Meet The Klintsone
Irvine junior guard Anete Klintsone steps onto the court on game day. Her left hand is heavily bandaged, and tape crisscrosses across each of her legs, connecting her ankles to her knees to reduce the pain of her shin splints. It’s a true testament of her style of play.
“I’m aggressive. I’m energetic. I’m not a quitter. I’m a hard worker,” said a proud Klinsone. “I love to play basketball, so I give my everything. I’m a competitor. I’m going to keep and keep competing. When you do something you love, you want to do your best. That’s how it is with me and basketball.”
Klintsone’s consistent energy, hustle, and tenacity on the court has earned her much praise from her coaches, including assistant coach Doug Oliver, who appropriately nicknamed her after a Looney Tunes character, the Tasmanian Devil.
Her relentless attitude and never give up approach is something the Latvian-born guard developed at any early age. Coming from a family of basketball players, Klintsone recalls her first time picking up a basketball.
“My older sister was playing basketball and my mom left me at her practice. I was just hanging there. I took a ball in my hand and started dribbling. I remember the basket was so high ‘cause I was little, so the whole time my head was back. I kept shooting and catching the ball. The next morning when I woke up my neck was stiff.”
It has been quite a journey for Klintsone since then. Having won consecutive bronze medals for the Latvian U-20 National Team and a gold medal at the U-18 level, as well as serving as the team captain of the U-16, U-18 and U-20 teams, Klintsone caught the attention of scouts at Jefferson College, a junior college in Missouri regarded as one of the premier NJCAA Division I colleges in the nation.
“It feels amazing to represent your country because you feel like you’ve done a good-enough job to represent your country, [but] it was my dream to play basketball in the States,” admitted Klintsone. “I’m really thankful for my coaches [at Jefferson]. As a freshman, it was really weird to me. I was the sixth player because we had really good starters, but the coach and team really relied on me. It was a great experience. Those feelings I had every time I stepped on the court were amazing.”
That year, Klintsone’s contributions off the bench would help Jefferson advance to the NJCAA National Championship.
“The next year, when I was a sophomore, everything changed. I was the leading scorer. We were ranked #4 [in the nation]. I really grew up from my freshmen year to sophomore year and now my junior year. I’ve learned something every year that’s helped me get better and it’s going to show in the long run.”
Klintsone finished that year receiving first-team all-region honors, as well as being named the team’s Most Valuable Player. Perhaps the most important honor was the numerous Division I colleges calling for Klintsone’s services on the court.
“I had a lot of different options. About 16 schools were interested in me, but I was looking for a school high on education, good in basketball and in a nice place.”
Klintsone and her family set their sights on UC Irvine, where more than 15 years ago, they witnessed Raimonds Miglinieks, another Latvian-born guard, lead the nation in assists on his way to becoming the Big West player of the year in 1996.
“My dad and Raimonds are really, really good friends. He told my dad how it was here. My dad also knew men’s basketball coach Russ [Turner]. I visited and I liked it. My dad wanted me to come here, so I decided to come here.”
The UC Irvine women’s team has certainly felt the impact of Klintsone’s contributions on the court. On Jan. 9th, she was the first women’s player to garner Big West Player of the Week honors this year after averaging 18.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game en route to the Anteaters’ victories overUC Davis and University of the Pacific at home.
“It felt good, but honestly, the best feeling was winning those two games. Of course I care about how I play, but it’s not about me and my stats. It’s about the team. It was basically a team effort, but it just so happened to be my day. I’m glad I got player of the week, but I’m going to keep working hard to improve.”
Klintsone credits her humility and focus on a team-oriented philosophy toward the game to her European coaches.
It’s not difficult to see how much Klintsone values team effort. She is always diving on the ground and willing to put her body on the line for loose balls for the sake of the team. On the court she is fearless. She tries to lead by example.
“I do it for my team, my coaches and my family.
“It’s just me,” smiled Klintsone. “Nothing else matters when I’m on the court. It’s like another world for me. Sometimes it’s hard. There are so many things going on: school and you’re tired and everything else. Then you realize ‘this is the game. It’s what you’ve been waiting for. Just forget everything. This is your chance.’”