By LARRY VAUGHT
As good as all-SEC senior shortstop Katie Reed is on the field for Kentucky, she might be even better off the field. She has a perfect 4.0 grade-point average to go along with a .340 career batting average and almost .970 fielding average.
Reed was the 2018 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year and an Academic All-American — she’s never made a B at UK. She’s already been accepted into the University of Pittsburgh’s dental school.
Coach Rachel Lawson says she’s “scary smart.” Catcher Jenny Schaper, a long-time friend, says Reed is the smartest person she knows.
“I just have a perfectionist personality. I have always been like that,” said Reed. “My parents put a big focus on academics. Going to college the ultimate goal is to get your degree. Being able to play Division I softball is a plus, but academics has always been first for me. We have the resources, tutors, advisors to help with anything you need here.
“I do have to study a lot. It doesn’t come naturally. I push myself really hard in the classroom. I strive for an A in every class but the important thing is learning and gaining the knowledge in every class. Making A’s meant a little more to me because I knew I would be applying for dental school and it is so competitive to get in. I just like learning, going to class and enjoying school.”
Then she laughed, paused and added, “I do like making A’s, too. I guess I am a little competitive on that, too.”
She’s known for a “long time” that she wanted to go into the medical field when her softball career ended. Her sophomore year at UK she “shadowed” former UK pitcher Rachel Riley, who was working in a private dental practice in Lexington. She also shadowed a dentist when she went home to St. Louis that summer.
“It just felt like the perfect fit for me and my personality,” Reed said.
Same with the mission trip she took to Ethiopia with Schaper and other UK student-athletes last summer. Coach Rachel Lawson nominated Reed and Schapper for selection.
“It’s incredible that our athletics department can do something like that and take student-athletes there who probably would never experience anything like that otherwise. I am just thankful I got to be part of that amazing experience,” Reed said. “We helped out with different ministries, visited orphanages. Everyone there was so happy and it changed my perspective on life. It has made me appreciative of all we have because they don’t have the same luxuries in other countries that we do. They are just happy for what they have and here we lose track of that sometimes. It was very eye-opening, very heartwarming.”