HARKER HEIGHTS — Her handprints still stain the archway in her home.
As an eighth-grader eager to emulate her father, Anjane Janda worked on her vertical leap by measuring how high she could touch on the archway between the kitchen and living room.
Then she moved on to the 9-foot ceiling, which she can now palm.
“By my freshman year, I wanted to be as good as my dad, so I’d challenge myself to do
certain things to make myself better ... it got to the point where I got really carried away,” Janda said. “I just wanted to be the best that I can be, and I kind of am right now, but I still want to get better. I still do it.”
That constant drive to improve with each leap has paid off with a scholarship to play volleyball at the University of Texas-Pan American.
After a tumultuous and stressful recruiting process, the 6-foot Harker Heights senior officially signed with UT-Pan Am last week, but because of scheduling conflicts with school, was unable to do a “signing ceremony” until Tuesday at the high school.
“It’s actually a big weight off my shoulders because I was really stressing about it, because I was like, ‘If I don’t get this right, then everything’s going to be a disaster for my future,’” Janda said.
It was a tumultuous recruiting process for Janda, a Daily Herald All-Area first team member. who was named the District 8-5A most valuable hitter. Janda set a single-season school record 267 kills to go along with 22 blocks, 180 digs and a team-high 17 aces as the Lady Knights’ biggest offensive threat.
Volleying between multiple offers for other small-tier Division I programs, Janda kept out hope that her preferred destination — Pan Am — would come around to offering her a full scholarship after only promising a partial earlier in the process.
But during her club season this spring, after a particularly strong showing at the Tour of Texas Qualifier, interest picked up for Janda, who was finally given a full scholarship to UT-Pan Am in February.
“It was long. That’s one word to describe it — looonng,” Janda said. “Because the whole recruiting process took three years and it was long, tough, frustrating. There were moments I couldn’t focus during school ... Sometimes I didn’t get enough sleep.”
Janda was the first of her senior class on varsity, coming up and contributing along the front line as a beanpole sophomore, but the last of five college-bound players off last season’s District 8-5A runner-up Lady Knights (35-7) to sign. She follows setter Kate Schulte (Temple College), libero Taylor Denney (Cisco Junior College) and middle blockers Deysia Burden (Southern University) and Shantrae Rodriguez (Siena College).
“It was a little frustrating because I just wanted to sign,” Janda said. “And while they were signing I was really happy for them, but during the cake and everything, I was wondering: ‘What if I don’t sign? It’s going to be a disaster, I don’t know what I’d do with my life.’”
Thankfully, despite a few harrowing months of worry, Janda will continue to leap for her next mark.
Now, though, she will have find a new archway — at UT-Pan Am.