The year 2020 brought a lot of challenges and uncertainty for us all. But it also brought Louisville their new Sports Director at the Courier-Journal. Reina Kempt from Baton Rouge, LA, has had a long journey to becoming the Courier Journals Sports Director. She has served as an editor, journalist, and page designer for The Tuscaloosa News, The Oklahoman, The Advocate, and The Tennessean. She was recruited out of McKinley High School in basketball and played under Coach Corey Grant. Kempt and the Panthers went to the state playoffs all four years of her high school career. She was named first-team All-District 7-4A as a junior and senior. She received the George E. Meiner Athletic Award; the award goes to the top scholar-athlete at McKinley High School. Her averages her senior year were 15.1 points and 9.2 rebounds. Kempt went on to play college basketball at Louisiana Tech University.
She would go on to graduate in 2013 with a degree in journalism. During Her time at Tech, she played in the NCAA tournament. March Madness fever runs wild in Louisville as the University of Louisville Men and Women are premier basketball programs. Louisville, KY is also home to the Racing Louisville FC, Louisville City FC, Kentucky Derby, Louisville Bats, and Division one basketball with the Bellarmine Knights. Louisville FC has plans to apply for Major League Soccer. Louisville is slowly becoming a hotbed. The cities sports landscape, especially college basketball, attracted Kempt to Louisville.
“The Louisville sports scene is nearly the exact opposite from my hometown. While we love a plethora of sports, football is king in the deep South. The tailgating, the packed stadiums, the community support for it. Basketball is second there, and by a long shot. Here, college basketball is deeply rooted; equally new and perfect for me as a basketball nut myself!”
As a former student-athlete herself, Kempt had a lot on her plate. Between practice, travel, homework, classes, training, and trying to squeeze in social life, it can get overwhelming quickly. But the team dynamics of college basketball profoundly impacted Her post-college career.
“The main way basketball has helped with my career has nothing to with the sport itself, but what playing the sport has taught me. Being a college student-athlete takes a different level of dedication than I ever expected. Being able to play the game is only a small part of it. Dealing with mental, physical wear; and the demands of the program helped me the most. It has forced me to develop tougher skin and perform under high-pressure situations in a stressful field like journalism.”
Women have worked tirelessly to be taken seriously as sports reporters in a male-dominated field. They continue to fight for their careers and pave the way, not only for themselves but other women as well. Her rise to a prominent position in Louisville is proof positive that women can achieve in the industry.
“I knew I loved basketball; I loved to write short stories in my free time. So, I put those two together and decided to sign up for Journalism 101. From there, I was hooked. It just seemed like a natural fit!”
Her determination from high school star to playing college basketball sets her apart from many. She took one passion and transferred those skills in an industry that lacks African American women representation high within the industry. Sports is a space where it has been hard for women of color to crack. Kempt becomes the only African-American woman to currently lead a sports department in a market of Louisville size or bigger. Kempt has already provided the city with great work and is a breath of fresh air for the Louisville sports community.