Homegrown to exhibit the art of softball star Shocker

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – Wichita State’s Sydney McKinney’s talent on the court is no secret. The star shortstop was the NCAA’s leading batting average and leading strikes in 2022 en route to it second All-American honor. But recently, it’s his talents off the pitch that have been recognized.

In addition to McKinney’s All-American softball career, in her spare time she dabbled in the web.

“It’s really nice to sit down, paint, draw, and not care about anything but what you’re doing on the canvas,” McKinney said.

Specifically, McKinney is drawn to abstract paintings. The vibrant colors and “no rules” concept in many of her designs contrast nicely with the grind of a Division I athlete, she said.

The shortstop has only been painting for a few years, but already his works will be exhibited to hundreds of people. Popular Wichita-based restaurant Homegrown is opening a new store in Liberty, Mo., just 45 minutes from McKinney’s hometown. The new store will feature McKinney’s largest piece to date.

Homegrown founder Jon Rolph said the restaurant’s mission was to keep roots local, so finding a local connection with McKinney not only in Wichita but also in Libery was a perfect fit.

“To have this relationship [with Sydney] that we formed in Wichita and having that connection also in Liberty and Kansas City is really special for us,” Rolph said. “It makes it even more authentic and more real, which is our raison d’être.”

McKinney said she never imagined that a hobby she learned in college would result in her artwork being displayed at such a popular restaurant near her hometown of Norborne, Missouri.

“It meant a lot to them to ask me to do this art which is so close to my hometown. . . It’s kind of cool to be able to do something that people I know are going to see from their homes,” she said. “I never thought it would be seen by so many people.”

Rolph said he was happy to introduce Kansas City subway patrons to McKinney’s other talent rather than softball.

“That’s the great thing about getting to know people: you learn more about who they are and what they’re good at,” Rolph said. “So getting to know Syd in a more holistic way and knowing how on-brand she is, that’s been really fun for us.”

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