‘Legacy of Cougars’: Kati Ray Brown embraces her family’s rich UH heritage
Sophomore catcher Kati Ray Brown is up to bat. Her “Star Wars” walk-up song, Doshka by Mus Kat and Nalpak, echoes throughout Cougar Softball Stadium.
On this particular overcast Sunday in a game against Oregon State, Brown goes perfect at the plate, drawing a walk in her first at-bat, blasting a go-ahead two-run homer the second time around and hitting a single in her final at-bat.
Success within UH athletics is nothing new for Brown. She has been around it her whole life.
There is a picture of Brown when she was a 1-year-old with her sister, Kendall Brown, who was 5 years old at the time, and they are both in UH cheer uniforms at a football game.
The siblings have countless memories attending sporting events growing up similar to the one captured in the picture as they are both third-generation athletes. Kendall Brown played softball for the Cougars in 2015.
Their father, Billy Ray Brown, was on the golf team from 1982-85 and was a big part of why they made it to the national championship in three of the years he was a student. Billy Ray Brown went on to compete in golf professionally and even battled against Tiger Woods.
He is also a 2004 UH Hall of Honor inductee.
Brown said her father was the most influential person in getting her to follow the UH path.
“(My father) made his mark,” Brown said. “He really taught me what being competitive is all about, and he really showed me what loving your university is like.”
Brown and her sister also had plenty of motivation to go to UH coming from her mother, Cindy Lee Brown, who was a cheerleader at the University.
“(My mom is) a crazy sports fan, and she made us crazy sports fans,” Kendall Brown said. “She kind of taught us to bleed red more than my dad.”
Even though both Brown and Kendall Brown ended up coming to UH, their mother never forced them to continue the tradition, but when she saw that both of her daughters were going on that path, she embraced it.
“Realizing (Kati and Kendall were going to UH) was awesome,” Cindy Lee Brown said. “It is awesome to see your child get to wear that name that we are so proud of, and we’re so connected to. It’s also been a blessing for us because we get to be at all the games too.”
Growing up, Brown and Kendall Brown’s lives revolved around UH. From the two young girls going to Hofheinz Pavillion for basketball games to their mother having a license plate that read “Go Coogs,” it certainly made their bond stronger.
“We’ve been best friends since forever,” Brown said. “We just pulled so hard for the Coogs even when we were so tiny, but it was so fun that we got to do it together.”
Because Kendall Brown walked on the path of softball first, she was able to give Brown plenty of advice and prepare her to be an athlete at the University.
“I definitely got to learn so much from her being at UH,” Brown said. “It showed me that I just love the atmosphere at the softball team. … She taught me how to be mature, so I was able to grow up and play like an older kid because of her.”
The biggest piece of advice that Brown has received from her sister is to always remain even keel.
“You just have to stay calm in all situations,” Brown said. “You’re going to fail. (Softball) is a game of failure. The game doesn’t (always) love you back, but you’re going to have to figure out a way to try to make it love you back.”
Despite having a long, successful lineage behind them at the University, neither Brown nor her sister felt like they had any extra expectations to live up to when wearing the Cougars’ uniform.
“It was more of a legacy I could fulfill,” Kendall Brown said. “They paved the path for me then I kind of walked into it and then allowed for (Kati) to walk into it.”
For Brown, playing for a school that has strong ties to her family is an honor.
“I feel privileged,” Brown said. “I just think it’s really cool I get to lead this legacy of Cougars and hopefully, one day when I have kids, they’ll want to come to this university. I love it.”