By Emily Larkin, Managing and Online Editor
Though Newman’s new athletic director Joanna Pryor will be the only female athletic director in the Mid American-Collegiate Conference, she said that fact never actually occurred to her.
It wasn’t until Director of University Relations Clark Schafer mentioned it to Pryor on the day that she accepted the job that she even realized it.
“I’ve never really thought about it. I’ve always just considered myself equal,” Pryor said. “It doesn’t intimidate me at all.”
In March, Pryor was hired to succeed Vic Trilli as Newman’s new athletic director, taking over a role that Trilli had filled since 2008. Pryor, who’s been a Newman administrator for eight years, currently serves as the Associate Athletic Director and Compliance Coordinator. She’ll take over the athletic director job at the beginning of next year and will oversee Newman’s Athletic Department as it transitions from the Heartland Conference to the MIAA.
Pryor said she is confident in her ability to do the job and believes that comes from her upbringing, which informed her whole career.
“I don’t know anything else. When I got out of college, I started in sports and I’ve never left,” she said. “I’ve always been in a male-dominated world, which I had three brothers growing up, so I didn’t know anything different there either.”
During her undergraduate studies, Pryor played volleyball at Cowley County Community College before moving into a student coaching position at Wichita State University. Prior to Newman, Pryor coached volleyball at Cowley County for two years.
“When I first started coaching, I was 22 years old and I said to myself that I would probably coach for three to five years and then move into administration,” Pryor said.
Pryor coached there for eight seasons before transferring to be the Newman volleyball coach. After two years of coaching, Pryor was asked to move into both the Assistant Athletic Director and Compliance Coordinator roles.
Pryor said that after all she has done in her career, her new position gives her the opportunity to move Newman athletics forward.
“With becoming Athletic Director, it just felt like the right time. Vic retiring was a natural push,” she said. “But I also felt I was in the right position at the right time to help the coaches through a transition into the MIAA through some scholarship things and other difficult times.”
In an interview with Newman Advancement, President Noreen Carrocci said she is sure Pryor is right to advance Newman into its new conference.
“Having Joanna Pryor take the helm of the athletic department as we move to the MIAA next year gives me great confidence,” Carrocci said. “She is the right person, with the right skill set, to lead us into a promising future.”
Pryor said that her son Calvin and her two daughters Logan and Jordan have helped push her to take many of the opportunities that have been given to her.
“I knew that the opportunities might not always be there, so you’ve got to take them when they’re there. You can’t just wait around,” she said. “The older you get, your focus changes. Before I had kids, my job was the only thing that I did. I did my job 24/7- I coached and traveled and recruited. And when I started having kids, I learned that there’s more to life than just work, so then you try to learn your work-life balance.”
Pryor said that her kids have helped her see a different perspective to each of her jobs.
“I think having kids has allowed me to see all sides. When you’re dealing with kids day in and day out, you can kind of look at them as a mother,” she said. “Or when I’m talking to a parent on the phone. I try to think about if it was my kid and I was calling.”
In an interview with Newman Advancement, Trill said that Pryor is more than fit for the job at hand.
“I’m really excited and happy for Jo. She has earned this chance. Over the past eight years, she has been an essential part of our administration team and has helped me tremendously, and I look forward to the great places she will lead Jets Athletics,” Trilli said. “I’m confident that people will recognize quickly the many skills and great leadership abilities she will bring to the role.”
Pryor said that during her time working with Trilli, he was known for his signature quote: “If it’s to be, it’s up to me”
She’s not sure what her quote will be, she said, but there’s one that stands out to her:
“To build a strong team, you must see someone else’s strength as a compliment to your weakness, not a threat to your position or authority.”
PHOTO: JOANNA PRYOR has been in an administrative role at Newman for eight years. Courtesy photo, Newman Athletics