On Take Your Success, I regularly interview top-performing college students to understand how they’re successful, so you can recreate the success in your life. Take what’s helpful, dismiss what’s not!
In high school, Kathryn Reynolds made the game-winning layup in the basketball state championship game as a freshman. Yet, she didn’t peak there.
This week I interviewed Kathryn, who went on to get a basketball scholarship to the University of Iowa, overcome an injury her sophomore season, and then be named team captain as a senior and make it to the NCAA Sweet 16.
Kathryn is also just as impressive in the classroom, where she graduated in three years with a bachelor’s degree in business management. Then her fourth year, and senior season with the Hawkeyes basketball team, she became a law student at Iowa.
Can you imagine juggling both Division I basketball and first-year law school? That’s a crazy and unique experience.
So, to hear more about Kathryn—the first student-athlete interview on Take Your Success—and what you can learn from her college success, read this interview below.
Brian: I know you didn’t wake up one day and luckily be great at basketball. Why did you work so hard in your childhood and high school to reach your goal of being a Division I college basketball player? How did you find and keep that long-term focus?
Kathryn: My parents always let me try new things and were very open to me trying different activities. Sports happened to be an area that I really enjoyed, so the fact that I got to practice basketball, something that I truly had fun doing made it easy to want to work hard. The ultimate reward of getting to play at Iowa and to be a part of such a good team was a tangible reward that made all of the workouts and time spent in the gym very worthwhile.
Brian: Was it hard to mentally adjust from high school—where you were always the best, or one of the best, players on the court—to college where you had to start back over to get playing time?
Kathryn: There is a big jump in the level of play and the amount of learning that goes on in the gym from high school to college. Freshman year was a lot of learning and getting up to the pace of play that goes on at the Division 1 level. It was humbling but also an exciting challenge to try to improve a little more each day.
Brian: What did you learn from missing your sophomore season of basketball with a tough ACL injury in your right knee?
Kathryn: During the time that I was injured I became a student of the game in a new way. I got the opportunity to see things from my coaches’ perspective and really understand how the game works and to understand the specific offenses and defenses that our program uses. Mostly I learned to truly value each second that I got to be on the court once my knee was healed up and was better able to appreciate all of the little things.
Also, a physical injury in sports is just like an obstacle that you face at school or in the workplace. It’s important to have a positive mindset and not to feel sorry for yourself. Instead, I tried to focus attention on how I could improve and be my personal best each day with the limits that were placed. It’s about making the most of a less than ideal situation and using the support systems that are around you in a productive way.
Brian: It’s incredible to me that you were both a Division I athlete and a first-year law student at Iowa. I personally consider both of those responsibilities to be like full-time jobs in the amount of hours required of you each week. What productivity tips do you use to manage your time effectively?
Kathryn: Making a routine and sticking with it was the best way for me to get things done. Classes in the morning, straight to practice, back to class, and then a few hours of homework at night was the daily routine during the season. Once I got in the hang of it, it was second nature and being disciplined in sticking to that routine made balancing the two very manageable.
Brian: Where is your favorite place to study? Why?
Kathryn: I either like to study at my apartment because I have access to everything I need (notes, books, laptop, water, coffee…) and its a quiet place or at the public library here in Iowa City. Both places have a good studying atmosphere.
Brian: You were voted team captain as a senior. What’s your leadership style in the locker room look like? How would you advise other college students who want to lead but don’t know how or where to start?
Kathryn: I’ve always tried to make strong relationships with my teammates and use that as a base for leadership. Using a good balance of trying to lead by example through hard work as well as leading with your voice. Both are important and If people trust you they will be more likely to want to work together with you towards goals. I think the best tip is just to value everyone and what they can bring to add to the ultimate goal of any group, team, or organization.
Brian: What motivates you?
Kathryn: I’ve been really fortunate to have the experiences that I have had thus far and I feel so lucky that it only makes sense to work hard to be thankful for all of those things.
Brian: Can you generally describe law school for undergrad students who are considering whether it is something they want to pursue?
Kathryn: Law school presents a heavier workload in terms of the amount of reading and comprehension that is done compared to undergraduate classes. Professors want you to think critically about the readings each night and come to class prepared to discuss the takeaways from what you read the night before. It’s a fun challenge because everyone is trying to stimulate the conversations intellectually and it really makes you think harder than you have had to in the past.
Brian: Do you know what kind of law you want to practice? Why?
Kathryn: I am not certain what area of law I want to go into so I am going to take a wide variety of classes the next couple of years to get exposed to many things and see where my interests are.
It’s clear in the interview that Kathryn found a schedule and study environment that works for her. She exemplifies how powerful mapping out a day is for productivity.
Second, her positive mindset shined through in basically every answer. When talking about how she felt about her injury she said she learned to value and appreciate the little things. Kathryn also said she is thankful for her experiences so far and that’s what motivates her to work hard. And, she called law school a “fun challenge.” All positive mental frames.
I truly believe that a positive attitude is crucial in finding success in what you do, and has attributed to Kathryn’s success. Because if you’re upset or pissed off about something, then it’s really hard to do a task well. For you guys, making a positive emotional state when you go into an exam or an interview will produce better results.
Most importantly, Kathryn is a great example that hard work is required for success. You can have a master plan for your next day and be positive about it going in, but if you don’t work hard to get it done, then the plan is worthless.
From my interaction with Kathryn, I’m confident that she will be an excellent attorney based on her mindset and hard-working habits that she developed in college.
If you want similar successful results, I want you to try to apply an organized daily plan, positive attitude, and hard work in your life. You can do it!
Related: How To Fund Graduate School
Readers: What did you learn most from this interview? What applies most to you? Are organized time-management habits a common occurrence in your life? Do you struggle to be productive when you’re upset about something?