Photo courtesy of ISI Photos
KATHERINE REYNOLDS EXEMPLIFIES HARD WORK AND DETERMINATION
Grit: perseverance, self-discipline, determination. It's what separates the best from the rest. It's what defines professional soccer player, and St. Thomas School alumna, Katherine Reynolds. Like many STS graduates, Reynolds believes the School's high standards helped develop her grit, preparing her for success both on and off the soccer field. "They taught you how to work hard and always do your best," she says.
Reynolds remembers her time at St. Thomas School fondly, reminiscing on good friendships, challenging projects, and memorable experiences such as the Sixth Grade trip to Washington D.C.
One of the most challenging, and rewarding, projects she remembers was writing a 100-page report on gorillas in the Third Grade. Reynolds says it was a favorite project of hers and something she still shows friends to this day. The fascination she developed for gorillas as a result has remained, and on a recent family trip to Rwanda, Reynolds was able to go gorilla trekking, an experience she cherishes.
The rigorous demands of school continued, as did Reynold's tenacity. In Fourth Grade, she received an assignment from Mrs. Hand (Dodee Hand) to write and deliver a 20-minute speech as a famous historical figure of her choice. Inspired by a backpacking trip to the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Reynolds chose John Muir.
Reynolds had great relationships with all her teachers, but cites Mrs. Hand as the most influential. "She was one of those teachers that was strict but also very caring and really took time to ensure every student was developing, understanding, and learning," she says. Reynolds kept in touch with Mrs. Hand after St. Thomas School and would cross paths with her during the summer when she would run through the neighborhood.
The School's approach to personalized learning also had an impact on Reynolds. She believes the individual attention she received by way of small class sizes was instrumental in preparing her for the challenges of higher education and beyond. "I always felt comfortable with asking my teachers for one-on-one support and further explanation. They encouraged me to be my own advocate," she says. The grit and determination Reynolds developed in the classroom also helped propel her soccer career.
She remembers countless hours of training – the type of player who asked her coach to stay after practice so she could continue to perfect her skills. "There was never a day I didn't want to play soccer," she says.
Reynolds started playing when she was only 4 years old, but it wasn't until the U.S. Women's National Team won the World Cup in 1999 that she was inspired to play soccer at the highest level possible. "I dreamed of that being me one day," she vividly recalls.
Reynolds' dream began to take shape during her senior year of college at Santa Clara University when the Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) League was formed. It was then she realized she had an opportunity to play professionally. Since that spark of inspiration, Reynolds' career as a professional soccer player has taken her all over the U.S. and even around the world to play for different teams. Her last trade brought her back to the Pacific Northwest to play as a defender for the Portland Thorns of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL). "Playing in Portland is a dream come true. The fans, the stadium, and the community are amazing," she says.
Reynolds is not one to shy away from a challenge. In addition to playing professional soccer, she balances a job at WE, a public relations firm in Portland, where she is focused on technology clients in the cloud computing space. She juggles working part-time during the season and full-time in the off-season. Reynolds is also recently engaged and excited about planning her wedding and future.
When asked what reinforces her incredible drive and determination, Reynolds said, "You just have to work hard, figure out what you're passionate about, and go after your goals and dreams."
The Portland Thorns will host the Orlando Pride for the NWSL semifinal match on Sunday, October 7.
Update: Katherine Reynolds and the Portland Thorns defeated the Orlando Pride 4-1 in the NWSL semifinal. They will face the North Carolina Courage in the NWSL Championship match on October 14.