Mackenzie Reed has never shied away from a challenge.
Reed is a senior at Archbishop Ryan High School and for the last three years, she’s been one of the best field hockey players in the Catholic League.
It’s not easy for a city girl to be recognized as one of the top players in a sport that is always dominated by the teams in the suburbs, but Reed forced other coaches to vote her on the prestigious team because of the way she plays.
“I remember at the end of my freshman year, other coaches, the ones from the suburbs, would come up to me and ask me where I played before,” said Reed, who played a few seasons at C.C.A. Baldi Middle School and before that played foot hockey in a co-ed league. “It was a lot different because in field hockey, you can’t use both sides of the stick and it’s a lot different playing on grass, but I learned it pretty quickly.
“When I was a freshman, I was pretty nervous because I was going up against girls who were so good and we had a lot of good players. I played a little bit at the end of the season, and by the end, I was getting time. I was nervous when I was (going against) some of the great players, but that’s how I got better.”
She certainly did.
Reed ended her career by leading the Ragdolls to the playoffs in each of her seasons there. She also scored 51 career goals, including 17 this year. It’s believed she has the school record for career tallies.
Reed has excelled in field hockey, but she didn’t focus on one sport. In fact, she plays one sport every season.
During the winter, Reed has been a starter on the Ragdolls’ basketball team and in the spring, she’s been a member of the very successful Ryan softball team.
Her first two years at the school, she was a guard, but last year the team needed some muscle underneath, so the 5-foot-4 athlete moved to power forward and at times, center.
Believe it or not, that strength came from growing up with siblings, that include sisters Kate, 30, and Nicole, 26, and brothers Chris, 21, and Sean, who is a sophomore at Ryan.
“Honestly, growing up I think I got tougher because of my siblings,” Reed said. “We toughened each other up. We’re all so close. We are a very big, competitive family. My dad played football, basketball and baseball (at Olney). My mom went to Washington, she ran track.”
The family has always been a cohesive unit, but they grew even closer last year when Reed’s mom got cancer. After a four-month battle, she passed away.
“I know I wouldn’t be the person I was without my mom,” Reed said. “She was proud of me. We were close as a family, but after that, we got even closer.”
Even when she was sick, mom made sure to support her daughter. Reed, who did her best to help out around the house, was willing to give up playing field hockey, but after counseling with mom, she decided to play. She was still always there to help when needed.
“I was worried because they needed me, but also because of COVID, I thought I wouldn’t play,” Reed recalled. “But we decided I needed to. It would be best for me.”
Like her siblings and father, mom was a huge fan of her daughter’s game. She also loved spending time together, and sometimes mom just needed her daughter.
“I think she liked having me there because my two older sisters don’t live at home, so when she needed someone, when she needed a girl, I was there,” Reed said. “My brothers were there, too, they helped. I think we grew a lot closer as a family. All of us. My mom would definitely love that.”
Reed also proved to be a great caretaker when needed. And it helped her with the future.
The honor student plans on playing field hockey in college and she’s eyeing a career in either nursing or occupational therapy.
“I got into nursing because of my mom, I took care of her, I can work with other people that were sick,” said Reed, who is also a member of Athletes Helping Athletes at the school. “I could handle it. Occupational therapy, I love the medical field and I love to help someone. I have the patience. You’re helping someone that was in a car accident and lost feeling, you’re helping them regain what they need. Either of those jobs, you’re helping people. I want to do something where I can help people.”
She has that attitude when she’s playing sports, too.
It’s why she is a captain on both the field hockey and basketball teams.
She’s also responsible for helping her novice teammates on the field hockey team become better players. She understands how some girls are intimidated when playing against the top teams in the Catholic League, but she always reassures them that they’re great athletes, too.
She’s proud of how far they’ve come.
“Sometimes in practice when we’re doing drills, some girls won’t be as confident, but they’re all good,” Reed said. “You get better by playing against better players. It’s how I got better and it’s how they’re getting better.
“I hope they learned a lot from me, I wanted to be a good leader to them. And they all got better. We had a great season. I think they’re going to be good next year, too. We were a great team. We were a small team, but we were a good team that was more like a family.”