Longhorn Hall of Honor: Eileen Vanisi
Nov. 16, 2010
Growing up, Eileen Vanisi had no idea her skills could lead to a free college education. The word "scholarship" wasn't part of her vocabulary.
"I had no idea I could get a free education through athletics," Vanisi says. "When I found out, I said, `What do you mean? And how do I sign up?'"
Like so many of her high school peers, Vanisi knew about The University of Texas. "Texas," she says, "was always on my mind. And always in my heart."
A prolific high school shot putter and discus thrower, Vanisi was highly recruited by many colleges. She signed with the Longhorns without even taking a recruiting visit. She already had a vision for where she was going. Texas track and field coach Terry Crawford knew exactly what she was getting in Vanisi.
Vanisi claimed eight All-America honors during her career in Austin. She never finished lower than sixth at a NCAA Championship meet. In conference competition, she won eight SWC titles - four in the discus and four in the shot put.
"I had no idea what track could do for me," Vanisi says. "The track stuff came easy for me."
Vanisi was motivated by the rich legacy of talent that came before her at Texas. Initially, after watching the 1985-86 UT women's basketball team go undefeated and win the national title, her dream was to play basketball.
Track, though, was her true calling, and national championships provide the perfect bookends to Vanisi's time on the Forty Acres.
"Psychologically, I was much better prepared for my senior season," Vanisi says. "I just had this desire to recapture that championship and get back to No. 1. I had to dig deep to keep going and find a way to motivate myself.
"They taught us about the women athletes who came before us and what sacrifices they made. I had so much respect for what happened before me. I knew I had the talent and skill, and that I just needed to do the work to make it all worthwhile."
Though proudly rooted in the Lone Star State, Vanisi took her competitive acumen across the country and won bronze medals at the 1995 USA Indoor and Outdoor Track Championships and the 1997 USA Indoor Championships.
Vanisi received her kinesiology degree in 1995 and resides in Euless, Texas. She works in the aviation industry.