The Shoe Diaries: Univision's Mariana Atencio Thanks Tennis For Making Her Fully Bilingual

How a pair of tennis shoes got Univision's Mariana Atencio speaking English.

ByABC News
October 1, 2012, 4:57 PM

Oct. 15, 2012— -- Univision News reporter Mariana Atencio was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. Besides the typical Disney trip that many Latin American families venture to, she had not spent much time in the States before attending tennis summer camp at age seven. That's when her father sent Mariana and her siblings to Camp Lincoln and Camp Hubert Tennis Camp in Brainerd, Minnesota for four consecutive years. "It seemed like the end of the world," she says, with a laugh.

Mariana remembers telling people at camp that she was from "Venezuela" but people thought she was saying "Minnesota." "If you say it fast they do sound alike," she says. "But then people would look at me weirdly, because I was obviously not from Minnesota. All the other kids had blonde hair and blue eyes except for us."

Nobody at the camp spoke Spanish so the Atencio kids were pushed to learn English. Eventually, Atencio fit in so well with the Minnesota locals that she unknowingly adopted phrases like "dontchaknow," which she later realized were specific to Minnesota locals.

After getting her undergraduate degree in Venezuela, Mariana did her graduate degree at Columbia Journalism School, always keeping her roots in Venezuela while exploring her options in the U.S. "Looking at our Univision News team, speaking Spanish and English in this country as a journalist now is extremely valuable. So, I thank tennis for that," she says.

For a super-active girl like Mariana who is always on the move, whether she's chasing political figures down for an interview or a tennis ball down the court, the shoes make all the difference.

When you're done checking out Mariana's fab shoe gallery below, watch our other shoe-centric interviews with the network's Maria Elena Salinas, Teresa Rodriguez, and Satcha Pretto.

More Shoe Diaries to come soon!