious interest in soccer helped her become one of the top forwards in the Las Vegas Valley.

Now, the senior is academically accomplished enough to attend Yale.

And talented enough to play soccer there, too.

Makhathini has committed to applying to the Ivy League institution with recommendation from the coaching staff and will secure a spot on the women’s soccer team upon acceptance — fulfilling her academic and athletic goals.

All at the same time.

The 5-foot-8-inch forward is one of the area’s top players, but bypassed the opportunity to play high school soccer to focus on a rigorous workload at Coral, the high-academic charter school in Henderson that she has attended since fourth grade in accordance with her internal scholastic goals.

She is set to graduate near the top of her high school class and is considering the pursuit of a journalism degree at Yale.

“That type of school wasn’t necessarily on my radar at the beginning of the recruiting process,” Makhathini said. “I started to narrow down my list, realizing that academics is a main priority. … Yale specifically turned out to be the perfect fit.”

Makhathini started showcasing her brilliance to her family as a toddler and displayed a particular passion for literature well before elementary school.

Her mother, Kristen, said her daughter loved to read and is still a voracious reader with a keen eye for fantasy fiction like the Harry Potter series. The love for learning trickled across the other standard school subjects, and she excelled in Clark County public schools through fourth grade

But gaudy class sizes and overwhelmed teachers essentially turned Makhathini from a student to a tutor, and her parents considered alternative educational options before deciding on Coral.

“It was the best decision we could have made,” Kristen Makhathini said. “She’s surrounded with other high achieving kids, and they’ve all grown up together and pushed each other.”

Makhathini blossomed in concurrence with her academic growth into a stellar left-footed forward with her local club team, Heat FC, under the direction of several top coaches.

Her recruitment flourished during her freshman season, and she decided on Yale in the spring of 2017.

“She’s just an extremely intelligent kid, and she’s super humble,” Heat FC coach Tom Amick said. “She could have even gotten into Yale without soccer. The fact that she gets to go to an Ivy League school and play soccer is a really cool opportunity for her.”

Makhathini is taking five advanced placement courses this year to earn college credits and has no desire to turn into the cliche senior slacker.

“We’ve supported her, but we haven’t had to push her with anything regarding academics,” Kristen Makhathini said. “She just does it.”

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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