Raigan Reed had quite the 2019-20 on the basketball court.
The recent Lake Stevens High School graduate averaged 19.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game in leading the Vikings to the Class 4A state regionals, for which she was named The Herald’s Girls Basketball Player of the Year. She’s already on campus at Boise State University, where she will be a freshman on the Broncos’ women’s basketball team.
Yet even in Reed’s mind, her on-court accolades in 2019-20 took a back seat to what she was able to accomplish off it.
Reed made her presence felt beyond the sporting realm, helping organize a George Floyd protest march in Lake Stevens. Reed’s efforts both on and off the basketball court made her The Herald’s 2019-20 Woman of the Year in Sports.
“On the basketball side of things she led by example and rose to the occasion,” Lake Stevens girls basketball coach Randall Edens said. “Over the course of four years you live and learn along the way, and she’s one of those who went through so much to get to the point where she had the type of season she had this year.
“Off the floor, I couldn’t be more proud of her and how she represented the program, herself, the Black Lives Matter movement, the community and everything that entails,” Edens continued. “Ultimately she got information to people who needed to hear it.”
Reed, a 5-foot-7 guard, was a dominator on the court for Lake Stevens. Reed, who has always been a proficient scorer, saw her game evolve this past season as she improved at getting her teammates involved. However, when the Vikings needed it most, the scorer in Reed re-emerged. That was evident late in games against top-notch competition, as she caught fire in the fourth quarters of victories over the likes of Arlington, Edmonds-Woodway and Eastlake.
But it was Reed’s step into the activism realm — she served as one of the leaders of the June 4 protest march in Lake Stevens that came in response to George Floyd’s death while in police custody in Minneapolis — that she described as her crowning achievement in 2019-20.
“I would say the activism (was the bigger deal), honestly,” Reed said via cell phone from Boise, Idaho. “I love basketball, but basketball doesn’t define me as a person. As much as I love basketball, I want to do things to influence our generation. I know I have a strong voice and I can get people to follow me. That’s why leading a protest was a really big deal to me.”
Reed’s path during her high school years wasn’t always a smooth one. Although Reed was a standout basketball player from the time she was a freshman, she had her rocky moments, including being suspended for the start of her junior season for off-court actions. She acknowledged struggling both in school and with mental health at times during her high school years. When things reached their nadir around the time of her suspension, she even considered giving up basketball.
So it was a dramatic transformation going from being the player who was suspended to start her junior season, to the woman holding a megaphone in front of a crowd of hundreds gathered at Lundeen Park, then helping lead the march to Safeway, where the crowd laid down on the pavement for nine minutes to simulate the amount of time an officer knelt on George Floyd’s neck.
“I would have never thought I would ever be where I am right now a year ago,” Reed said. “Getting suspended, that really took a toll on my mental health. That was the icing on the cake for the worst year possible for me. But that really helped me be like, ‘OK, this is what I need to do now.’ When I see girls coming up in basketball and looking up to me, seeing them at my games and me looking back at them from the bench not being able to play, that broke my heart. I think that was probably necessary for me to go through, it taught me how to deal with adversity and overcome real battles. It set me up for a good season.”
Reed found herself reveling in the experience of addressing the crowd at the protest march.
“I kind of got emotional, speaking to that many people about such a sore subject,” Reed said. “I was thinking about my dad and little brothers. It’s so crazy to me that they could be (George Floyd or one of the other Black men killed by law enforcement). That’s what motivated me most, it could happen literally to anyone close to you. That encouraged me to get up there and inspire people.”
Reed’s next chapter is college basketball. The coronavirus pandemic has a cloud of uncertainty hovering over the upcoming season. Reed is on campus at Boise State, where classes began last Monday. However, workouts are currently limited to small groups in the weight room, with no access to the gymnasium yet. Reed said she still doesn’t know when the team will be able to play, though the season probably won’t begin until at least January.
But beyond that, Reed now sees activism as part of her future.
“I really want to be a public speaker,” Reed said. “I have to get better with how I speak, but I would love to inspire people like that.”
Just like she did that June 4 day in Lundeen Park.