“When I was growing up I was quite shy,” said Anne Pryor this week.

 “I remember the first time I spoke in public was when we came back from the state basketball tournament in high school,” she said, speaking of her time on the first girls basketball team to win a state championship at Redwood Falls High School in 1976.

When she got up in front of the auditorium to face the hometown audience, “It was the first time I felt confident, because I was so passionate about the support the team got from the community.”

Pryor’s big breakthrough paid off in spades. On Friday, Sept. 23, Pryor will be awarded the 2011 Alumni Achievement Award from her college, Southwest Minnesota State University.

 

“When I was growing up I was quite shy,” said Anne Pryor this week.  “I remember the first time I spoke in public was when we came back from the state basketball tournament in high school,” she said, speaking of her time on the first girls basketball team to win a state championship at Redwood Falls High School in 1976. When she got up in front of the auditorium to face the hometown audience, “It was the first time I felt confident, because I was so passionate about the support the team got from the community.” Pryor’s big breakthrough paid off in spades. On Friday, Sept. 23, Pryor will be awarded the 2011 Alumni Achievement Award from her college, Southwest Minnesota State University. Yet it all began when Pryor attended the Catholic school in Redwood Falls from kindergarten through fourth grade. “Katherine Olson was my kindergarten teacher, and she was hugely influential,” Pryor said. “My folks were my biggest influence,” Pryor said. “My dad was one of the community’s bankers, and liked being generous and approachable,” said Pryor.  “When I moved to the big city, I wasn’t afraid to meet people because of coming from a close knit community where people helped each other. “The bottom line is, the community at large made me feel significant, so now I feel passionate about the value of a small town.” Pryor also credits her teenaged work experience in Redwood for helping set her on her way. “I started a lawn mowing service when I was 10, mowing the neighbors’ lawns,” she said. “Then when I was 14 or 15 I worked at the A&W restaurant as a car hop. In the summers during my junior and senior years, I was a life guard at the pool.” Pryor started her sports career in high school, eventually being named athlete of the year. “I played tennis with Mr. Shaw — he was an amazing coach,” Pryor said. “Being on the basketball team was a growing process. It was a good time to be playing in Redwood Falls. I got the tools to succeed from high school.” After high school, Pryor won a presidential scholarship to play basketball and tennis at Southwest State in Marshall. The 1982 SMSU grad created an individualized interdisciplinary degree in business and speech communication.  “Lt. Gov. Marlene Johnson came to campus, the only woman lieutenant governor in the country at the time.  “I went up to her and asked what advice she would give a student interested in public relations and communications.  ‘Create your own degree, create your own freedom plan,’ she told me. So I put together an interdisciplinary degree. I think I was one of the first to create one in business and speech communication.” Pryor made her first career decision when she was a little girl growing up in Redwood Falls in the 1960s. “I wanted to be Nancy Drew!” she said last week. “I wanted to be a sleuth. I didn’t know what a sleuth was, but I wanted to be one.” Today Pryor is a detective of another sort. She currently owns her own Twin Cities business, Meaningful Connections, which helps businesspeople meet and find common ground. “I help people be found,” she said. “I’m a teacher, a speaker, and a coach.” She also worked for 10 years at ValleyFair in sales and marketing. From there, was recruited to work at Camp Snoopy at the Mall of America, where she worked with Snoopy creator Charles Schultz in marketing, licensing and sales. Her jewelry line, called Lovitude®, was launched when she designed a piece of jewelry combining the letters “L” for love and “G” for gratitude and gave them to her professors at Saint Mary’s University in Minneapolis, where she earned her master’s in human development and holistic health. Although she currently lives in Minnetonka, Pryor visits her parents in Redwood often, and stays current with life here. “Seeing the swimming pool gone was very hard for me, since I spent so much time there,” she said, “but I love the new pool and the community center.” The shy girl on the basketball team finally found herself.