Fresh off milestone win, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga softball coach Frank Reed still ‘insane’ for success

Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / UTC head softball coach Frank Reed recently celebrated his 1,200th career victory. Though the Mocs have gotten off to a so-so start to the 2024 season, their coach remains optimistic about future success.
Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / UTC head softball coach Frank Reed recently celebrated his 1,200th career victory. Though the Mocs have gotten off to a so-so start to the 2024 season, their coach remains optimistic about future success.

With win number 1,200 of his career officially in the rear-view mirror, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga softball head coach Frank Reed had his mind on other things.

A day before beating Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 4-2 for the landmark victory, Reed and a number of UTC administrators and personnel traveled to Knoxville for the visitation after the passing of Charlee Blackburn, the 14-year old daughter of former UTC athletic director David Blackburn.

Charlee was an eighth-grader at Indian Trail Middle School in Johnson City, where her father has served as the director of football operations at East Tennessee State since 2022. She was a cheerleader as well as a softball player, which hit close to home for Reed as he noted that when he got there, all of Charlee's softball gear from her last practice was spread out at the viewing.

Her softball number 10 was on dispay, which was Reed's number as well as the jersey number of both of his daughters as well as his granddaughter.

"I felt like I needed to be there and I knew why when I got there," Reed, who dedicated his 1,200th win to Charlee, said. "There were so many people there, out the door.

"Some things are just more important."

Reed is 725-528 in his 23 seasons at UTC, following a 476-87 run in 10 years at Chattanooga State. The Mocs are off to a decent start this year, with a 9-7 record after Sunday's 2-0 loss to UT-Martin capped off a 2-3 week in the Frost Classic. The Mocs were 5-0 in the Chattanooga Classic last week and had a mid-week win over Jacksonville State on Feb. 21.

"He's definitely insane — a psychopath level of, I mean, you do the same thing over and over and over again," senior Kaili Phillips recently said of a key to Reed's success. "But you can walk out into the facility and see this success around the wall."

It's also been a team that's dealt with having to adjust on the fly. Boyd Buchanan product Presley Williamson was lost before the season ever began with an injury, and then Baylor graduate Acelynn Sellers was banged up and missed the past week.

"I'm not worried," Reed said. "I see some really bright spots on the team and we're better than we were this time last year, but we'll figure it out. I just think we need to develop some consistency, that when we get a win we build off of it. Since Acelynn left the lineup, we're still getting the hits but we're not getting a lot of the timely hits."

Everyone will have different opions of how Reed views the regular season, which he prefers to approach as a buildup for the Southern Conference tournament and not stress the wins and losses. Since winning the regular-season and tournament championships in 2015, the Mocs are 24 games below .500 and haven't won a regular-season title since then, after winning eight regular-season titles in his first 14 years.

But also, the Mocs have won two SoCon tournament titles since then, in 2019 and 2022.

"Everyday you get a little bit better," former Ooltewah standout Addy Keylon said recently. "I think the more we push ourselves in the weight room, conditioning and on the field and we get a little bit better, we'll be fine. We could lose games in a row, but as long as we know what to work on the next day of practice or know what to improve on and still have that team dynamic and that energy and the hype, we still win the day even if we take a loss."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com.

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