Oxford’s Dennis always finds a way to get things done
By John Davis, Sports Editor
There are times when it’s hard for Oxford High’s Anna Dennis to get all of her school work completed, attend her various club meetings and compete in two different sports.
The soccer and swimming standout routinely juggles her schedule to fit in club soccer practice and high school swimming practices and meets. Dennis, who also holds a grade point average above 4.0, definitely has a lot going on in her life, and a lot to get accomplished.
Early mornings have turned into late nights for Dennis, who always seems to carve out time to study each night at home. Certain subjects in school come easy, or naturally, to Dennis. Her favorite?
“That’s a hard question. I would say that I’m pretty good at math, but my favorite subject is art,” she said with a laugh. “Last year I took Visual Arts II and we do a lot of stuff with color pencils which was really neat.”
This fall in the pool, Dennis is looking to contribute as much as she possibly can for the Chargers. She missed some time last season and that’s not in her plans her final go around.
“I’ve been swimming since I was 8 probably. I’ve been playing soccer a little bit longer, just when I could start,” Dennis said. “They’re both really different. I think they are sports that I’m good at and I enjoy doing them. Two years ago for swim, I had a really good season. I thought it was something I was good at.”
Dennis is a sprinter in the pool, swimming the 50- and 100-meter freestyle. In reality, she is a sprinter on the soccer field as well. She is always marked up with the other team’s best player as an outside backer. And she likes the contact that a soccer defender gets to be a part of.
“For both of them, you have to be a fighter. You have to get after it,” Dennis said about the similarities between swimming and soccer. “I like a lot of action.”
Hunter Crane coaches the Lady Chargers in soccer and he is amazed at what Dennis can get done.
“She is one of my favorite players because she always does it the right way. When you think of a student-athlete and the multiple sports, she is what you want your younger kids to look up to,” Crane said. “She has been that as a junior and she is going to be that as a senior and I just hope when people look at Anna Dennis, they say she did it the right way. That’s something impressive for her.”
Crane said that Dennis could play anywhere on the soccer field but she is the most comfortable at her defensive spot.
“Anna is going to be the one that marks the other team’s best goal scorer. I’m going to switch her to that side. She’s the frustrater and she is one of the better players on the team,” Crane said. “I look to her to solidify our defense. We gave up 17 goals all of last year and she was a huge reason why. She is a vocal leader and she was voted a captain again as a senior. She was our only junior captain last year. And she is taking on more of a leadership role this year now that the big group of seniors we had last year is gone. She was able to follow their example vocally. Even though I’m having to share her with swim, any of the questions the girls have, they send them to her and she gets in touch with me and sends it back out. She is one everyone looks to for guidance, on and off, the field.”
The Chargers have a lot of young swimmers on the roster, Dennis said, but many of them have been in the pool their whole lives. As for the soccer team, many feel Oxford is the team to beat in Class 5A.
“I think we’re going to be really good this year. For soccer, we lost some seniors that were key players but we have a lot of young players that are stepping up,” Dennis added. “That’s really good to see. I think we can win that second state title. I think there are people on the team that see that we’re good enough to do it, so why can’t we be good enough to do it again.”
Robert Gonzalez coaches Dennis in swimming, and he felt good about the freestyle events because of Dennis’ ability.
“Anna, due to her being a senior, has been around the program the longest. She carries more weight as far as what is expected of her,” Gonzalez said. “Being a dual-sport athlete, and being really good at both of those, that puts a lot of pressure on her to be able to lead a very young group. Being a leader doesn’t mean that you’re the fastest swimmer or the best swimmer. But she brings not only the quality of swimming that we need but she also brings a different mentality to our team that is very, very needed. If I had a team that were all Anna Dennis, then I would be in very, very good shape.”
Choosing a college is something Dennis is working on currently even if a decision may not happen until December, or even a little later. She is still unsure about which major she would study, but it’s clear that she will not be a doctor like her father.
“I would like to go away and see what’s out there but at the same time, I would be happy here,” said Dennis, who applied to Ole Miss last week. “I’m working on my application to Auburn. I may want to be a graphic designer or someone who makes things for advertising. I don’t do blood. I don’t do anything like that. I like to help people, just not medically.”