WAYNE, NJ – Hard work is how both Wayne Hills male and female nominees for Passaic County Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award earned the recognition this year. Athenia “Afi” Ibragimov and Carter Lewis were selected as the school’s nominees for their academic prowess and for their athleticism, but mostly for their hard work and great attitudes.

“What set Afi apart from many of her peers was something simple, yet often overlooked: simple hard work,” said Ibragimov’s swim coach Mike Shale.

Lewis’ Lacrosse Coach, Marc Jacobson said: “Carter was able to enjoy the sports for what they were: Playing, having fun, competition and improvement through hard work and dedication.”

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Ibragimov is a gifted athlete who earned ten varsity letters (eleven, if not for this year’s canceled spring season), playing all four of her high school years in Field Hockey in the fall, on the Swim Team in winter and on the Track team in Spring.

She was given the Elaine Watson Award this year for her selfless, team-first attitude, and last year received the Coach’s Award for Spring Track. Chistina Caamaño, Ibragimov’s Track coach and former English teacher explained why she received the coach's award: “Afi possesses an ideal team-first attitude. She truly does lead by example and is the epitome of selflessness, dedication, and unwavering commitment.”

Lewis played Basketball in the winter and Lacrosse in the spring.  Although he is a very good athlete, things did not come easy for Lewis. For both sports, he played on the freshman team, the JV team in his sophomore year, and made it to Varsity in his junior year, but had a limited role.

This past year, in basketball, Carter was a varsity starter and led the team in scoring, and was described by one of his coaches as “an absolute stud.” Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, the spring sports season was canceled, and Lewis did not get his chance to start on the varsity team for Lacrosse. His coach, Marc Jacobson said: “This year we were counting on Carter to be one of our main offensive and defensive threats, but it never happened.”

Academically, the two students are in the top five percent of their class. Ibragimov has an impressive 3.8 GPA and Lewis told TAPinto: “I had a 3.8 GPA from my freshman to junior year, and a 4.3 GPA in my senior year.”

Ibragimov will be attending Rutgers next year and plans to major in one of the sciences. “Possibly Pre-Med,” she said.  Lewis will be attending the University of Maryland where he plans on earning a degree in Computer Engineering.

“My athletics and my education at Wayne Hills were really challenging, and they pushed me to become a better student and to constantly improve myself to be the best student-athlete I could become,” said Ibargimov. “The academics and athletics went hand-in-hand for me. One pushed me on the field and the other pushed me off the field.”

She went on to compliment all the coaches she had at Hills. “There were times when I wanted to give up; or felt like I just couldn’t do it,” she said. “My coaches always gave me the inspiration, raised me up and gave me the power to feel like I could really do it. I loved how they never gave up on me.”

Lewis showed his appreciation for his coaches and teammates as well. “I just want to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who supported me along the way and helped me get to where I wanted to be in the future.”

It was his Dad that was his real inspiration.  “My father, Charlie Lewis, played basketball for a division two school in Minnesota, and he was always there to workout with me and helped me become a better player. And, my Mom was always driving me to practices and anywhere I needed to be.  I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Jacoson summed up Lewis with this: “Carter exemplifies what you want in a student-athlete. While he is a better athlete, he is a better human being. He is phenomenal in the classroom, and he is a young man that does everything the right way.”

“While she may not be someone that folks outside of Wayne Hills know by name,” said Swim Coach Mike Shale. “Afi Ibragimov is the kind of student athlete that her coaches and teammates will NEVER forget, and we will miss dearly next season.