October 2023 Alum of the Month: Lindsay Reed ’18
Hotchkiss Alum of the Month October 2023 Lindsay Reed

Lindsay Reed ’18 is a two-time gold medalist for Team USA hockey in the Women’s World Championships, and she recently added three more gold medals to her collection—this time as business owner and co-founder of Kawama Tequila & Soda. Reed and her brother, Kersey Reed ’12, received gold medals for each of their canned tequila soda flavors at the world’s largest spirits competition, firmly establishing their niche in this large and regulated industry. The siblings, who are also dedicated to giving back, donate a portion of their revenue to protect ocean life.

Numerous members of Reed's family have called Hotchkiss their school, including her grandfather, the late John Shedd Reed ’35, P’73,’81, GP’85,’89,’05,’08,’12,’14,’18, her father, John Reed Jr. ’81, P’12,’14,’18 (who works at Hotchkiss as senior advisor, principal gifts), her sister, Isabel Reed ’14, and her brother Kersey. Yet Reed says she kept her options open until she toured and visited Hotchkiss for the first time as a prospective student. “I then understood why my family members fell in love with the School.”

Reed found success in the classroom and on the ice as a Bearcat. Her favorite faculty members include Chris “Burchie” Burchfield P’08,’10,’18, the L. Blair Torrey Jr. ’50 Chair, Lufkin Prize recipient, and instructor in English, and John “Mr. Coops” Cooper P’08,’11, who recently retired as an instructor in mathematics. “Whether teaching, coaching, or just joking around, time spent with them was always the highlight of my day.”

Hotchkiss and hockey have long been synonymous, and Reed says, “I loved skating under two legendary coaches: ‘Chan’ (Robin Chandler ’87) and Coops. Practices were always entertaining, challenging, and fun. It was incredible to be a part of a hardworking group who showed up every day ready to compete, and I am grateful for making lifelong friends on the team.”

Hockey opened many doors for Reed. When deciding on college, she focused on finding an excellent and challenging environment. “It was a dream come true to go to a school like Harvard, where their academic and athletic standards are second to none.”

She felt honored to play goalie for Team USA while at Hotchkiss. The team won two gold medals at the 2017 and 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation U18 Women’s World Championships. “The first year, we beat Canada in the finals in Zlín, Czech Republic. The second year, we traveled to Dmitrov, Russia, beating Canada in a shootout in the semifinals (sorry for the stress, Mom and Dad!), and then went on to beat Sweden in the finals.”

She will always remember the dinner options when they first arrived in Russia—cow tongue or chicken hearts. “Safe to say, we stuck with the mashed potatoes,” she joked. “But in all seriousness, there is no greater feeling than standing on the blueline with your teammates, singing the national anthem as the spotlight shines on the USA flag, with gold hanging around your neck. I will always cherish my experience.”

These days, Reed is solely focused on Kawama but plans to join a recreational hockey league at some point. She is pleased to see tremendous access now for girls in youth sports and in college and notes “there are glimpses of hope for equality, such as with USA soccer and, as recently celebrated, 50 years of equal pay at the U.S. Open.”

While her major in economics provided a good foundation, she feels that her overall experience as a student-athlete was more valuable than any singular business course. “Between managing athletics, academics, a social life, and becoming an entrepreneur, I learned to be resilient, intentional, and open to feedback. As a goalie, every play I made was under a microscope—this taught me how to channel positive energy and shut out any noise or distractions, and pucks!”

The siblings feel incredibly lucky to work closely together. “The business has been going well, and we expand our reach a little bit every day. The next big step will be working toward building our team. We are finishing our second year on the market in six states on the East Coast. We originally launched in Massachusetts but have since expanded into Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Maine, and most recently into our home state of New Jersey. We plan to have full distribution in New York soon.”

Their biggest obstacle was breaking into the industry as two “newbies” with no prior experience. “We defied the odds to get Kawama onto shelves. The first hurdle was taking the product that we made in our kitchen (a tequila soda with lime) and replicating that in a canned version with a lot of trial and error. Once we were happy with the product, navigating the regulatory environment at both federal and state levels was a challenge.”

The Reeds give a portion of sales to benefit the planet. “As avid outdoorsmen, we felt it was part of our brand identity to not only create the highest quality product, but also to give back and support greater causes. The name ‘Kawama’ comes from the Spanish word for ‘loggerhead sea turtle,’ or ‘caguama.’ We are members of 1% for the Planet, and we give back to protect ocean life and our freshwater ecosystems.”

Reed offers a bit of advice to girls in sports: “Do not be afraid to play with the boys. Learn how to stand up for yourself.”

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