TGW: XC-curity

The Good Word
By Jon Cooper

Technology advances, seemingly daily, making commonplace the kinds of innovations that once seemed only the stuff of science fiction.

However, with these advances, especially on the Internet, come those with more selfish motives, looking for shortcuts to circumvent technology for their own gain.

Mary Prouty doesn’t take shortcuts, never has and has no use for those that do — be it competitively on cross country courses and on the track or on the technology superhighway.

Prouty dedicated part of her summer to that end, doing research in Bozeman, Montana, as part of an RU program at Montana State University with the endgame being making it game over for hackers.

“I was working on site security and mapping, like attacks that people use to hack into computers to software weaknesses,” said the Charlotte, N.C., native, who is on course to graduate with a degree in computer science in the spring. “I was using a Java program to do this mapping. I have experience there.

“It was really great,” she added. “One thing I learned was the importance of prioritizing, like how you handle technical debt, which basically means looking at different pieces of software, that could cause culpability and maintainability issues in the future and making sure that those are in place so that your code can be used by people as your systems continue to evolve.”

It’s complicated but work Prouty enjoys delving into.

“I am looking into working in the industry when I graduate, as like a software engineer or developer,” she said. “I do like coding in Java, so that would be ideal. I’m also interested in networks so coding in Java with network-related aspects would be cool.

“It’s very important,” she added. “Being aware of it is crucial so you can put those security implementations in place, that you can protect vulnerable data.”

As Prouty finishes up her academic career — she has 13 credit hours in the fall and 11 in the spring — she is as intent on putting a nice bow on her running career. She got off to a great start, finishing second in the Bulldog Invitational (20:27.1), while helping the Yellow Jackets, who had seven runners finish in the top nine, win the event, finishing at 1:44:18.30, more than a minute better than host, No. 19 Georgia.

“It was so exciting. I’m just so happy with our team and how much depth we have,” said Prouty, who led Georgia Tech in its season-opening event for the second time in her four years and finished in the top five for the third time. “It’s great to see what direction our team is headed. All of us working together, right now we’re running really, really well but I can’t even imagine next year how much the team will improve.”

Head coach Alan Drosky doesn’t have to imagine how Prouty has improved. He’s seen it and been impressed by it.

“What impresses me the most about Mary is how competitive she is,” said Drosky. “But you have to get to know her to see it. She is pretty quiet and unassuming. She’s not real vocal about what she is going to do in a race, but there is pretty high level of competitiveness simmering underneath. As a teammate I’m impressed with how supportive she is, she’s going to be there for her teammates on the good days and the bad.”

That was never more obvious than on Sept. 8 at the Bulldog Invitational.

“There’s been a lot of moments during her career that give you a glimpse into who Mary is, but in Athens as she prepared for the race, I crossed paths with her and asked her if she was ready to start her senior campaign,” Drosky recalled. “She smiled and gave me two thumbs up, saying “I am! I’m a little nervous, but I’m excited!” It was so genuine. Like most student-athletes, Mary has had her share of ups and downs during her career. For her to have such excitement heading into her last year really told me she’s in a good place.”

She’s determined to lead the Jackets to a really good place.

“We all really want to go to Nationals,” she said. “I feel like we can place in the top five in the conference, too. So those are some of my goals. Personally, time wise, I’d like to go 20:15 in the 6K.”

Prouty is following in her father’s footsteps — Clint also ran track and cross country at Georgia Tech from 1983-86.

“He was really excited when he realized that I was seriously considering Tech because he didn’t really push for it originally,” she recalled. “It was more when he thought I was genuinely interested that he pushed for it more. So that was cool coming to it sort of on my own but sort of with his help.”

While she’s her own person, she admits that she is not her dad — although Drosky jokes that there is at least one aspect in which he wishes she were.

“Coach Drosky is always joking with me, ‘How come you don’t have your dad’s finishing speed?’” she said, with a laugh. “I’m like, ‘I’m working on it.’”

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