LIVE AND LEARN
World travel, raising two AFL premiership players and juggling business with her own sporting career makes life ver y interesting for Kay Reid.
NEVER stop learning. That’s been the philosophy of local businesswoman Kay Reid through her careers as a teacher, tourism operator and travel agent, and has fired her sporting endeavours, and her approach to motherhood.
“You should be learning all the time; that’s one of the fantastic things about having staff at different ages – I learn from them, just like I learn from my own kids,” she said.
A chat with Kay - travel consultant, former St Kilda basketballer, wife of one-time VFL player Bruce, and mum to AFL footballers Ben and Sam - reveals just how she has lived her desire to absorb all life has to offer.
Kay Humphry grew up on a citrus farm in Murrabit, a Murray River town situated between Swan Hill and Echuca.
Conjuring a scene like those in ‘Pippi Longstocking’, Kay recalls riding her horse, Petty, to school.
“I hated bikes; I remember riding my bike to school once and getting stuck in the sand, so I threw the bike, and after that I was allowed to ride the horse until I was in grade six,” she said.
Kay’s interest in sport began in primary school, where she was one of only 30 students at Murrabit, and continued when she stepped into the larger world of high school in Kerang, among 800 students.
She moved on to teachers’ college in Bendigo, where she studied to become a music teacher – and also met her future husband, physical education teacher and aspiring footballer Bruce Reid, who she married in 1977.
After college, the couple moved to Melbourne, each following their sporting dream in between teaching.
Basketball had become Kay’s focus (“being six foot tall and left-handed was an advantage”), and she developed her game over three years with St Kilda, while teaching music at a multicultural St Albans school.
“We had a lot of Maltese and Italian students, and I taught a program which incorporated their language,” she said. “I loved working with the kids.”
Kay also taught piano after hours, with a young Eloise Southby (former Australian netballer) among her students. “She was one of those kids you just knew was going to succeed, you could see it even then,” she said.
Meanwhile, Bruce was carving out a career in football. Having won the Michelson Medal in Bendigo in 1976, he followed in the footsteps of his father to the Western Oval, where he played 86 games with Footscray between 1977 and ’82, coached first by Bill Goggin, then Don Mckenzie and Royce Hart.
Relocating to Carlton, he racked up another 33 games under the tutelage of David Parkin and Robert Walls between 1983 and ’85.
Behind the scenes, the Reids opened a Moonee Ponds travel agency, Travel Life, in 1979.
“I had a particular interest in travel, but nobody would employ me because I was young and married,” Kay said. “I worked for nothing for about a year on Saturday mornings to learn, then would drive from Keilor to Mentone to train for basketball for two and a half hours, and then arrive at the football all hot and sweaty.”
It wasn’t long before the “dive of a shop” in Moonee Ponds became too small for the growing travel agency, and the Reids’ business moved to Ascot Vale, operating with five consultants.
“Bruce preferred being outdoors more than in the office, so we bought a smallgoods business; he’d start at 5.30am, delivering to schools and cafes, and finish in the early afternoon to do the accounts at the travel agency, then go to training three nights a week.”
Kay’s basketball was upended by knee injuries resulting in reconstructions, but she has fond memories of a career that included winning the Victorian Women’s Basketball Championships with St Kilda in 1979. >>
“I never made the state side, but we had five state players in our team, including Maree Jackson (Basketball Australia hall of famer and mother of Lauren Jackson),” she said.
When Bruce’s football career wound down, the Reids were keen to move back to the country, and found The Coach House in Bright.
A school camp offering ski tours based from the North East tourist town, it catered for weekend groups travelling from as far as Adelaide and Queensland, with Kay taking on the catering role. “That wasn’t a drama at all, because I always liked to cook,” she said.
Never strangers to hard work, the Reids, who had by now welcomed eldest son Ben, decided there was a need in Bright for ski hire, so they added it to their offer.
“I was doing the catering for The Coach House, we still had the travel agency in Melbourne, which I could assist from Bright,” Kay said. “And every two weeks I would go to Melbourne with Ben.”
When younger son Sam arrived, commuting became more difficult, so Kay began a travel business in Bright. “I started by working off the end of the bench in the ski shop,” she said.
The Coach House later evolved to include a restaurant, so at one time the family was operating a ski shop, travel agency, restaurant, and 18 accommodation units, which were run as a motel during autumn and spring.
Kay even returned to teaching music in Bright when Ben started school.
In between all that, the Reids helped their sons follow their own sporting pathways.
“Bruce coached footy and I coached basketball and rep. basketball,” Kay said. “It was busy, but we never, ever said we couldn’t do things for the boys because we had to work.”
As Ben and Sam’s sporting lives grew busier, the Reids decided a move was in order.
“The boys did primary school in Bright, but I was on the road three nights a week with basketball to Wangaratta,” Kay said.
“Then Ben was invited to play at Rovers in the under 18s, so in 2006 we moved here (Wangaratta) and Ben did year 10 and 11 at Galen, and Sam did nearly all his secondary school here.”
The family found a house in Ovens Street, and drew on their renovation experience from The Coach House (which they sold eight years ago) to make it their home – and later the base for Travel & Cruise Wangaratta.
Life is as busy as ever now for 59 year old Kay, between following her sons’ football careers (“I went to 42 games in 2012”), managing the Bright and Wangaratta travel centres, and another in Yarrawonga, and enjoying time with Bruce in the family’s Buckland Valley base surrounded by their horses, cats and chooks.
“I do like being busy, and in our business, you need to have five or six things on the go all the time, but it’s really no different to a sandwich shop,” she said.
Kay loves the flexibility her businesses offer their customers.
“We can make decisions based on what’s best for the client, and not what we have to sell,” she said. “We talk to them about what they want, and just suggest ideas.
“Ultimately, the ability to listen is the most important thing, then the ability to assess what’s best for them. These days, people say, ‘ You can just do it on the internet’, but the internet can’t ask a question, and I’m sure that’s why we learnt to talk – so we can speak to each other.”
Kay enjoys her interaction with people through her business, and when she travels.
“I like people, I just find whatever people do really interesting; everyone has a story to tell, and every story is equally important,” she said.
Kay resurrected her basketball career in the early 2000s through the over 35s World Masters Games.
She competed at games in Melbourne (2002), Edmonton, Canada (2005), Sydney (2009) and Turin, Italy (2013), winning gold in Melbourne and Italy, bronze in Canada, and silver in Sydney.
“No- one is as quick as they used to be, but it’s very competitive and enjoyable,” she said. “It’s all about having fun; it gives you a goal. It’s another experience, and isn’t life all about experiences?”
“I like people, I just find whatever people do really interesting; everyone has a story to tell, and every story is
GOOD SPORTS \ Kay and Bruce Reid supported each other through busy sporting careers, Kay as a St Kilda basketballer, and Bruce as a VFL footballer with Footscray and Carlton.KAY’S BOYS \ Husband Bruce with sons Ben ( back) and Sam.
SHARING THE SPORTING GLORY \ Kay and Bruce, with son Ben ( left), wereable to share in youngest son Sam’sAFL premiership glory when the SydneySwans defeated Hawthorn in 2012. Ben, too, has an AFL premiership medal,won in 2010 when Collingwood defeatedSt Kilda. Kay and Bruce are expecting another busy football season, sharing games to watch both theirsons in action.
SADDLED UP \ Kay ( far left) rode her horse to schooluntil grade six after shunning herbicycle. Decades later she still enjoyshorseriding and is pictured below with husband Bruce ridingin Nevada, USA.
BUSY AT WORK \ Kay with her Travel and Cruise Wangaratta staff member Tamara.