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Pruzinsky wins Big East honor

Joe Hettler | Friday, February 20, 2004

Vanessa Pruzinsky’s reaction told the story.

Asked how she felt about being named the 2003-04 Big East Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Pruzinsky simply said, “I had no idea I won that.”

Anyone that knows Pruzinsky shouldn’t be surprised she was too busy to notice her recent award. During her time at Notre Dame, Pruzinsky stayed very active, playing defender on the women’s soccer team and graduating as one of the best to ever play under coach Randy Waldrum. In her “free time”, she managed to earn a perfect 4.0 grade point average as a chemical engineering major.

After graduating in May with an undergraduate degree, Pruzinsky took graduate classes last fall. She recently accepted a job in New Jersey and is in the process of moving there right now.

“It feels great to be named that after putting in a lot of hard work at Notre Dame, both academically and on the soccer field,” Pruzinsky said. “I had to manage my time well and any free time I did have, I had to make sure I was studying and putting in the work off the field.”

Pruzinsky returned for a fifth-year after injuring her ankle and missing her senior season. She helped lead the Irish to a 20-3-1 record and a No. 2 national ranking before the Irish fell to Michigan in the NCAA tournament 1-0.

Wladrum said Pruzinsky was one of the hardest working players he has coached.

“You coach so long, and you have a few players that standout that go through your programs, and you always remember that they set a standard for your program and [Pruzinsky] is one of those kids,” Waldrum said. “Her work ethic is tremendous.”

Before her senior year she was named preseason Big East Defender of the Year. She was named to the Big East first-team as a junior, Big East second-team as a sophomore and Big Rookie of the Year during her freshman season.

Waldrum said watching Pruzinsky develop over the past five years has been a pleasure.

“I always realted her to what I think of as a true professional athlete,” Waldrum said. “She was one of those kind of players that came in everyday and did her job. You didn’t know if she was having a good day or a bad day.”

Pruzinsky is the sixth Notre Dame athlete in nine years to receive the award, which is awarded to one male and one female athlete each year.