Lana Reed balances National Guard responsibilities with life as a two-sport athlete

Lana Reed balances National Guard responsibilities with life as a two-sport athlete

Lana Reed has about as full a slate as a college freshman can have.

Not only is she a member of the Three Rivers softball and basketball teams, but she serves in the National Guard, too, while still having to complete at least 12 credit hours to stay academically eligible to play sports.

Those obligations result in minimal free time for Reed, and maximum adaptation for her coaches. One weekend a month, she goes to drill for the National Guard, which sometimes falls on game days. This season, Reed has been forced to miss three basketball games due to her National Guard requirements, but her coaches know it’s obligatory.

“When it comes to the National Guard, (the coaches) understand that if I have to do it, then I have to do it,” Reed said. “They’re very understanding, which makes it so much easier to not have to stress about if they’ll be mad because I’m missing this or that.”

With Reed having times where she can’t participate in games or practice, her coaches have to adapt, working to get her back up to speed in practice when they prepare for the next game.

“The challenging part of that is the new stuff you put in on the days she’s not there,” Three Rivers basketball coach Jeff Walk said. The good thing about Lana is she’s a quick study. You don’t have to show her more than once or twice, so she picks stuff up really well or really quick.”

Walk said he admires Reed because it’s rare for a freshman to take on the level of responsibility that comes with being a two-sport athlete and joining the military.

“There’s not many 18, 19-year-old kids that can handle that kind of pressure because that’s pressure. We think we put pressure on them, but you go through basic training, that’s pressure,” Walk said. “We did a push-up test back in the fall, and she blew everybody else out of the water.

“We kind of laughed and I said, ‘Well how many did you do this summer?’ and she made the comment, ‘Coach, I can’t count that high.’”

Oftentimes Reed has to make it to both basketball and softball practices back-to-back, but when she has extended breaks from softball in the offseason, she doesn’t lose her touch.

“To be honest with you, she’s just pretty dang talented,” Three Rivers softball coach Jeff Null said. “Once basketball season started, she took a break from softball and of course was focusing on that. We had a fun little home run derby, and she hadn’t picked up a bat in a month and she comes out and wins our home run derby. That’s how talented she is.”

From Walk’s perspective, Reed’s work ethic shows the potential that kids have when they reach that level of determination.

“It gives you hope. Every older generation says that the new generation of kids isn’t tough and they don’t do what it takes, but she’s showing that it can be done because she is tough,” Walk said. “It gives me hope — being later in my career — that the kids are still willing to put forth the effort and get the job done.”

Reed’s decision to join the military was both academic and family related. Her brother Josh Speer joined the Army, and Reed said he seemed to enjoy his time there. Additionally, if she goes to a four-year college and doesn’t get a full-ride like she has at Three Rivers, all of her tuition will be paid while she gets paid for drill and gets a GI Bill.

“My brother was in the Army and he seemed to like it a lot. And I didn’t want to just jump straight into the Army. I wanted to be able to do the National Guard because I’ll be able to get paid while I go to college,” Reed said. “And it’s just working one weekend a month, so it’s nothing major to do to get paid for while I go to college.”

Reed loves both basketball and softball. She primarily went to college to play softball, but she chose Three Rivers because it was a place that allowed her to play both sports instead of having to choose between them.

“I’ve always liked basketball, too, but I mean I really came (to Three Rivers) for softball,” Reed said. “Since I had the opportunity to play both here I took it because I probably wouldn’t get this opportunity anywhere else.”

Having to juggle all of her responsibilities can be stressful for Reed. Some days she’ll have to go to class in the morning, basketball and softball practices in the afternoon and do homework at night, leaving little free time once her obligations are finished. Because of this, she has to find a way to balance all of it to keep the stress from piling on. She usually keeps a schedule to know what she has planned and how to manage her time since her practices are usually at fixed times with basketball going until around 3 p.m. and softball until around 6 p.m.

“How many hours does she have to be a kid in a 24-hour time frame?” Walk said. “There’s not a lot there. She’s going to do OK in the classroom. She’s a smart kid, but at that age, the ‘me time’ is probably more important than any aspect of her whole daily routine. What does she do to unwind? I don’t have any idea. I don’t know if I could do it.”

For Reed, part of the way she unwinds is the change of scenery she gets from each practice or game.

“It’s like a different environment around different people,” she said. “It’s not just the same people all the time, so I get a break. If I go to softball, I get a break from basketball. It’s not so much all at once. It’s just a totally different environment being inside in the gym with that type of crowd versus outside in who knows what type of weather with different types of crowds. It’s different, but I love it.”


Nate Fields - Daily American Republic