South Euclid native Jason Pryor, 28, is on his way to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil to compete in the fencing competition on August 9.
A 2008 graduate of Brush High School, Jason was encouraged by his parents Brenda and Eric from a very young age to try new activities with passion and purpose. “My parents always encouraged me to go for what I wanted to do and experience new things like travel, music, culture, food,” said Pryor. “They always encouraged me that if I wanted to pursue something, I should go for it.”
His dedication to commitment to success has made him the Number One Fencer in the United States and the only member of the U.S. Team that will compete in this year’s summer games. Recently, Pryor also won the bronze at the 2015 Pan American Games and last year upset France’s Gauthier Grumier, the world’s No. 1 ranked fencer at a competition in Doha, Qatar.
Pryor grew up on Stillmore Road in South Euclid with his siblings Jarod, 30 and Taryn, 26 in a home where his parents, Brenda & Eric still reside. After graduating from Brush High School in 2005, he attended Ohio State University where he led their fencing team to the NCAA championships. Pryor got his start in fencing at a young age, which led him to winning the Bronze Medal as a cadet at the 2003 nationals. “I had to chase the feeling of what it was to win all those bouts and stand on the podium.”
Pryor has spent the last six years as a full-time resident athlete at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and is currently training for the Rio Olympics at the New York Athletic Club, where he has helped the club win four team championships.
Even though Pryor has always had an interest in fencing, he has also pursued many other interests, including music and writing. At Brush High School he played Sax in the Marching Band and Clarinet in the Concert Band. At Ohio State University, Jason earned a BA in English and plans on pursuing a career in writing screenplays for movies and television after retiring from fencing. He credits his English teachers at Brush for encouraging him to pursue writing.
“I had some of the most amazing teachers in all subjects, but my favorite teachers were my English teachers,” said Pryor. “The incredible length my teachers went to show me how amazing literature could be started me on the path to wanting to write screenplays.”
Pryor sees the connection between athletics, academics and being successful in a chosen career. They all require a dedication and commitment to practice, training and perfecting technique. “You really need to dedicate an incredible amount of time to the details to getting what you want and always pushing towards the next goal,” said Pryor.
“I was a mediocre fencer when I was a teenager and over the years I’ve had to work hard in order to raise my game, climb the ranks and start jumping hurdles and obstacles that seemed impossible,” said Pryor. “Having that knowledge that I can achieve in one of the most difficult sports has helped shaped my attitude that, if I work hard I can achieve success in the future.”
Another correlation between preparing for athletics and achieving other life goals is being prepared mentally and emotionally for whatever obstacles lie ahead and learning how not to let negative thoughts get in the way of achieving success whether in preparing for competition, job interview or pursuing future career goals.
“I allow my mind to experience negative thoughts, but then I imagine myself writing the negativity on the piece of paper and then I imagine burning the piece of paper and dismissing it,” said Pryor.
After the Olympics, Jason has no intention of retiring from competition and hopes to compete in the next Olympic Games in four years. However, he will also spend more time following his passion for writing and pursuing a career in television and filmmaking, having already written television pilots and screenplays for film. Whatever comes his way, Pryor is willing to putting in whatever time and effort it takes to be successful.
“I have an incredibly long and intense amount of focus,” said Pryor. “It’s not a question of whether or not I will succeed because the level of stress I have had as a competitive athlete and learning how to deal with that stress, makes anything else feel like child’s play.”–Reprinted with permission from South Euclid Magazine.