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John Marshall’s Zara Zervos Wins Doug Huff Award

Honor Recognizes Athlete With Great Leadership, Hustle and Determination

Photo by Cody Tomer John Marshall’s Zara Zervos battled Vocal Cord Dysfunction and still managed to earn first team all-state in two fall sports during her senior year.

MOUNDSVILLE –When Zara Zervos was a young girl, her parents told her to be herself and not try to be anyone else.

Those words have guided the John Marshall High School senior competitor throughout her entire life and especially during her senior year, which has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and her trial with Vocal Cord Dysfunction.

Through it all, she has still managed to run cross country, play soccer, swim and plans to run track this spring. Thus far, she has earned first team all-state honors in both cross country and soccer and is primed to be a top contender in both swimming and track, as well.

Her leadership, hustle and determination has paid off as she has been selected as the winner of the 2021 Doug Huff Award from the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.

Zervos will be honored at the 74th annual Victory Awards Dinner on May 23 at the Embassy Suites in Charleston.

The Doug Huff Award is named for the four-decade secretary-treasurer of the WVSWA, who is one of only five U.S. media members inducted into the National High School Sports Hall of Fame. Awarded since 2015, the recipients are listed on the wvswa.org website.

“An award like this means a lot to me because it’s not a skill-based award,” Zervos said. “Your drive and work ethic are things you can control and being recognized for all the work I put into everything means a lot to me.”

Vocal Cord Dysfunction has caused Zervos to focus more on her breathing while running due to the lack of air getting into her lungs, but she has harnessed the challenge and is not looking back.

“It’s definitely something present in my life but it’s something I have overcome,” Zervos said. “It’s not something that will go away but I’m working to find ways around it to make it better and to just not let it stop my drive to do well.

“I’m not looking for an excuse. I’m looking to succeed.”

That will and drive to compete at the highest level comes from her parents always believing in her.

“From the time I was little, my parents told me not to be like anyone else and to do my best each and every day and that’s something I took to heart,” Zervos said. “Each day is an opportunity to show what I can do, and I feel like that is what this award shows–that I followed that message.”

Her father, Ted Zervos, was also the John Marshall soccer coach and is her best friend.

“Primarily, I’m a father but I’ve also been a coach, her training partner and one of her biggest fans,” Ted Zervos said. “It’s been a pleasure to watch her grow up. I’m glad the hurdles she has been thrown haven’t been insurmountable and she’s been able to clear them and keep moving on and that all comes from within Zara.”

Zara Zervos is undecided where she will attend college at the moment, but she plans to major in aerospace engineering and run track, collegiately.

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