Feb. 2, 2012
Tennessee senior middle distance standout Chanelle Price is in the final season of her collegiate career, but she still has a few things to finish before her time at Rocky Top is complete. Price, winner of both the indoor and outdoor SEC women's 800-meter races in 2011, hopes to defend those championships and add to that the title of national champion.
The product of Easton, Pa., currently ranks fourth in the nation in the 800 with a time of 2:05.33. She is especially excited about the meet this weekend at her favorite venue, the Armory in New York City, where she has competed many times since the start of her prep career. This is her last 800m of the indoor season before the SEC Championships, which will be contested in Lexington, Ky., Feb. 24-26.
When did you first get interested in running?
"I actually played soccer; that was my first sport after dance. I was around eight or nine, and the soccer coach told me that I needed to run track, so we found a local club in New Jersey."
How did you know what would be the best distance for you?
"I started off as a sprinter, like doing the 400m, and afterward I wouldn't really be tired, so my mom suggested that I start running the 800. Ever since then, the 800 has been my main event."
What other sports did you play?
"I started off with dance when I was three, and then as I grew up, I did soccer, basketball, and track, along with dance. I did those up until high school, and when I entered high school, my parents told me I needed to decide on one sport, and I chose track."
Do you have any other family members who play sports?
"My older brother, who is 24, went to a school in Pennsylvania for football."
Do you have a favorite meet or venue?
"Indoors, I would say I love going home to the Armory in New York, where we're going this weekend. It's probably my favorite indoor venue. It's like home for me because I ran there in high school so many times that I can't even count. Outdoors, Eugene, Ore. is the running capital of the world, so there is always a good crowd out there."
What has been your greatest moment as a Lady Vol?
"There's so many, but if I had to pick one, I would say my freshman year, we set the DMR world record, and if you would have ever asked me coming into college if I would be a world record holder my freshman year, I would say I didn't see it coming."
Do you have any pre-meet or pre-race superstitions or rituals?
"Not really any superstitions, but I do listen to motivational music, mostly gospel music. I call it getting into my zone. It's my ritual of trying to stay relaxed."
Do you get nervous before you run?
"Definitely. That's something I've tried to work on as I've matured. I tell myself it's just a race, and it's not a life or death situation. It's gotten better, but I do still get nervous."
What do you think about when you're getting ready to run and during the race?
"I just like to tell myself to do my best, because God has given me so much talent that I want to do my best for Him. I don't want to take what He's given me for granted. I always give my best for God."
What is your favorite thing about running?
"How challenging it is. I like the challenge. Though the practice is hard, and you don't always want to do it, the end result of winning, whether it's coming in first or getting a personal best, seeing all of the hard work pay off makes it such a hard sport."
How does weather affect your running outdoors?
"The 800 is a brutal race, and I'm usually the type to just take the lead and go, but when it's windy and cold and rainy, it's hard. It is something that everyone in the race is dealing with, though, so unless you're in the lead, which is the only time you can say, "I was doing more work than the people following me," you get used to it. The heat affects me more so in practice, just being out there so long and doing so many intervals. For a race, not really, because it's so short, but it does affect me in practice."
Do you hear fans cheering while you are competing?
"The one person I do always hear is my mom. I listen for her voice. She's always been my number one motivation, so just hearing her as I come down the final straightaway, yelling, "Go baby, go!" really helps. Mostly my mom, but if the team is together and shouting, I hear them, too."
Does your mom come to all of your meets?
"Any race that I have up North, she'll come to. Also the big meets, like SECs or NCAAs or Olympic Trials."
What made you decide to come to UT?
"I'm very into academics as well as track, so I looked for a place that had a good journalism program and a good track team. Coach Clark is known worldwide for his middle distance training, so it was a perfect fit in both areas."
How has it been to have an Olympic coach like J.J. Clark to work with every day?
"It's an honor. He's taken so many athletes to the next stage, and that's what I want to do, so I can't see myself anywhere else."
What has been the impact of running with some of the Lady Vols and post-collegiate runners you have seen during your career here?
"I've definitely grown as an athlete and as a person. I've had to mature. I wasn't really used to getting beat in meets or in practice. I was always the best (in high school), but you come out here and you're not anymore, and it's a humbling experience. It makes you appreciate it even more."
What is the sense of camaraderie like among the Lady Vols?
"These girls are my family. We don't really have time to make other friends. You train and you go to class, and so you don't have time for anything else. I have a close family at home, so I needed to come here and feel that I was with a team that I could make my second family. I love these girls, and I'm going to miss them a lot when I graduate. Not being on that team is going to be hard."
What do you like to do when you aren't in class or training?
"We love Market Square, and we go grab some sushi. The mall is fun; we go get pedicures and get our nails done together and walk around. We mostly window shop. We're on a college budget. It's mostly things that are relaxing, because we're usually going constantly. Movies, shopping, things like that."
What is your favorite sport to play, or just watch, other than running?
"I love watching football. I was a tomboy growing up with my brother and his friends, and I used to play with them."
Who are some athletes you admire?
"Growing up, I always admired Wilma Rudolph because of the struggles she went through and for her to persevere like she did was incredible. Currently, Hazel Clark, who we train with, Jearl Miles-Clark, even girls that are around my age but are professionals now like Phoebe Wright and Sarah Bowman. They're all great."
As the Gatorade National High School Athlete of the Year coming out of high school, did you get to attend the ESPYs? What was it like?
"Yes, I did. It was incredible. Before coming to college, being the Gatorade Athlete of the Year was the biggest accomplishment. I can still remember event-by-event what happened, and it's still one of the best experiences of my life. We were on the red carpet with famous athletes, and they don't know who we are, but we know who they are, so it was really cool."
How did you earn that award?
"They named me as the track and field athlete of the year, and they pick a soccer athlete and a basketball athlete. I think they pick from six different sports. From the six of us, they pick the actual overall athlete of the year. I went there not expecting it. I was going against the top athletes in the country. I didn't know I was going to win. They told me the deciding factor was, when I was 17, I ran against professionals, and I held my own and wasn't scared. I didn't win, but I showed a lot of courage, and they said that was what did it."
What's something interesting about you that people may not know?
"Not a lot of people know how into dance I was. I did it for 10 years, and it was a major part of my life. It was hard to choose between track and dance."
What's the one thing you can't live without?
"Chocolate. I have to be smart about it, but I love chocolate."
After winning both SEC 800m titles last year, what is your goal at both the conference and national levels this season?
"I definitely want to defend my SEC titles. For SECs, just to defend my titles, and at nationals, I want to be a national champion. I've always dreamed of being an individual NCAA champion, and this is my last year to do it. If I could get those titles, I think my college career will be complete."
How pleasing was it to get an NCAA automatic qualifying mark in the DMR at Texas A&M?
"Very, considering the fact that we had no intentions of running an automatic. We didn't even know what the time was for an automatic. Coach told us to go out there have fun, and that this was just training. It just reaffirmed that you don't have to force things, it will just come. That race helped me with my model for the rest of the season. As long as I'm working hard, things will come to me. Things come to me easier when I don't force it. Coach tells me that, but I get so wound up and so pumped that I force a lot, but this year I'm trying to be relaxed and have fun."
What is your plan in terms of how many more 800s you'll run before the indoor conference championships?
"I'll run my last one this weekend in New York. This is basically pre-nationals. It's the best girls in the country coming to this race at The Armory. It's a good place to see where I am. This will be the last one before conference."
Do you have any other major goals for the season?
"I definitely want to get a qualifying time for the Olympic Trials. Once my collegiate season is over, that's what's next. Hopefully I'll make the team to London. I have to run it in 2:01 outdoors to make it to the Olympic Trial meet. The top three runners at the Trials will make the Olympic Team."
What is your major, and what are your favorite classes?
"I am a journalism major, in the magazine track. Right now, my favorite class is a magazine workshop. We're working on Scoop magazine, and just the idea of us publishing a magazine by the end of the semester is really exciting."
Are you really involved in journalism?
"It's hard to do things like the Daily Beacon (daily school newspaper), but I have written for the Tennessee Journalist (online student publication). I'm working with my advisor to do more stuff so that I can build a résumé."
What career would you like to have after you complete your competitive career?
"I want to do something that involves traveling and talking to kids - not about track necessarily, but just motivational speaking. I also want to write for a sports magazine one day. Something in the writing and broadcasting world that keeps me connected with sports. I also want to use my degree."