Buenas dÃas y hola desde PerÃº.
Since I’m currently on a trip with Samaritan’s Feet in Lima, Peru (Coach Cal would be proud) with a group of UK students, I was forced to miss watching the Cats-Cards game for the first time that I can remember. Don’t worry, though. I rocked the UK logo with pride along the Green Coast on New Year’s Eve, determined to do my part in helping the Cats to a huge W.
Of course, I won’t pretend to have watched the game and spit out completely ignorant words (I’ll leave that to Card fans and Chase Behanan). However, I have gained a new perspective on the concept of what Big Blue really means in the midst of this trip, and I’m perfectly willing to share my thoughts with all of you. I know you’re excited.
Kentucky fans do not exaggerate when we call our fanbase the Big Blue Nation. In fact, we may underestimate ourselves a bit. This fact illustrated itself nicely when a Peruvian man walked up to me on the streets of Lima, took a look at my shirt, shook my hand, smiled and said, “Buena Suerte, amigo.” Translation: “Good luck.” Here I am, 3,500 miles away from Home Sweet Rupp, and a local recognzes the fact that Kentucky and Louisville are playing basketball up in the States. Perhaps if it had been soccer I wouldn’t have been so surprised.
As if this encounter wasn’t enough to prove that the fame of UK basketball reaches far beyond the borders of the Commonwealth, another woman, during one of our shoe distributions, said she wanted to visit Kentucky because she knew of our “caballos, pollo, y baloncesto” (horses, chicken, and basketball). And, while walking amongst the parties kicking off in anticipation of midnight, I looked up to see a string of blue lights aligned suspiciously in the shapes of a U and a K. My friend said it was a coincidence. I’m not convinced.
Beyond all of this, though, I’m happy to have the opportunity to further the reputation of Kentucky basketball as an organization of people who care. Between Calipari’s multiple well-documented philanthropic efforts (including those with Samaritan’s Feet), the service of the team itself (such as the project to provide shoes for the children of Detroit), and the Bluegrass State’s renowned southern hospitality, perhaps the world is beginning to realize that Kentucky means more than just championship banners. It means striving for excellence in everything, and pushing others to succeed as well (except U of L).
We all need a little heart-warming, cheesy post every so often, and I for one am proud that Kentucky is reaching out beyond its borders. These kids are getting new shoes, sure, but perhaps I can inspire them to pick up a basketball, as well. Give it a few years, folks. We’re painting the Green Coast blue.