The University of Kentucky athlete facing arguably the busiest 2019 off-season began it by making history on Wednesday.
Katie Reed became the first UK softball player to win a Senior CLASS Award, which goes to one senior in the nation in each sport who has made notable achievements in four areas: community, classroom, character and competition. She was only the second UK athlete to win the award, following baseball player Troy Squires last year.
Reed expects to be in Chicago on Sunday to finalize a contract to play for the Chicago Bandits of the National Softball League. The team’s first game is Thursday of next week (or 12 days after UK’s season ended in a super regional loss to Washington).
Her season with the Bandits will be abbreviated when she leaves the team in August to enter dental school at the University of Pittsburgh.
“I guess I could be all around the Midwest this summer,” she said cheerily Tuesday while en route to a quick family visit in her hometown of St. Louis.
When asked why she wanted to play for the Bandits rather than take a break from softball, Reed said, “It’s a fun opportunity. Not many players get the opportunity to continue their softball careers. I love the game, and I love playing. And this is the only summer I could do it because once I start school I’ll be in class during the summers.
“If I have the opportunity to play a little longer, you know, why not?”
Reed likes to joke that softball is in her blood. She said her parents met while playing competitive slow-pitch softball. She started playing at age 3. “And I’ve been playing ever since,” she said. “I just love to compete. I love the game. It’s tough, and it’s a game of failure. But it makes the successes so much sweeter.”
Reed capped her four seasons at UK by being named to the Southeastern Conference all-defensive team at shortstop. She was the SEC’s Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2018 and 2019.
Reed attributed her overall 4.0 grade-point average to knowing she needed excellent grades in order to pursue a career in medicine. She also mentioned another factor.
“I have a perfectionist personality,” she said.
While softball was a natural, almost inevitable fit, Reed needed time to warm up to dentistry. She said taking strong antibiotics to combat pneumonia as a child weakened her baby teeth and necessitated many visits to a dentist.
“I had to get nitrous gas” to endure each trip to the dentist, she said, “I would just freak out.”
She changed dentists between her freshman and sophomore years at UK.
“That totally changed my perspective,” she said. “One of my goals is I don’t want anyone to have a bad experience like I had.”
Reed has an idea of where she’d like to set up her dental practice.
“I want to serve in under-served areas,” she said. “I’d really like to travel to third-world countries once I’m stable and have resources.”