The always venerable Wikipedia defines an expatriate as “a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country or culture other than that of the person’s upbringing.” In other words, they’re strangers in a strange land. University of Kentucky fans have always identified themselves as members of “Big Blue Nation,” and in many cases, the BBN really CAN be found almost anywhere your travels take you. With that in mind, the series “The Ex-Pats of Big Blue Nation” will profile those Kentucky fans who have moved away from the Bluegrass State for whatever reason, asking how they’ve managed to maintain their devotion and fanhood despite living in areas where every exhibition game isn’t televised or where no one in the neighborhood understands the significance of the date April 2, 2012. Y’all, meet Derrick, an Army man currently living in Germany who literally answered my questions while his wife was in labor. Read on and enjoy hearing about life as a UK fan outside of Kentucky.
Derrick (left) with his good friend from the Army, Brian Webster.
Let’s start with the basics. Please state your name, where you’re from, and current location for the official record. No need for exact addresses, I don’t want to get you in trouble on the Internet
I am Derrick Wiest from Louisville, Kentucky and I currently reside in Tremmersdorf, Germany.
How did you get from Point A (Kentucky) to Point B (where you are now)?
I joined the Army almost a decade ago and got stationed in Germany. I ended up married to a German girl (now a converted UK fan) and when I got out of the military we (she) decided to move to Germany for awhile.
What team’s fans dominate your area? (College or professional)
Soccer or Fussball is the main sport here. FC Bayern is pretty well known and living in Bavaria it can get pretty loud around the area during games.
Was it a hard adjustment going from living where everyone knows every detail about UK sports, to where people may conceivably think UK and Louisville are the same team?
It was but it wasn’t. I had to rely on my brother, Matthew and my Dad, Moose to keep me up to date on some stuff. I rely pretty heavily on KSR to keep me in the know. There are UK fans everywhere and working on a U.S. Army installation there are a few fans around and we keep everyone in check about the U of K and U of L thing.
Where’s the craziest random place you’ve run into a UK fan abroad?
It is amazing to be walking(stumbling) through the Oktoberfest in Munich and see another person wearing Lederhosen and wearing a UK hat. I do not know what is more amazing, BBN reach or that I actually remember that considering the size of fest beers.
How do you show off your fandom while living away from Kentucky?
Almost every day. I always wear a polo, a tee or some sort of hat the represent BBN. My daughter and my wife also wear the blue around town! I have a son on the way (wife is currently in some phase of labor, will check on her in a few) and he already has all of the UK gear a newborn will need.
What’s the hardest thing about being a fan outside of the geographic BBN? The best thing?
The worst thing is finding a good place to watch the game and not being able to talk about UK athletics on a daily basis. The best thing is having the chance to be able to spread the word and convert a few fans.
What has been your favorite memory as a UK fan?
The first National Championship during my life 1996. We were all watching it in a friend of my father’s basement. I am pretty sure my face was painted blue. It was so exciting. Got my first taste of champagne that night. I remember going to the celebration in Lexington during the following days.
What do you do for games?
AFN (Armed Forces Network) and live streams if the games are not on AFN. Sometimes it is really difficult and if all else fails I listen to it on the radio, old school style.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to follow a game live?
While in Afghanistan I bought a Russian phone and called a good friend of mine while he had it playing over the radio. I didn’t talk to him just stood outside the tent and listen to the game and cheered. Some people didn’t understand.
If I embark on a cross-country (international) road trip with my friends, a la Britney Spears in Crossroads, do you have a UK-themed room I can stay in?
Of course. Well, it is a nursery but as long as you don’t mind feeding the baby for me from time to time I am sure I can find you a cot somewhere. BTW it would be a trans-Atlantic flight, not a road trip.
Good to know. You’ll be excited to hear that I am actually a professional nanny well-trained in the art of childcare. Since becoming an ex-pat, have you returned to Kentucky to watch the team play or seen the team play live in a different area? Any stories there?
I have. I was at the last football game the UK beat UofL and the best part I was smack dab in the middle of the UL season ticket holders. Most of them did not keep it classy!
How have you been able to raise your daughter to be a UK fan despite not being in the Bluegrass?
I have. She watches the games with me and cheers for them, when they are not on too late. She used to do the John Wall dance like a pro. When she talks to family on the phone and a game is on she always ends it with a “Go Big Blue.”
Jill-Cameron. Say it together now: “AWWWWWWW!”
How do the locals respond to your fandom?
The neighbors did not understand why I was blasting “We are the Champions” at 0500. I am working on converting my German family and a few of them have hats and shirts. The Americans on post always seem to avoid eye contact when I am wearing my UK gear and they are wearing their gear (most of the time another SEC team). I think that is hilarious.
What advice do you have for anyone who may be considering a move from Kentucky who is concerned about missing out on following UK?
Follow KSR, and no matter the situation you are in, remain true to the blue!
Any general stories that the readers of KSR would be interested to hear about living as a BBN ex-pat?
In Europe people think my UK apparel stands for United Kingdom and they get confused as why an American is representing the United Kingdom. It gets frustrating but when someone ask it a chance to tell them about history! Sometimes, I have to explain to them about what a real Dynasty is.
As mentioned before, Derrick was kind enough to answer my questions while his wife was in the first stages of labor with their son, Jack. Now three weeks old, Derrick says Jack is great and rocking his “Is it just me or does Louisville stink?” shirt. Congratulations Derrick and family!