Updated: Nov 11, 2020
It's Friday night and Kentucky is on their bye week, so that leaves me with an empty evening of not having to prepare for an 'Everything You Need To Know About Vandy' post on the site, and full of random thoughts.
I've been thinking lately. I really want to connect with you guys a lot more through this platform. To not just report UK news, but to provide you with personalized content in a way that you'll enjoy even more.
I'm doing my best to avoid television because of all of the election news being thrown down your throat, and wanted to hear your thoughts from a post I seen on Twitter, that really got me thinking.
The question I want to ask, is, what moment made you fall in love with UK Basketball? Or Football? What specific moment, or play, or age in your life can you go back to where you knew from that moment on you would become a part of the Big Blue Nation?
For me, mine was without a doubt the John Wall year in 2009. I was a immature sixth grader (Yes, I know, I'm young), and I absolutely loved sports and even grew up playing them all year long. Towards the beginning of the season, assuming there was so much hype around the season, my dad had grabbed me and told me to come watch this Kentucky game with him. So, we sat down in our wooden stove-heated basement on a cold October night, and I watched my first UK game (that I can remember). I'm not entirely sure which game it was, but I remember being in absolute awe of what I was seeing. As small Upward league guard myself, I was amazed on how quick Wall could move the ball up and down the court. How easy he made it look to score. How my home states' team seemed to be really good, and in a fun fashion style, I took some pride in my newfound 'team to keep up with.'
I began to watch every single game, just me and my Dad and my other brothers, and truly couldn't get enough of each game. Before I knew it, I had my schedule printed out and was counting down the hours until the very next game.
I guess it didn't help that my Dad was friends with Joe B. Hall, and he allowed us to have a once in a lifetime experience as a UK fan, just weeks into my new fandom of the Kentucky Wildcats.
Coach Hall was nice enough to invite us to a practice, which entitled a handful of people outside of the program to even be there, so I felt like I was getting a personal show of what Kentucky Basketball was all about. Me and my bestfriend had got to leave school early, ditch math class and make the trip from Frankfort to Lexington to sit quietly and listen to the whistles blow and the dunks be dunked inside of the Joe Craft Center.
Below are some pictures from the practice. While we're here, can we secretly talk about how Cal has aged. He often says, coaching Kentucky will age you more than being the president and if you look back at his first few years in Lexington, you can tell that he aint lying.
A few weeks later, Kentucky played Rider College, and Joe B. Hall invited us to the game where he promised us he would take us back in the locker room afterwards. We sat in our normal seats throughout the game, and as everyone knows, Coach Hall sits with his best friend at every home game inside Rupp Arena. Well, he decided to miss that game for some reason so he had us come down and sit next to him which was maybe two rows off the court.
All I could remember was that Patrick Patterson's head was higher than what my head was. I could see the sweat coming off the players, and hear every word they were saying. It was so surreal to be that close to Kentucky Basketball. I was like a child on Christmas morning. Something I will never forget.
Kentucky blew out the team as it was apart of one of their non-conference nobodies and so when fans started to make their ways out the doors, we were headed to the locker room.
As nervous as one could possibly be, we entered a door that led directly into Cal's office and he was sitting there behind his desk eating chicken wings. In a room that was maybe 10' x 10', was Coach Cal appearing to me as somewhat of a normal human being instead of the basketball legend that I come to know him as.
The first thing he said to us was, "Would you like a chicken wing?"
My initial thought was, who was I to take some of John Calipari's food? The big-time celebrity of a coach, who I didn't think would even have the time of day for a little child like me.. I quickly said "No thank you" and the whole room decided to laugh once my dad responded with, "Are you really going to turn down wings that Coach Cal offers you?"
My embarrassment filled my mind and Cal seemed to play it off as best as one could. Clearly he was built to converse with anyone of any level.
My shyness then turned to excitement as Cal led us to the locker room door, where the entire team was in there, fresh off the court, some still in their jerseys, after one of the first wins of the (Cal) Era and, leaving the room with nothing but excitement and dances.
We were quickly mobbed by a 6'11, 260lb sweaty DeMarcus Cousins who playfully put us in a headlock and cracked some jokes with us, being more of a kid then we were ourselves. The immediate threat of a basketball giant darted away as he made us feel like a personal friend of his.
We took pictures with most of the players, and even made a background appearance on a local 'Coach Cal Show' they were filming at the same moment.
That night was a once in a lifetime moment that I truly will never forget, and one hell of an introduction to my fandom of Kentucky Basketball. I'm forever grateful to Coach Hall, as many have great respect for him, with this just being another testimonial to why, and forever will be grateful for these experiences that led me into following my dreams of covering Kentucky Basketball.
Let me know what yours is!