By David Mullen
Years ago, I remember local attorney Mike Read and wife Donna beaming about their daughter like any proud parents would. They were sure that the eldest of their two girls, Kaitlyn, was destined to be a great basketball player.
They were right.
In March, Highland Park High School alumna Kaitlyn Read won the 2018 Jostens Trophy, which is awarded to the top NCAA Division III basketball player in the country. At New York University (NYU), where she starred on the women’s basketball team, she became the number two all-time scorer, number one all-time leader in assists and number two in steals in school history and was a first team All-American.
The affable Read was 5-foot 7-inches by the time she was graduating from Hyer Elementary School in University Park, which directed her toward basketball at an early age. Ironically, the shooting guard never grew taller than 5-foot 8-inches.
“It’s funny because when I received the [Jostens] award,” Read said, “I had to give a speech and I talked about not really having a first basketball memory. All of my teammates remember their first games. I do remember playing in YMCA games in my green, high-top Converse. I was very tall for my age, so basketball just kind of came naturally to me. I come from a competitive family, and when I found out I was good at it, I liked it.”
Read, now 23, was a top player at Highland Park when she was discovered by the women’s basketball coaching staff at NYU. “Have you ever been to Highland Park?” said Read with a laugh. “I am really into government and politics, and in Highland Park it is ‘what you see is what you get.’ I really wanted a culture shock. I wanted to be thrown into more diversity, but I didn’t know how I was going to respond. I didn’t want to go to UT or A&M, not because they aren’t great schools because they are, but I just wanted to see something different than what I grew up around.”
She wasn’t even sure that she was going to play basketball in college. “NYU went to see the point guard on my summer team, and they said ‘why don’t you come to New York for a visit?’ I just fell in love with the city and the independent nature of it all. I just thought it was the city for me. It was very cool.” She did admit that she wanted to use her basketball skills to get into a good school, preferably out of state. “It could have been in Georgia or in D.C.,” Read said. “It didn’t really matter. NYU wasn’t ever on the map before they approached me.”
Aware that a Division III school is often more about academics than sports, Read felt she could study while playing a sport that she loved. Read completed her undergraduate work with a double major in politics and Spanish. “My dad probably told you about that,” Read said. “In Texas, there are a ton of Spanish speakers, and language is a challenge to me. Plus it is a nice way to order a margarita and some queso.”
Read is now in graduate school at NYU seeking a master’s degree in global affairs with a concentration in transnational security. She lives in midtown Manhattan near Herald Square with two ex-teammates. But her best friend is just a few miles away, also attending NYU and playing basketball. It is her younger sister Mikaela.
Read was injured during her senior year just prior to her college eligibility expiring, which allowed her to play in 2017-18. Typically called redshirting, “In Division III, it is called ‘hard-shipping,’” Read said. The extra year allowed her to team with Mikaela. Kaitlyn was the University Athletic Association’s (UAA) most valuable player, defensive player of the year and led the association in scoring average (19.9 points per game) and steals (3.8 steals per game).
Currently, her NYU jersey is hanging in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn. in an exhibit featuring the best women’s collegiate players in the country. She is considering playing some level of professional basketball at the urging of her parents. “They [her parents] do live a little vicariously through me. But I do love the sport of basketball.”
Read sees herself remaining on the East Coast, “But I will always be a Texan,” she said. “And I love Tex-Mex.” Now she can order it in two languages, but she needs to be careful not to double dribble the queso.