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Track Star Makes Headlines, Hopes for Bylines

Chanelle PriceChanelle Price’s track career didn’t exactly get off to a perfect start. When she was just nine, the now JEM junior and Lady Vols record holder in the 800 meters, won her race but was disqualified for mouthing off. “I sat down on the track and made the referees drag me off,” she says. “Literally, they had to grab my arms and legs. I’ll never live it down.”
Later, as a deadly serious teenager, she was posting 800-meter times that crept closer to the 2-minute-mark – opening a whole new world that was foreign to her teammates at her Easton, Pennsylvania high school such as: Will I go to Beijing to run in the 2008 Olympics a few weeks after I walk at graduation? Which of the 20-plus scholarship offers should I accept for the fall? Did The New York Times get a good picture of me for my profile?
“I was a 17-year-old running times that college seniors were running,” says Price. “There was a lot of pressure to stand up to what I already did, to break the high school record, to win all these national meets, and for the most part I did all of that. That’s why coming into college I felt like it was even more of a big deal for me to perform.”
The desire to perform at an elite level is what attracted Price and her parents, Yolanda and Harry, to J.J. Clark, UT’s track coach, who is renowned as one of the best 800-meter coaches in the world. What also sold her on UT is that her greatest passion aside from track is writing, and CCI’s journalism program has the tools necessary for her to develop that interest into a career when her running days are over.
Price stays busy with track and has her eye on May 2012, when she will graduate with a journalism degree, be thrust into the professional track circuit in Europe and continue to pursue her Olympic dreams. She also finds time to intern with Debra Jennings, the long-time director of media relations for the Lady Vols, which is helping her prepare to tackle another ambitious goal: to publish her own magazine.
“Getting to learn about all [of UT’s 23 varsity] sports from a different angle, by getting to watch instead of being the one performing, I’ve learned a lot,” she says. “I’ve learned how journalists work and the media relations side of things. It’s been a really interesting experience.”
Why publish her own magazine instead of working for Sports Illustrated or another publication? The same reason she loves to run: “I want to do things my way,” says Price. “I want to focus on female sports and talk about different things that females deal with in the sports world that aren’t discussed enough, and [I want] to highlight female accomplishments.”
With a busy schedule and an eye focused on the future, it could be easy to forget to enjoy the moment, but Price manages to have a good time along the way. “Everything will fall into place with Chanelle,” says Hazel Clark, J.J. Clark’s sister and fellow track star who is currently preparing for her fourth Olympics. “The biggest thing I tell her is to have fun with what she’s doing right now. And she does that. She smiles all the time, she’s a warm and genuine person, has a sense of humor about everything and is really in the moment.”
“I might never get that ‘normal college student’ life,” Price says. “But I wouldn’t know what to do with all the free time. I wouldn’t want ‘normal’ anyway.” – Austin Baird, JEM ‘11 (Photos by Holly Kane, JEM ’11)