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Casey Pruitt Embraces Her 'Job' as Coach's Wife

By Gay Lyons

When I fell in love with Jeremy, I knew what his job entailed,” says Casey Pruitt, wife of University of Tennessee Head Football Coach Jeremy Pruitt. “I just decided from day one to embrace this. My job is to be a coach’s wife. You are the sole caregiver of your children, the sole caretaker of the house.

My job is to be his support system. All wives do that, but as a coach’s wife you have to be able to do things on your own. I know how to use every tool in our house, probably better than my husband.”

Casey’s well-prepared for the job.

“I grew up on a farm in a small town in south Alabama between Troy and Auburn,” she says. “Nobody has ever heard of Josie, Alabama, so we use Troy as our hometown. I have a B.A. and M.A. in English from Troy University. When I was in graduate school, I started working as a graduate assistant in compliance in the athletic department.”

“I fell in love with athletics and with compliance,” says Casey. “My first job was at Troy. Then I went to the University of Oklahoma. I was there for two seasons. Then I ended up taking a job at Florida State at the same time as my husband took a job there.”

“I loved my job,” she says, “but we decided we couldn’t both work in athletics and have a family, so I quit my job.

For now, my job is to be the coach’s wife. I choose to do this because I don’t think Jeremy should have to do this alone.

“We’re in this together.”

“I married the perfect man for my dad to be friends with,” says Casey. “My dad asked Jeremy where he was from, and when he told him Rainsville, my dad asked,

‘Isn’t that Plainview High School? I remember watching a state championship game once between Plainview and Luverne. There was a quarterback who threw an interception the first play of the game.’”

“Jeremy said, ‘Yep, that was mine.’”

“My dad and Jeremy can talk about games from 20 years ago,” says Casey. “They can’t remember to take out the trash on Monday, but they can remember every play of every ball game.”

The Pruitt household includes Jeremy, age 44, Casey, age 32, and their sons Ridge, age 3, and Flynt, who is 16 months old. Jeremy’s son Jayse, age 23, is enrolled in a masters degree program at Freed- Hardman University.

“The hardest thing is watching my children and my husband not be around each other as much as they want to be, “ Casey says. “Jayse came last week and went to meetings with him just to be in the same room with him.”

“We measure our lives in seasons,” says Casey. “This will be our sixth football season together. We have had four football jobs, two national championships, a wedding, two kids and nine residences. No one has had a crazier six years than we’ve had.”

Just how long is a season? Pretty much the whole year.

“Right after signing day, the first Wednesday in February, we have some family time,” says Casey. “It starts again in March, getting ready for spring camp in April. April is a huge recruiting month. May is a busy month recruiting wise. June is camps.

“July is the month where we say ‘Whew, finally.’ Three weeks in July are the icing on the cupcake of the coach’s wife’s life. We all know August is coming, and once August hits, it’s game on.”

Not that Casey minds.

“If you’re a coach’s wife you get as excited about football season as you do about the the three weeks off. You’re tired of the hype. You’re tired of the build up. It’s here. Let’s show them what we’ve got.”

“Game day for me revolves around recruiting,” says Casey. “I have always taken the stance of ‘my husband can’t invest a lot in recruiting on game day. He’s doing his job down on the field.’ I introduce myself to recruits and their parents. Sometimes there are official visits, and I’ll have meals with them. I love recruiting. One of my favorite things is to see a recruit we have made a deep connection with sign with our school.

“I do get to sit and watch the game, but I move around. I may go hide out in the bathroom. I am a nervous wreck until the end.

“After the game I’ll go watch Jeremy’s press conference. If the kids are there, I’ll take them down to the field so they can see their dad before he goes to the locker room. They love it. “Then we’re walking around and talking to recruits and their families again. So game days are pretty long.”

Having arrived in Knoxville in May, Casey’s been “enjoying getting the lay of the land.”

“This is the biggest city we’ve ever lived in,” she says.

“We like the zoo and The Muse. We take the kids downtown to the farmers market. We love supporting local businesses, local farmers, local restaurants. My three year old loves dogs, and there are a million dogs down there.

“I try to cook as healthy as possible, but ‘hello, we do live in the south.’ We eat a lot of home grown vegetables. We don’t eat a lot of meat. We love exploring the local restaurants.”

And, yes, she’s made some wardrobe adjustments.

“Every school I’ve ever been at the rival school color was orange so I didn’t really own anything orange,” says Casey. “As soon as Jeremy took the job, I immediately started looking for my orange. I have loved getting to know the boutiques in town and what they carry. I was ready for a color change; I had a lot of different shades of red.”

Casey’s making friends, especially with other moms, and she’s grateful for her instant support system.

“Everywhere I’ve gone, the coaches’ wives and their kids become your instant family. You are a support system for each other. One thing you have in common is that your husband is never home. You see your coaches’ families at Thanksgiving and sometimes Christmas instead of your extended family. I was filling out paperwork for my son’s preschool, and my second contact was one of the coaches’ wives.

“As the head coach’s wife, I always want to make sure [the other coaches’ wives] and their kids are comfortable. 'How are the kids adjusting to their schools? Do you need help finding a dentist?' I think I have a very special obligation to them.”

“Nobody else understands our life,” she continues. “It’s a very special, very unique way of living. Nobody gets it but another coach’s wife.”

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