For Katie Reagan, playing softball at Penn was a long time in the making.
Reagan, a freshman for Penn softball, comes from a background of athletic success. The Glenn Dale, Md. native was a three-sport athlete in high school. Reagan lettered all four years in both softball and volleyball while also lettering three years in basketball.
Her athletic success can also be traced back to her family tree. Her mother played collegiate softball at Akron, and her father has a long history in coaching college football, including two stints as an assistant coach at Penn.
Although she was successful in each of the sports she pursued in high school, Reagan always knew that softball was the one sport she wanted to take to the next level.
“I started playing travel softball when I was seven,” Reagan said. “From there on, it wasn't pressured to me, but I always knew I wanted to just do it. Throughout all these sports I played, I always knew softball was my number one sport and that would take priority.”
Reagan also knew early on that Penn was her dream destination for when it became time to take her softball career to the collegiate level. Her dad’s first coaching stint at Penn, which started when Reagan was in seventh grade, allowed her the unique opportunity to be around the campus she now calls home.
“The time spent on campus when I was there kind of gave her a familiarity with the campus and the environment that is hard to get any other way than by kind of living it,” her father said.
Living the Penn experience, along with the strong connection she developed with Penn’s softball coaching staff, helped Reagan to decide that Penn was the place for her.
“I really fell in love with the coaching staff for softball,” Reagan said. “I was like, ‘if I can make it work, this is where I want to play softball, and this is what I want to do.’”
Playing college softball at Penn has allowed Reagan to do something she has never fully had the opportunity to do before: focus solely on a single sport and her teammates in that sport.
“I never have had practice every day, lift every day, and I actually love it,” Reagan said. “It’s so nice to always have a structure in my day.”
At the same time, being a part of Penn’s softball team has provided Reagan with support during the transition to life as a student-athlete in the Ivy League. This support has been even more important with the many ways that COVID-19 has complicated this process.
“It’s also really nice because I have this team, and I’m with my teammates during these practices, and I’m able to develop such a nice bond with them,” Reagan said. “And they’ve been so helpful, with COVID, just trying to make us feel comfortable as freshmen.”
While it would be easy to focus on the many athletic accomplishments that Reagan brings with her to Penn’s campus, there is another notable experience that has helped prepare Reagan for life as an Ivy student-athlete. This past summer, she interned with NASA, working alongside another intern to conduct research and present data findings.
“The internship I got was with the urban sustainability department,” Reagan said. “[Our mentor] was creating a sustainability index to see how sustainable different cities were, and our role was to do the research.”
At Penn, Reagan plans to major in philosophy, politics, and economics with a concentration in distributive justice and hopes to eventually attend law school. Though an internship at NASA may not directly line up with a trajectory toward law school, Reagan’s experience allowed her to develop a relevant career and academic skill: research.
“Having that research experience and being able to show what research I did has been so helpful for me,” Reagan said. “I really think that the actual internship and what I had to do for the internship will help me a ton [in terms of] the research end of it.”
Reagan’s path to Penn has been clearer than that of most athletes. Her Penn story started years before she signed her offer letter, and it has only begun. For her family, it has been special watching this dream turn into reality.
“[We’re] so excited to see her actually — instead of chase a dream — start living it,” John said.
With Penn moved into Ivy Phase IV regarding its athletics programs, Penn softball is now able to take the field for local matchups against teams like St. Joseph’s and Villanova. The decision will allow Reagan to officially start the Penn softball career she has always dreamed of.