Sheena Reed decided she wanted to go to MSOE when she was in seventh grade. The computer engineering alumna learned about the field of engineering from her middle school math teacher and set off to explore what it all entailed and where she could go to learn more.
“When I did my research, I saw that at the time MSOE offered summer camps called ‘Discover Engineering.’ The program was for high school sophomores and juniors to go to MSOE for a week to experience Milwaukee and get some hands-on experience with the degree you signed up for. I decided to do the Discover Computer Engineering camp the summer after my sophomore year. It solidified for me that I wanted to pursue computer engineering at MSOE,” said Reed.
So, she set off from her home in St. Germain, Wisconsin down to MSOE where she would encounter new experiences and find new passions that helped shape her into the woman she is today.
“MSOE was my first time being in an environment where I was able to meet and befriend other BIPOC and LGBT people. Spending time with like-minded people was something that I hadn’t experienced prior to attending MSOE.”
She also formed a meaningful relationship at MSOE with assistant dean of residence life Betty Albrecht. Albrecht became a mentor to Sheena and the two have remained in contact for over 10 years.
“Sheena is tenacious, hardworking, compassionate and humble,” said Albrecht. “She always has never been afraid to try new things. She is a strong individual in more than one way.”
Her attitude and determination to be successful translated on to a new passion she discovered while at MSOE.
“Prior to MSOE I had played a sport every season all year long,” said Reed. “MSOE has a ton of great clubs and teams but none of them really spoke to me. It was September and the NFL season kicked off. I was watching a game and wondered if women’s football was a thing and found out it was. Milwaukee had a team called the Wisconsin Warriors and tryouts were that weekend. Naturally, I went to the tryout, met a lot of amazing women in Milwaukee and got swept away in the women’s tackle football world.”
Reed graduated from MSOE in 2015 and accepted a position in Rochester, Minnesota only knowing one other person in the area, a fellow graduate from MSOE. From her time with the Wisconsin Warriors, she remembered that a team in her conference, the Minnesota Vixen, were in the area and decided to try out. She made the team and has been involved in the organization ever since.
In addition to forming a community in Minnesota, through football Reed has had some unique experiences. She played in the Women’s Football Alliance National Championship game and was selected to the United States Women's National Football Team with the opportunity to compete at the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) World Championship.
“I was shocked and honored. I have been around women’s tackle football for ten years; played five seasons, starting my sixth at the time of the U.S. National Team tryouts. I believed I was good at football, but I didn’t know if I was national team good. Tryouts were two days of two practices a day, there were over 250 other women trying out and the roster had only 45 spots.”
The team traveled to Canton, Ohio where they held training camp having two practices a day in 90-degree heat in addition to meetings and recovery time. Then it was off to Finland for the IFAF World Championship.
“It was a glimpse of living like a professional athlete. For three weeks all I had to think about was football.”
Reed and the U.S. National Team were among eight countries represented including host country Finland, Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Mexico and Sweden. The eight teams faced-off in a tournament playing three games in nine days. The U.S. played against Germany, Finland and in the championship game against Great Britain.
“When we won gold and got to hoist the trophy overhead, that was the most surreal experience in my entire athletic career. So much blood, sweat and tears had gone into that moment.”
In addition to the win being the highlight of the trip, Reed was able to travel internationally for the first time and connect with other players from different countries about their experiences and love of football. She also enjoyed participating in the gear swap on the last day with the other teams snagging gear from Australia, Great Britain and Sweden.
When she isn’t playing tackle football, Reed also enjoys powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting. She currently is a Senior Test Automation Engineer at Medtronic in Mounds View, Minnesota. She and her wife, Lindsey, have a home and enjoy spending time with their dog Dolly.
“If any women at MSOE are looking to find another community that spans nationally and internationally and play some football, I highly recommend looking into women’s tackle football!”