Chanelle Price graduated from Easton Area (PA) in 2008. She was a multiple-time state champion, and competed in all kinds of venues and against all types of competition, but no other meet felt as much like home to her as the Penn Relays, where she was a seven-time champion. While focusing on the 800m, she finished high school with a 2:01.61 personal best. After a stellar prep career, she was named the 2008 Gatorade Player of the Year. She then went on to the University of Tennessee and graduated in 2012 as a nine-time All-American. After her collegiate career, Price won the U23 NACAC 800m title. In 2014, she won the World Indoor Championships in the 800m, while becoming the only American woman to win a gold medal in this event. Price is also a three-time World Relays gold medalist for the 4x800m relay.
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Take a deep breath. Embrace every part of the journey ahead of you. Everything you're about to experience plays a role in molding you into a better version of yourself. So, enjoy the ride. Enjoy the incredible people you'll meet along the way. Enjoy the amazing places you'll get to see. And enjoy every lap you take around the track. Because remember baby girl, you won't be able to run forever!
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Chanelle Price l Nike Athlete
Dear 17-Year-Old Chanelle,
You're getting ready to head to The University of Tennessee for your freshman year. After concluding your stellar high school career by running 2:01.61 at the Prefontaine Classic and being named the 2008 Gatorade Player of the Year, you're excited to join the Lady Vol track and field family and show these college girls what you're made of.
But college won't go how you expect it to go. You'll struggle quite a bit. You'll struggle with being away from home. You'll struggle with injuries. You'll struggle with finding a balance between being a student-athlete and having a social life. But most of all, you'll struggle with not being "high-school Chanelle" anymore.
You see, in college, everyone is good. In college, you're not the only superstar. And that pressure you feel? Those high expectations you've placed on yourself? You won't handle any of that very well. Wanting to win is one thing. But for you, it'll become an obsession. And when you don't win, or you don't run the times you want to run, or you don't have a good practice, you'll be EXTREMELY hard on yourself. You'll feel like a failure and want to exclude yourself from those around you. You'll turn to food for comfort and put on the "freshman fifteen" within the first semester.
But don't worry. With the help of your coach, JJ Clark, you'll get through it. JJ sees you as more than an athlete. You'll become like a daughter to him. Every time you beat yourself up for falling short of the standards you've set for yourself, JJ will be there to help you bounce back. He's patient with you. He believes in you. He cares about you.
Nevertheless, even with JJ's help, you'll still struggle to handle the pressure you've placed on yourself, and your goal of becoming an NCAA 800m champion is never fulfilled. You'll graduate as a 9x All-American, and your academic success will earn you a post-graduate scholarship. After college, you'll be tempted to walk away from the sport, but a newfound faith becomes your saving grace.
Developing a relationship with God really opens your eyes. You'll realize the immense pressure you place on yourself to succeed stems from track being your entire identity. Your self-worth is based off of how you run. But that isn't healthy. Nor is it true. You're more than a runner. Yes, you have a gift of running ... but that's not what defines you. You're worthy because God says you're worthy ... not because of anything you do or don't do. This new mindset is life-changing for you. It's like a 100-pound weight has been lifted off of your shoulders. You begin to run freely, and most importantly, you begin to enjoy the sport again.
Don't get me wrong, your desire to win is still there! In fact, in 2014, you'll go on to win the 2014 Indoor World Championships and become the first and only American woman to win the 800m at an indoor or outdoor world championship competition. While you receive your gold medal on the podium, you'll have tears flowing from your eyes. This victory means so much to you.
It's proof to yourself that not giving up was the right choice. It's a "thank-you" to your parents and JJ for continuing to believe in you. It's a message to the world that you're not "burnt out" or "washed up" like so many thought.
After this breakthrough performance, you'll sign a contract with Nike and spend the next several years competing all around the world. But don't get it twisted! It's not all rainbows and butterflies! You'll face your fair share of adversity including two foot surgeries; a nearly fatal health diagnosis of pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lungs); the loss of your shoe contract which leads you to work at some pretty interesting part-time jobs; and coaching changes that result in you relocating to states you never in a million years thought you'd live in.
But don't worry, Chanelle.
Take a deep breath. Embrace every part of the journey ahead of you. Everything you're about to experience plays a role in molding you into a better version of yourself. So, enjoy the ride. Enjoy the incredible people you'll meet along the way. Enjoy the amazing places you'll get to see.
And enjoy every lap you take around the track. Because remember baby girl, you won't be able to run forever!
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