For Cokie Reed, watching the Texas A&M women’s basketball squad win this year’s NCAA Championships brought back a feeling she has known since she begun her athletic career — competitiveness.
“It’s a love-hate relationship,” Reed said. “I’m happy for A&M. But anytime your rival wins a championship, and you’re not in it, there’s some animosity.”
Reed, a sophomore post who was sidelined all year with a foot injury, admits she has quite a few connections with A&M but she’s forever a Longhorn at heart.
“I know a lot of girls on the team; I have friends there. I’m happy for them,” Reed said. “But it’s in our blood, as a Longhorn, to not go against A&M.”
After a freshman season for the record books, Reed underwent surgery last October to remove an extra bone and repair a tendon in her right foot.
Texas head coach Gail Goestenkors vowed the team would prevail despite the loss of Reed. But the lack of Reed’s offensive presence and height was apparent, plaguing the Longhorns for much of their season.
While the surgery ultimately benefited Reed, she couldn’t help but feel frustrated with her predicament. For Reed, being simply an observer in an up-and-down season was trying.
“It was tough to be on the sideline injured,” she said. “I just wanted to play, to help them, to make it better. But I couldn’t.”
Instead, Reed made the best of her situation, offering advice to younger players or filming her “Courtside with Cokie” series for the Texas Athletics website.
“I was at every practice; I was there to encourage my team,” the sophomore said. “Courtside with Cokie was a way for me to stay close with the fans and let them know I was still around, even with an injury.”
In the seven months since her surgery, Reed has constantly been rehabilitating her foot. But the desire to get back on the court with her team fuels her focus.
“Not being able to play was motivation in itself for Cokie. She has put in the time and effort to be a dominant player in the Big 12,” said Logan Schwartz, the strength and conditioning coach for the women’s basketball team. “She wants to come back and make up for lost time, and her effort has been unbelievable.”
Schwartz is so impressed, he foresees Reed returning as a true asset to the squad.
“Her attitude and consistency throughout rehab and workouts and her will to help the team leaves no doubt that we’ll see a new Cokie Reed on the court this season,” Schwartz said.
While Reed has yet to get back out to scrimmaging on the hardwood, she realizes it’s a day-to-day process.
As the injury brought change to the busy schedule Reed used to juggle, the post admits she’s had a hard time keeping up with schoolwork.
“It’s definitely backwards,” Reed said. “You’d think not having to practice as much would be good for my grades, but actually, it’s been hard to keep up.”
Even at less than 100 percent, Reed already has a prediction for next season.
“I think our future is bright; we can only go up from here. We’ll be in the top half of the Big 12,” Reed said. “High in the top.”
Reed still has months of rehabilitation to go but she continues to keep the thought of A&M’s championship in the back of her head.
“For them to be our rival and have that national championship, it’s going to make it even more competitive when we play them next year,” she said. “It’s a complete motivator for me.”