KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – As Orange and White nation looks forward to football season, head football coach Jeremy Pruitt is gearing up for his second year at UT.
We wanted to know more about how his family is settling into Knoxville after the move here from Alabama.
Wife Casey is as strong as she is sweet.
As strong as she is sweet
A woman of faith who supports her husband is fiercely protective of their two little boys and is busy carving out her own path to help other women in East Tennessee.
Anchor Lori Tucker sat down for a “Conversation with Casey.”
The Pruitt home is comfortable and kid-friendly.
Casey Pruitt wouldn’t have it any other way.
The couple’s adorable sons Ridge, almost 4, and Flynt, nearly 2, love playing their version of pool on top of the table in the room where the team often hangs out.
Invested in players’ life outside football
“I don’t know anything about football, ” Casey says, “other than the basics, so I stay out of the actual football part of it but I love getting to know our football players as student-athletes. Just what makes them tick, what kind of classes are you having issues with, what’s your passion? How’s your major going, have you changed majors, how’s your girlfriend doing?”
She went on to tell us, “they need somebody here away from their parents, away from their mom or mother figure to let them know that they care about them and so I really get invested in our players and their life outside of football.”
Casey and Jeremy Pruitt will celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary on May 24.
In that time, they’ve had their two kids, played for three national championships; won two of them.
They’ve lived in four states at four different schools.
Dealing with autism
The home they’re in now is their ninth as a family, a family that includes Jeremy’s 23-year-old son Jayse from a previous relationship.
Raising their sons brings with it challenges not many people know about.
Ridge was diagnosed with autism.
“Jeremy and I had an inkling that there was a delay of some sort. We really didn’t know what it was, at about one year old when the speech was just not coming along like it normally would, ” Casey said.
Both Jeremy and I were educators. I taught high school for a little bit, he taught elementary PE his first job, so we both had been around kids and seen when there’s a deficiency, things we were just picking up on.”
Casey was proactive. Right after noticing his delays, she got Ridge into therapies geared toward kids with autism, so he was a step ahead when the official diagnosis came.
“And that made me feel just good as a parent. I had already taken the steps necessary to get him and I think it’s important that the sooner you start the therapy the better the outlook looks.”
Involved in helping women in need
She has a demanding schedule but something was missing in her new life here in Knoxville…something Casey had been praying about right before getting a phone call from community leader Susie Whitener asking her to co-chair Thursday’s luncheon benefiting Women’s Fund of East Tennessee.
“I thought, oh my goodness, I literally had just prayed for a woman’s, a woman’s something to be put into my lap to help with women specifically,” Casey said. “I just could nto have been more thankful to her for putting that in front of me and I think that’s why I’m getting so emotional because I’m so surrounded by men on a daily basis that I need that aspect of affecting women’s lives as well.”
The mission of the women’s fund is to transform the lives of low-income women and girls in our region. One of the keys for many is a college education.
First-generation college grad
“And that really hit home for me because I’m a first-generation college graduate in my family. I’m the first female in my family to not only go to college but to graduate with a degree and I went on to get my master’s degree and a lot of people within my community, within my family were like ‘ you already have a degree, why do you need a master’s?”
“And so I resonate with a lot of the women that the Women’s Fund reaches, where they’re from these communities where it’s just not the norm to maybe get a college education.”
Casey says she encourages young women to seek out the support of strong female leaders in their community. She says she learned the most from her mother.
“I saw that she’d had this job for years, and she was really helping to run this office but she could just never get above a certain pay grade because she didn’t have a college education and she wanted better for me.”