Catherine Lee made history on Tuesday, as she was the first softball player to have her jersey (No.27) retired by Eastside High School. We sat down with Lee for a few minutes to talk about what it meant for her, life after college and if she’d ever consider coaching.
The Covington News: For you to come out here and get your jersey retired, from what I understand you’re the first softball player (at Eastside) to ever have a jersey retired. What does it mean to you?
Catherine Lee: It means so much. To be out here in front of so many of my friends and family, former coaches and teammates, it means a lot. Everybody’s been so supportive and very excited. I kind of joke around. I told everybody that 27 wasn’t actually my original number here at Eastside. Pete Mattice, who was the coach before coach [Heather] Wood, my junior year – and everybody that I played with would appreciate this – I was late to the bus to our first tournament. I was No. 12 because that’s what Eddie Perez was, he was a catcher for the Braves. He took my number and gave it to an underclassmen and gave me 27. And then I had some of the best years that I’ve ever had in high school, so I don’t think 27 did me wrong. It means a lot.
CN: I understand you do color commentary for Mizzou, so what’s that like?
Lee: It’s so fun. First, they told me I was too colorful for color commentary, and then they realized our coach is very specific – he has a very strategic way he plays the game. More than any other coach I’ve ever had, so I think they found some value in bringing in somebody who knew his system a little bit. And every now and then I get a pretty funny comment in there. So I think they liked me doing color. But I love it. It’s so much fun. As you know, the SEC just kicked off the ESPN SEC Network, so I’ll be able to do it a little bit with the SEC Network. That’s what I’m really pumped about. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes, but right now I’m hoping it goes well. I’m listening to a lot of baseball so I can get the lingo down, but softball is it’s own sport so we’ll see.
CN: You’re also getting your doctorate, what are you getting it in?
Lee: So I just started my doctorate, actually last Monday was my first day. I graduated. It’s been about a year since I haven’t been in school, so I’m shifting my mode a little bit. I’m working full time and going to school. So many people have done it before me, and they’ve all said it was this hard, and I believe them. I’ve been in it for a week right now, and I’m already a little bit overwhelmed. I’m getting my doctorate in the education counseling psychology school. The idea behind getting my doctorate is just to have doors open for opportunities to kind of further my career in athletics. I love development and fundraising. It’s so much fun. It’s perfect for me. I get to talk all the time, which is my favorite. Mizzou has really opened a lot of doors for me. Who knows where I would’ve been if I hadn’t of ever made it that far. I’m excited for the opportunity, and I’m looking forward to it. It’ll probably take me about three years, so ask me in about a year how I feel about, and we’ll see.
CN: What are your goals after graduation?
Lee: I’d love to be an athletic administrator somewhere on some level. I love college athletics. I have a big passion for college athletics. I’m grateful for the opportunities I had, for the opportunities it affords these girls to be able to further their lives beyond just sports. Hopefully, I can kind of do that for generations behind me.
CN: Could you ever see yourself coaching at any level?
Lee: Yeah! I actually was a travel ball coach after I got done playing. I did that for a couple years. I started coaching a group of girls and they were sophomores so I coached them for a couple years. A lot of them made it to college play, which I’m really proud of them all for doing. It was fun. I never thought when I was a player, I would coach. I was always very, ‘how am I going to teach these girls?’ I knew the game like the back of my hand, but still at the same time I was just very nervous about coaching some of these girls. I love it. It’s a lot of fun, but I think that if I ever did coach it would be on the high school level. I don’t wanna put my fate in the hands of a bunch of 18- to 22-year-olds. Only because I was one.