Getting to Know Emily Pritt
Nov. 7, 2013
Each week GoPack.com will catch up with a different member of the cross country team to find out a little more about them. Today, we sit down with Emily Pritt a redshirt senior from Jackson High School in North Canton, Ohio.
After earning All-ACC and All-American honors her sophomore year, Pritt developed a hip injury that kept her away from cross country for three years. After a grueling rehab process, Pritt returned to compete for the team this season, racing for the first time in a cross country capacity since 2009. She is coming off a 34th-place finish in the ACC Championships on Nov. 1, the second-best result on the Wolfpack women’s team.
On Nov. 1 you competed in your first ACC Championships since 2009. How did that feel?
"I just took a moment the day before and just absorbed everything. There is always a part of me that kept pushing to come back, but I never knew if I would actually return. Just to be on the team and running in the ACC Championships was already a win in my column. I was so thrilled to be able to have the Wolfpack jersey for conference. I was pleased with my performance, but there is definitely room for improvement on my side, so I am looking forward to taking that next step at Regionals and hopefully that carries on through that performance."
Your first race back was the Roy Griak Invitational on Sept. 28, how was that?
“I was pretty nervous, I didn't know what to expect. I had raced once at an outdoor (track and field event) during the spring and I raced the mile at (track and field) conference championships and it blew me out of the water. I was not prepared for that. Cross country is different. I think I am a little bit stronger in cross country and I had a whole summer of training under my belt. There were some nerves there, but also some excitement just to be back out there. Instead of letting the nerves get to me I thought about how lucky I was to be back. It gave me a whole new appreciation for the sport and just being out there.”
The Wisconsin Invitational was your second event back. Take us through that race.
"The Griak was a very competitive field, but Wisconsin was even more competitive. It takes place the same week as Pre-Nationals. I knew going into it, it was going to be cold and with my injury it can make it a little worse. But I knew I had just got the first one under my belt and it just shook the rust off a little bit. I just wanted to improve from the race before and tried to stay with the girls that I had been doing work outs with. I just got in the race and went out a little harder than I did in the Griak, but the conditions were better. I just went out and tried to put a good race together. It was better than my performance at the Griak and my performance at the ACC's was better than Wisconsin. So with very small steps I am making it forward.”
Take us through your rehab process. What was that like?
"It took them about eight months to diagnosis the injury because it isn’t a very common injury. Before the surgery I was traveling all over the place to see specialists. I went to Canada, Portland,Ore., Maryland, and Colorado. I saw so many doctors and physical therapists. It was pretty grueling. Pre-surgery we were doing all of these strengthening exercises trying to figure out why. It seemed like my leg was shutting down almost. It was not working for me. So we were trying to do all of these strengthening exercises and massage work. Throughout the whole process, I was in the training room everyday, a lot of times twice a day working on whatever the new doctor thought might help. It was very tedious, after the surgery the recovery was pretty bad. For a normal person to injure their hip it changes how you walk. I went from running 70 miles a week to where I am strapped into this machine everyday for eight hours a day. It was just a little demoralizing and difficult. I think I was just so blind with my desire to come back, I just pushed through it all.”
It takes a lot of mental and physical strength to compete at a high level in cross country. Did that mental strength help play a part in your recovery to come back?
"I have always considered myself a mentally tough runner. My thing that I kind of have working for me, is I can just push through pain and adversity in races. I just wanted to come back so badly that I was blind to what it was going to take to get back that I just kept barreling through thinking the light was at the end of the tunnel. When I approached a new rehab process or doctor, I just kept barreling through hoping I was close to the finish line. There were times when it felt like it was never going to end, and I was in a tunnel of darkness but this University, the coaches, and my teammates mean a lot to me. And I thought if I put my mind to it, work really hard, and do everything I was told to do, I could come back to some level. I wasn’t sure what level. I was so desperate in my passion to come back and run that I just ignorantly and blindly kept running forward no matter what."
When did you realize that you could run again and you could be competitive?
"It started last spring. In January I started to train on a consistent basis and I was doing workouts and feeling better. I was still a little bit out of shape but when we made the decision I was going to line up at (track and field) conference championships, I knew I was back. It was an opportunity and it had finally come. It was a sense of relief that I could go back out there and compete like a use to. I always told (head coach) Laurie Henes that all I wanted to do was put my NC State jersey back on. That was all I wanted to do. I didn’t know what role or capacity. I was going to put it back on. I think that is why I even lined up at the conference championships. That’s a big step for your first race in three years - running a mile at conference. Then, throughout the summer, I really started feeling that I was back one hundred percent. I was running full mileage, I wasn’t having a lot of problems with pain and they were manageable from what I had in the past. We went to Colorado and did high-altitude training and then I came back here and did workouts. At that point I said, ‘You've worked yourself back, now lets go out there and prove that it wasn't for nothing.’”
Getting away from cross country, for a moment. Tell us about your internship with the Carolina Hurricanes.
“I have done a couple reporting internships. In the summer of 2012 I did an internship with USA Track and Field in Indianapolis, Ind. and right now I am doing an internship with the Hurricanes. Both the track and field internship and this internship are public relations and media relations internships. I did media communication undergrad and I am doing communications that is pretty much focused on PR and marketing as a grad student. “
Is this the career path you are looking towards?
“Yeah, something involving athletics. Probably track and field at some point. Anything in sports as a career will make me happy. I love my job with the Hurricanes, its really fun. I think for me, I love sports and just being in a sports culture is a lot of fun. What makes that internship so great for me is my two bosses are laid back and similar in personality to me. It is just a good environment over there. The other intern that works in the office with me told me the Hurricanes organization is one of the best in the NHL. When I go down to get clips from the players and coaches after the games, I will overhear the visiting media talking about how much they love coming to the Hurricanes game. I never knew that before I got the internship. I just have fun over there and don't ever dread going into work.”
Are you a big hockey fan?
“I knew hockey and I had been to a couple Hurricanes games before and I enjoyed it, but I didn’t know a lot. I wasn’t very knowledgeable about hockey, I knew who Sidney Crosby was, but that’s about as far as I got (laughs). But it has been interesting learning more about hockey. It’s kind of funny, I had some of the (cross country) girls over one night and turned the hockey game on - a year ago I would have never said that. It has been fun learning about a new sport I didn’t know much about before.”
Between school, cross country and your internship you seem pretty busy. Do you have any real free time to do other things?
"I am a pretty organized person even though I have a lot that I am juggling. I feel like a do a pretty good job of staying on task between running, graduate school, and the internship. There is a lot, but I do find time to hang out with the girls on the team. We all hang out together. I am a big movie fan and I really love movies so I try to get a bunch of them and go down to the Railto Theatre down on Glenwood Ave., or I have a bunch of people over and make dinner. My time spent outside of those three things is hanging out with the girls on the team and just relaxing or watching a movie and hanging out as a team.”
You are from North Canton, Ohio. What ultimately factored into your decision to come to NC State?
"I went on five official visits. I always say when people ask me every experience was good. I didn’t go one place and have bad experience, but when I came here I just felt at home almost. The girls had a lot to do with it. The girls on the team were very welcoming but my deciding factor was [men’s head coach] Rollie Geiger and [women’s head coach] Laurie Henes. It came down to three schools and I made a ranking system. I wrote down everything that was important and made a ranking system. Then, it came down to two schools between that. After that, I couldn’t envision myself calling Laurie and tell her I'm not coming to N.C. State. I barely knew her, but she made an impact on me. Also, I knew that this was the place with a great program history where I could go and be a part of that history and make it better. It was the best decision I ever made so far. People always ask, ‘Are you happy you made that decision and you went there and got hurt?’ The school didn't hurt me and the coaches didn't hurt me. It just happened and no other place and no other people would have taken care of me the way they have taken care of me here and believed in me over a three-year stretch. I told myself if I am a college coach, I don't know if I would have believed in a kid that is out for three years and they did that with me. They believed in me and stuck by my side through three years and they are a huge part of the reason why I am still here and why I came back. Honestly, words can’t describe how much those two [Coach Geiger and Coach Henes] have done for me and how much they mean to me. It has been a journey, but if I had to do it again with anybody, I would want to do it with those two and N.C. State. I am really happy that I chose to come here.”