EDINBURG (KVEO) – To many, sports are an art form and athletes are artists.
Edinburg basketball star A’nnika Saenz takes that connection literally.
The senior guard will soon officially commit to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley on a basketball scholarship. When she does, it won’t be the first time Saenz puts pen to paper.
“[Art] is one of my great passions,” Saenz said. “I eat lunch with my art teacher, and my friends in the classroom don’t really know that I have a double life in eight period when I go shoot hoops.”
Don’t think Saenz had to go very far to find this passion. Upon walking into her living room, you’ll find a wall full of art. Her mother, Leticia Saenz, displays a collection of personal projects and unique finds for all to see.
“We have always been around art,” Leticia Saenz said. “It’s just a beautiful way for [my girls] to express themselves.”
Though art has always been a constant in the Saenz family, A’nnika Saenz didn’t find her passion for the craft until her freshman year.
“I think it was after my first ACL tear, which was my freshman year,” young Saenz said. “I just dove head first right into art and I think it was just an outlet of creativity.”
Her new-found passion offered relief from the difficulty of injury. Art served the same purpose in her life when she tore her ACL a second time and when COVID-19 forced many to quarantine.
“There are so many sides to her that people don’t know,” Saenz’s mom said. “They just see her as an athlete, but she’s an artist in many, many ways.”
A’nnika Saenz’s “artistry” envelopes many different aspects of her life. Beyond athletics and art, Saenz is among the top students in her class, and she is a part of a mock trial team that will compete at the state level this season.
The key to her involvement and success? Time management.
“Fran [Lebowitz] used to say, ‘nobody can afford live in new but everybody does,'” Saenz said with a smile. “It’s the same thing with time management. You find a way to make things work and you find a way to do what you love.”
A’nnika Saenz is more than an athlete.