A few days ago the UK Athletics Twitter account put a call out to the fans to share the moment that made them most proud to be a Wildcat this season. Fans were asked to add the tag #MyUKmoment to their various moments. I had two initial predictions before I began to search through the different UK moments. I suspected that most of the moments would be related to the men’s basketball national championship and that the moments would be generic, such as “When we won #8,” or “hanging the national championship banner.” Within 5 minutes of scanning through the tweets, one thing became very clear: my predictions were incorrect.
I found it fascinating that nearly all of the memories that were shared that related to the national championship, the Final Four, the celebration, etc. were centered around who the person was with, rather than simply the moment itself. The moment was all about who they got the share it with. Some shared memories of watching with a grandchild who had never seen Kentucky win a championship before. Others shared moments of insanity with close friends, experiencing their first national championship as a college student in the streets. For other still, it was quiet moments, perhaps shared with a spouse who was brought to tears. As the years pass and the specifics about the national championship game itself (who led the team in scoring, who hit a big shot, what the final score was) begin to fade, the details blurring together, the “where you were and who you were with” memories will likely never fade.
Another surprise I found while searching through the UK moments was the fact that many Kentucky athletes, some current, some former, jumped in with their responses. For some athletes, they shared individual moments of triumph or jubilation. For most though, the moments involved sharing an experience with teammates. Once again, the memories revolve around who they were with at the time more so than the event that actually happened.
Perhaps my most surprising impression from the read through of the UK moments: Kentucky fans do not only care about basketball. I will be the first to say that my priority when it comes to UK fandom lies with the men’s basketball team. I would also be lying if I said that the highest percentage of UK moments shared were men’s basketball-related. But, way more moments than I expected involved other sports moments ranging from baseball, to football, to soccer– even to rifle.
And lastly, I found that people remember the specific moments, the smaller sights, sounds, feelings, that surround the big moments. For example, when UK won the national championship, people took note and cherished the moments surrounding the enormous feat. They remembered an embrace shared by players, or the sight of the players messing up John Calipari’s hair.
I will share a list of my small UK moments and then include a sampling of the Twitter responses I came across:
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist leaping around the court as the final seconds ticked off the clock in the championship game.
- The moment when I realized as I was huddled around the iHeartRadio App on my phone, that thousands of Kentucky fans were also doing the exact same thing in order to listen to the 21-inning, historic Kentucky baseball game because the radio was the only option.
- The KSR call-in show after the national championship game, when one man was brought to tears in the midst of his call. I don’t even remember what he said. I just remember realizing that something like a national championship for Kentucky could mean so much to a person.
- The first time I saw a picture of Matt Roark being carried off the field on the shoulders of players/fans after beating Tennessee.
- Darius Miller exiting the bus to the loudest ovation when the team came back to raise the banner in Rupp.
- John Calipari removing Marquis Teague from the championship game with approximately 20-30 seconds left, and then proceeding to walk over as Teague took his spot on the bench, and give him the most intense “high five/we just did this” I’ve ever seen.
- A’dia Mathies hitting the game winner against Tennessee, a moment that felt like a changing of the guard in the SEC for women’s basketball.
- Getting the opportunity to sit next to Jon Short for his first ever women’s basketball game in person. I will never forget the joy in his voice as he savored every moment.
- The Anthony Davis block. You know exactly which one I’m talking about. And if not, you are probably a UL fan trolling in the deep.
- The women’s team coming back to Memorial to celebrate with fans after clinching their first regular season SEC title in 30 years.
- The random mid-day/mid-week Live Blog on KSR for Eric Quigley’s national championship tennis match. Having approximately one thousand or so Kentucky fans, many of which were not tennis fans, come together for the simple act of supporting one of our own–a Wildcat– as he tried to win a national title, was a special moment.
Feel free to share your favorite UK moments from the past season as well.
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Bill Keightley Report : Never to be forgotten.
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