By Nadia Maria Smith

CS&T Staff Writer

Eleven-year-old Maura Avington is a budding writer with a promising future.

She was the winner of American Girl magazine’s latest short story contest and had her story published in the January/February issue of the national magazine loved by many tweens.

“I was really, really excited,” Maura said. “I was jumping up and down when I found out. It’s my favorite magazine.”

A sixth grader at St. Ephrem School in Bensalem, Maura started receiving the magazine as a birthday gift from her grandparents three years ago and has been reading it ever since.

She always enjoys the short stories found at the end of the magazine, and one day she saw an ad announcing a short story contest, she said.

Immediately she decided to enter. Of the three themes given: “A team that never wins,” “A secret admirer” or “A pair of magic dance shoes,” she decided to write a story on the first.

Her story is about a girl named Carly who is a member of the Kool Kickers with her best friends. The team isn’t very good, but she is a good player and has the possibility to be recruited to a better team. She is torn between the potential of getting a scholarship if she excels on the new team and leaving her best friends behind.

Ultimately, Carly realizes that “winning and losing doesn’t matter so much. Being with these girls, my best friends, means more to me,” so she decides to decline the recruiter’s offer.

“Soccer is not my life, but I was able to pull from my own experience although I was never as good as Carly or anything,” Maura said.

She wanted to convey that “it is more important to be with people you like and work with them than to be at a higher playing level,” she said.

Soccer may not be her life, but writing surely is.

“I have a million stories going on my computer,” Maura said. “Everyday I come home and type on the computer. I’ve been working on one of my stories for two years and it’s 194 pages. I guess you can say I’m writing a book.”

Her fiction stories have to do with real-life challenges faced by middle school students such as bullying, friendships and growing up, she said. Maura weaves her Catholic faith into her stories in subtle ways that can be found in the characters she develops, or in the morals of the stories.

It’s no wonder that English is her favorite subject and that she believes her teachers are preparing her well for her future writing career.

Maura believes her affection for writing was partly instilled by her father, Bill Avington, the director of marketing and communications for St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Philadelphia, who shares her love of writing.

“He helps me. He sometimes reads over my stories and gives me some tips. And [he] usually says they are really good, which is kind of his job [since] he’s my dad,” she said.

She writes, she said, “partly because I like to read so much. I hope there are other people out there that, if I become a writer, will read my stories.”

CS&T staff writer Nadia Maria Smith may be reached at or (215) 965-4614.