Even though Danni Akers transferred from Alpine to Wink after her sophomore year, she quickly exemplified the Wildcat way at her new school.
The multi-sport standout immediately charted her path when she started her junior year at Wink, balancing various extracurricular activities along with rigorous coursework.
Akers is now set to move on to the next phase of her academic career, finishing high school as Wink’s Class of 2021 valedictorian with a 4.0 GPA.
In Alpine, Akers stood out as an award winner in track and field, volleyball and golf as a freshman and sophomore.
While transferring to a different city and high school could be difficult for some students, Akers took it in stride and picked up where she left off.
She even found a way to bolster her previous accomplishments by picking up some state recognition in volleyball.
Through all the athletic accolades, Akers managed to add 39 college credit hours to an already impressive resume.
Wink-Loving Early College Academy dual credit coordinator Samantha Carman said Akers is one of the most self-driven students she has seen in her 29 years in education.
“Never once did I have to ask her to get something in,” Carman said. “She was always on top of things and working ahead.
“She’s just a lovely kid, you wish you had a classroom full of them.”
When Akers wasn’t in the classroom or competing in a sport, she spent her time around animals. She has shown steers for both Alpine FFA and Wink-Loving County 4-H.
After her high school graduation, Akers wants to study to be a large and small animal vet.
She’s considering attending Texas A&M or Tarleton State, with her collegiate choice dependent upon if she wants to continue her track and field career.
“I think both of them will be very good schools, they have very nice vet programs,” Akers said. “If I decide to go to Tarleton, I’m probably going to try to walk on to their track team.
“If I decide not to take the athletic route, I will definitely go to A&M because that’s always been my dream college.”
Throughout her academic career, Akers has worked ahead to stay on top of assignments and maintain the highest grades possible.
She made it a point to avoid outside distractions and finish her homework in class, helping her avoid any late nights after long practices.
Akers felt good about locking down the top spot in her graduating class while balancing athletics. She hopes she can be an example for other student-athletes looking to hold that balance.
“It’s good to leave that legacy behind because it shows kids that you can be involved in sports and still be able to maintain your grades, and it’s not hard to do,” she said. “You just have to have the dedication, focus and time to do it.”
Despite only living there for two years, Akers’ impact can already be felt in the Wink community. Athletic director Brian Gibson said a lot of the younger athletes in the school district look up to Akers and started modeling the way they jump and vault after her.
Her rise from role player to key contributor on the Wink volleyball team also stands out to them.
“She kind of showed some kids that you don’t always have to be the star early on,” Gibson said. “If you keep working and you keep that commitment, eventually your time will come.”
Carman got to see Akers every morning as part of her first period class, mentioning that the student always had a smile on her face. She believes Akers can do anything she sets her mind to in the future.
“Whatever she says she’s going to do, that’s what she’ll do,” Carman said. “She’s a very honorable young lady, she plays hard and she plays clean. She does that in sports and in life.
“I know that she’ll be remembered for a long time to come.”
>> Follow Chris Amaya on Twitter at @OA_CAmaya
>> Academic Rank: 1 of 34
>> Sports: Volleyball; Basketball; Track; Softball; Golf
>> Academic bio: Class of 2021 Valedictorian with a 4.0 GPA; First-team Academic All-State Volleyball; First-team Academic All-State Basketball; Treasurer/Secretary of the Wink High School National Honor Society; 2020 Wink High School High Point Girl; Numerous Outstanding academic awards for Math, Science and FFA at Alpine High School
>> Athletic bio: At Alpine High School (Region 1 3A Individual Regional Qualifier in Golf; Region 1 3A Regional Qualifier in Pole Vault as a Freshman. District 5 3A Newcomer of the Year, District and Bi-district Champions in Volleyball as a sophomore. District 5 3A Champion and Regional Qualifier in Pole Vault and finished 5th in the Region as a sophomore); At Wink High School (2019 State Semi-finalist and District 7 2A Outstanding Blocker in Volleyball; 2020 District 7 2A Champions and Area Qualifier, as well as District 7 2A 6th man in basketball; 2020 Volleyball Region 1 Runner-up and District 7 2A MVP, as well as 1st team All-State; 2021 District 7 2A Defensive MVP in basketball; 2021 Pole Vault District 7 2A Champion and area qualifier in high jump and triple jump; 2021 Golf District Champion (team), Regional Qualifier (team) and State Championship qualifier (team)
>> Activities: LDE’s; CDE’s; Showed Steers with Alpine FFA and Winkler-Loving County 4-H; FTC Robotics; UIL Academics; FRC Robotics
>> College and major: Texas A&M or Tarleton State University (Veterinarian Medicine)
>> Goals for the future: Go to college to become and large- and small-animal vet
>> Favorite subject: Math
>> Favorite book: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
>> Favorite musician: Cody Johnson
>> Role model: My Great Grandparents, Nana and Aggie