For Knoxville native and former Belmont soccer player Emily Proud, sports have always been a huge aspect of her life.

“I grew up playing any and every sport I could try. I tried swimming, basketball, lacrosse, soccer and volleyball. You name it,” Proud recalled. “There’s so many wonderful lessons I learned and people I’ve met playing sports my whole life.”

She earned her degree in journalism and played for Belmont from 2012-2015. She also earned the OVC Academic Medal of Honor as a senior.

“Being involved in sports made me realize how many great stories there are in athletes,” Proud said. “Whether it’s how they overcome their obstacles or how they bounced from team to team, it just makes them interesting human beings.”

Proud currently works for the WKRN-TV sports team in Nashville and has worked with them since 2018. While she loves her job, she hopes one day to chase her dream of working at a higher level.

“In local news, the totem pole is weather, traffic, breaking news, now coronavirus, and then there’s sports at the bottom,” Proud said. “Whether it’s regional or national, I want to walk into the room and all my peers are ready to talk sports everyday.”

In the sports world today, it is very apparent that it is drastically male-dominated. It’s easy to walk into a press conference or locker room and realize how many men are present. Proud recalls these moments even early on in her career.

“I’ve counted on multiple occasions where I’m at a press conference and I look around and realize I’m the only female,” she said. “Although the sport industry is largely males, I feel as though being a female in sports is a great resource. I’m easy to talk to and more personable.”

Proud feels, however, women put a lot of pressure on themselves.

“The toughest part about it all is that it’s all internal. We as women want to be perfect. We work too hard, because we think we have to in order to prove something. I have learned to stop putting that pressure on myself. I have never felt that from my coworkers, and I consider myself lucky.”

Proud laughed as she told a story about walking into a press conference wearing a dress while all the males in the room were wearing khaki pants and polos. She described feeling out of place and a bit of judgment from it.

“It’s the creepiness of it all. Even wearing red lipstick, people will make comments about how dressed up you are. I had so many people walk up to me and ask why I was dressed all fancy, but the fact of the matter was I didn’t have time to change before I anchored right afterwards,” she said. “The more you are in the field, the more aware you are of it.”

She hopes girls who want to work in sports one day take a moment to appreciate the time they are in.

“I wish I could go back and shake myself and tell myself to breathe,” Proud smiled. “I never took a moment to breathe. I graduated on a Friday and started a new job the following Monday. College students have it made because people want to help you. Don’t be afraid to send that email or text.”

Proud grinned as she talked about what Music City meant to her.

“Nashville isn’t just football. It’s college sports, it’s basketball, it’s hockey. They bring people together. It’s a big city with a small city feel. We experienced resilience when the tornado hit and then coronavirus came right afterwards. We had people who were turned away to help with tornado damage because too many people showed up. That doesn’t happen, you know? It’s those moments that make you appreciate your city more, and that’s what Nashville is to me.”

You can hear Emily Proud talk Titans training camp on the latest Thursday episode of the 615 Sessions on the A to Z Sports Podcast Network.

Featured image via Emily Proud

Over the next several weeks Laura Privott, of A to Z Sports, will feature women from across Nashville’s sports media.