By Thomas Sellers Jr.
In the previous 15-year history of The Millington Star Athlete of the Year, no male or female has taken home the honor twice.
Last year Munford’s Maiya Reed made the declaration that she would be the first person to win Athlete of the Year twice. Reed kept her word leading both the Munford Lady Cougar Soccer and Basketball teams in scoring. Then she concluded her high school career with an appearance in the Large School State Track Meet in Murfreesboro as part of the 4x800m relay team.
With a scholarship in hand to play basketball at Walters State, Reed earned the popular vote online and secured enough votes to repeat as Star Female Athlete of the Year.
“Unbelievable and I am very grateful for it,” Reed said.
The Star’s social media pages were included in the voting process for the first time. Reed swept the first place votes of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. The final tally tied her for the 2021 Female Athlete of the Year honor with Tipton-Rosemark Academy’s Brianna Hall.
Reed who is from California made the move with her siblings and parents Sonja and Navy officer Jesse years ago. Her path toward becoming a memorable Munford Lady Cougar started in middle school with the guidance of Nic Buford.
“I started playing basketball for Coach Nic,” she recalled. “He became like a father figure for me. And when he moved me up there to Coach P, it was kind of rough. Then he became like another father. I still text them both all the time. I was over Coach P’s house the other day.”
Coach P is Steve Poindexter. The Poindexter family has adopted Maiya as one of their own over the years. Reed’s other team varsity coach during her time at Munford was Stan Jamscek with soccer.
Those relationships means so much, a whole lot,” Reed said. “I know when I go to off to college, they’re three people I can still count on. They are a call away.”
The person who paved the way for Reed to foster bonds with her coaches was Sonja. Reed recognized the sacrifices her mother had to make with her father away on deployment.
“She’s made many huge sacrifices,” she noted. “I have five other siblings. It’s been times we’ve traveled all over the world to play basketball so coaches could see me. I used to feel so bad but she would talk to me. ‘If this is what you want to do, I’m doing whatever I can to make it happen.’”
The Reeds encouraged their daughter to explore and experiment with athletics. Before entering high school, Maiya saw sports as a chance to create friendships before officially becoming a student.
“I don’t know why I started soccer,” Reed said jokingly. “Track was because of cross country. I started in middle school, my older sister actually ran when she came here for high school. When we got here, she was like ‘Hey Maiya you should try this.’ I was like, ‘I don’t know? Running two miles in the Southern heat?’ I actually fell in love with it and I found my love for running so I ran track.
“Soccer I wanted to meet new people,” she added. “I just didn’t want to go to school and BOOM everybody is right there. I met my longtime friend Demis Brown. She was my very first friend when I got here. That’s why I started loving soccer — her and my teammates.”
Reed led the Lady Cougars in scoring the past two seasons. Quite an accomplishment for Reed starting her career on the pitch in front of the net.
“It was really the practices,” she recalled. “I got pushed a lot. I actually went from playing goalie, that was my very first soccer position. I had moved to midfield then back to goalie and then back to midfield.”
It was Reed’s travel soccer coach Robert Luttrell who encouraged her to become a striker. Her natural speed and quickness gave Reed a chance to develop her scoring skills. Those abilities translated to the track smoothly.
“It felt really great to make State with my teammates this year,” she said. “We had a new coach for the long distances and girls track team with Coach Turner. She was really hard because she was like a marathon runner – daily practices. I also had support from my other coaches, Coach Ivie and Coach Walters. Then my old coach, Coach Dennis Alexander who coaches AAU track in Millington.”
The meet in May was Reed’s final activity has a Munford Lady Cougar. She walked off the track with her team and wearing the maroon, white and black as a student/athlete for the final time.
“I still don’t think it has hit me honestly,” she said. “It will probably hit me when I go to Walters State.”
Reed will be heading to East Tennessee to play basketball. It was that sport that gave Reed her name on campus, the area and across the Volunteer State.
“I remember how it actually started,” Reed recalled. “We got there freshman year and we’re practicing. I was nervous because there were a whole bunch of 6-foot girls in there at that time. There was Gabby, Deja Potter and Aliyah Lee. I was like, ‘Oh, no.’
“I remember Coach P pulled me aside,” she added. “‘I asked Coach Pearl who she thinks our point guard could be. You’re the only name that keeps popping up. We’re going to throw you out there.’ I was like I am going to get thrown into the fire with all these girls. But they made it easier for me.”
Fast forward to Reed’s junior year and all those 6-foot players are gone. It was in the game of her rivals the Brighton Lady Cardinals she emerged as the clear-cut leader.
“I remember during that game at Brighton and it was toward the end of the game,” she said. “I was doubled team and everything. We were trying to inbound the ball. I got the ball to Bri and she had got fouled. I remember looking over at Coach P and I was still going through my body problems at the time. He asked me, ‘Are you OK? Can you do it? You have to finish it out for your team?’ He looked at me again, ‘You’ve got to do it.’ I looked at him and said, ‘I got you.’ That’s when it really hit.”
Reed and the Lady Cougars pulled off the upset that night. Since that evening Poindexter had his extension on the court. The faith instilled by her father Jesse helped Maiya overcome her the pain, fears and anxiety to be the go-to player in three sports.
“It starts off with God honestly,” she said. “My dad is a preacher as well. He always sends us scriptures in our family group chat. He started off with just me because I would talk to him a lot and ask for them. Then he started sending them to the whole family. It means a lot and it really motivated me knowing he has my back. My mother has my back and everybody else.”
All those motivating factors helped to make Maiya a Munford legend. And it played a huge part in her making history as the first two-time Star Athlete of the Year.
“It really means a lot,” she concluded. “I’m setting footsteps for other people. They’ll be like, ‘I want to do that. I can do that.’ For me to be able to do it and encourage other people to do it means a lot.”
2006 Whitney Robison Brighton
2007 Amber Gatewood Brighton &
Whitney Malone Munford
2008 Cali Overbeck Munford
2009 Michele Brown Millington
2010 Crystal Williams Munford
2011 Britt Sanford Brighton
2012 Julanne McCommon TRA
2013 Sami Jo Schulz Munford
2014 Jodie Duncan Munford
2015 Maddison Welch Munford
2016 Taylor Beasley TRA
2017 Gabby Crawford Munford
2018 Paige Hall Millington
2019 Abby West TRA
2020 Maiya Reed Munford