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Finding her place: Our Neighbor Christina Edney

By WILLIAM PAINE

william.paine@southwesttimes.com

Christina Edney is a tall, good-looking product of Pulaski County whose charm and sunny attitude become obvious the moment she engages you in conversation. For a woman still in her 20s, Edney has already garnered substantial experience in several occupations.

“People always want to know, ‘What’s your calling?’ Where’s your place?” said Edney. “A lot of people are born knowing that they’re supposed to be a teacher or knowing that they’re supposed to be a nurse, but I’ve never felt that way.”

As it is the case for most any young person (and some older persons) these days, Christina had to find her career path through trial and error.

Growing up in Pulaski, Christina Edney attended Claremont Elementary School.

“Where you grow up is a part of you,” said Edney. “We moved around a little bit and it wasn’t always the best situation. We definitely had some struggles for sure. I grew up in the town of Pulaski and for a long time I really resented the way that I grew up and the houses that I grew up in … and then I got to a point to I really learned to appreciate it and use it as motivation.”

Always having an interest in sports, Christina Edney played center for the Cougar volleyball team at PCHS. She graduated in 2008 and went on to attend Liberty University, where she graduated with a degree in Sports Journalism.

After graduation, Edney took an internship at the TV station WDBJ7 but they didn’t have any paid positions available, so she came back to Pulaski County. She starting working at the Fatz restaurant in Dublin as a waitress and bartender. In time, she received a call from back from WDBJ7 asking if she would be interested in a part time writing position. She said yes and her life suddenly became very busy.

“The commute was not ideal and the hours were kind of rough,” Edney recounted. “At one point I worked part time at Calfee Park when we were the Mariners and I worked part time at Brite Services. So I would get off work at DBJ at seven in the morning and then I would drive home, sleep for a couple of hours and then I would wake up and go to Brite Services for a couple of hours. Then I would go work at Calfee Park, where I would go pour beer for the games. I would get off from the ballpark at 10 o’clock and drive straight to Roanoke and work through the night. Then I would drive home from Roanoke, get a couple of hours of sleep, then go back to Brite and do it all over again.”

Christina Edney began her career at WDBJ7 by writing for their evening news broadcast, but eventually started writing for their two-hour morning show. She spent two and a half years writing for the news station and knew well the many staff who worked there, including reporter Alison Parker and especially cameraman Adam Ward, who she considered a close friend.

In 2015, Christina decided that she wanted to be in front of the camera and began sending resumes to TV stations in Virginia and North Carolina. She began as a full time reporter at WHSV TV3 in Harrisonburg, Virginia, that same year. Not long after, she was promoted to morning anchor and was also given the opportunity to do weekend sports.

“Three months into my time being in Harrisonburg, the shooting with Adam and Alison happened at WDBJ and that kind of turned everything around,” said Christina.

In August 2015, reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were shot dead as she was conducting a live interview. A reporter who was recently fired by the TV station was the shooter. He killed himself shortly after.

“It was awful,” Edney related. “It was a really, really hard time. I really didn’t understand the brevity of life until then.”

The shooting had a profound effect on Christina, which made her reevaluate her career. Though she very much enjoyed many of the feel-good feature stories that she did, other stories were much less appealing to her.

“I covered a lot of car crashes for some reason,” said Edney. “I was told to get sound for an interview. I tried to get whatever I could but the closest to the family you can get is going to be your better interview in the eyes of journalism, so that’s what you go for. I think a lot of times the news can be glorified gossiping of information that maybe isn’t always necessary. Why do we have to shove a camera in a mother’s face who just lost her child in a car crash on 81 to get her reaction? I realized that’s not the person I wanted to be anymore.”

As a TV personality, Christina Edney had what many would consider a dream job, but with the death of Adam and Alison still fresh in her mind, she felt like she needed a change.

“The story that was the final driving force behind me leaving, was a double murder suicide,” said Edney. “It was a domestic dispute and a guy killed his girlfriend with a baseball bat. She was nine months pregnant and the baby didn’t survive and then he killed himself. So that was like the final straw. I love talking to people and getting their stories and writing and video and I’ve always loved that. But unfortunately there’s a lot of bad that goes on. I just realized that I didn’t want to talk about the bad and that wasn’t the industry for me.”

Without securing another job, Edney left her career in TV news and returned to Pulaski County.

“I just took a leap of faith and did a lot of praying,” said Edney.

She found work through a friend at Brick House Pizza in Radford.

“I kind of felt like, ‘Oh my gosh, I was on TV and now I’m making pizzas?’” Edney related.

Even so, Christina Edney kept sending out resumes and networking. Before long, she made contact with Blair Hope, General Manager of the Pulaski Yankees. Hope offered her the Assistant Manager position and Edney gladly accepted.

What does an assistant manager for the Pulaski Yankees do?

“Anything and everything,” said Edney. “You know, helping to manage the interns, helping with the facilities aspect of the ballpark, the operational aspect, making sure that things are running smoothly and people are happy, but sometimes it means sweeping peanuts and cleaning the bathrooms.”

The next year, the General Manager position opened and Christina took that job.

“It’s the same thing except more,” said Edney of the General Manager position. “It’s a great title. It looks good on your resume, but it will humble you very quickly. It doesn’t just mean that you get to sit in an office and talk to the big guys all day. I mean, you’re sweeping peanuts right there alongside the rest of your team and when it’s about to rain you’re pulling the tarp.”

There is also a Public Relations aspect to the General Manager position and the following year, David Hagen, owner of the Pulaski Yankees asked if Edney would be interested in working as the Sports Marketing Director for Shelor which entailed promoting the Yankees and the Motor Mile Speedway. Not surprisingly, she took the job but not long after, a friend told her of an opening as a Multimedia Producer for Radford University. The hours were better and so were the benefits. She took the job at RU.

“It was an opportunity to cover the good stories and not the bad stories,” said Christina. “I definitely like trying to cover all the great things that we have going on at the school and making sure everything looks professional.”

One of her first assignments was an unusual project that involved geophysics students interested in studying ice. Where can one always find ice? The northernmost town in the United States is a good bet.

“We went to Barrow, Alaska, which was insane,” Christina said. “When I got there the temperature, factored in with the wind chill, was negative 62. When I stepped off the plane, it literally took my breath away.”

Christina and her team spent nearly two weeks in a Naval Research Center in Barrow.

“I was really nervous,” said Edney. “I was nervous about flying. I was nervous about being in the cold … I hate the cold. I was nervous about the camera but I really just decided that I don’t ever want to get to a place to where I let my fear stop me from doing something that I might want to do or taking an opportunity that I might want to have. So I said, ‘All right, I’m going with it and we’re gonna see what happens,’ and it was an amazing experience.”

Christina Edney enjoys her new gig at RU and she especially enjoys interacting with young people and “talking to kids like they’re on the same level because I think we are.”

Will she stay in Pulaski? She doesn’t know but likes the way the town seems to be trending.

“A lot of people seem to be really interested in investing in Pulaski,” said Christina. “I think that it’s changing now and I’ve never seen it change like this before and I think it’s really exciting.”

Wherever Christina Edney finds herself, she seems to have found herself.

“Where’s my place?” asked Edney. “I finally just realized that my calling is to be kind to people and to make people feel like they are valued and I can do that if I’m working at a big news station or if I’m working at a pizza place or if I’m a Walmart door greeter. I can do that wherever. So, it’s given me a lot of comfort to realize that my purpose isn’t in my career. My purpose is in how I treat others. I don’t always do a great job at it but I try really hard.”

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