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. Up next in the series is Seth, who’s living in Huntington Beach, California. Read on and enjoy hearing about life as a UK fan outside of Kentucky.
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’m Seth Merriss from Stamping Ground, KY in the heart of Scott County. I’m currently living life large in Huntington Beach, CA.
How did you get from Point A (Kentucky) to Point B (where you are now)?
My dad works for Toyota and that took us from Georgetown, KY to Orange County when I was in high school for 2 years. Went back to Scott County for my senior year of high school and went to UK after that. My parents moved back to the OC after my freshman year and a few years later I followed suit.
What team’s fans dominate your area? (College or professional)
Lakers fans, it’s disgusting. They are the second most annoying fan base next to those L throwing dirty birds.
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?
So hard. People out here don’t care at all about college basketball. I was in the HB Buffalo Wild Wings and was the only one to recognize the Wear twins from UCLA. There’s a decent ruckus for college football with USC and UCLA but it’s mild. Any exciting news about UK sports I try to share falls on deaf ears and blank stares. Thank goodness for Facebook and KSR. Also one of my Cali friends congratulated me on Louisville winning the championship this year. We are no longer friends.
How many Kentucky fans would you say are in your general vicinity? Is there a local UK alumni group or bar?
Josh Hopkins hasn’t responded to any of my business proposals to start a UK themed bar out here yet so no. But the Big Blue Nation is expansive. Every now and then I run into a few UK fans at the store or down at the beach and we stop and have a conversation about how Cal’s doing with this year’s team and what recruits we hope we get. It’s like running into an old friend you haven’t seen in a while except less awkward.
How do you show off your fandom while living away from Kentucky?
Hats, shirts, license plate covers, phone covers, sweatshirts, stickers, flags, whatever it takes to advertise that I’m a proud member of BBN.
You live in California. Do you have a surfboard with a UK logo on it?
No ma’am, but I know what I’m asking Santa this year for Christmas.
Would you agree with the statement that “California girls, they’re unforgettable, Daisy Dukes, bikinis on top”, or do you uphold that Kentucky girls are superior?
Kentucky girls will always hold a special place in my heart, but I’ve got myself a beautiful California girl who can put up with my fanatical UK love and there’s not much more I could ask for. She’s a UK fan in the making, working on it one season at a time, but sadly this past season didn’t help much.
What’s the hardest thing about being a fan outside of the geographic BBN? The best thing?
The worst thing is not being able to go to the games and being there to celebrate big wins with other UK fans. The best thing is being able to represent the BBN on the West Coast and show all these Californians what we’re all about.
How annoying is it to try and follow games from a time zone that’s three hours behind Kentucky?
It’s not too annoying at all really. The worst it gets is when I have to wake up a little early on Saturdays to get ready to watch the football game. Typically the basketball games start just in time for me to get home from work or school. It’s nice because I feel like I don’t have to wait all day for the game to come on.
What do you do for games?
I throw on the cleanest UK gear I have, hang the flag up, and listen to Matt on the pregame show. Then I get positioned in front of the TV or iPad with my laptop and read the KSR live blog as the game plays.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to follow a game live?
I’ve incorporated games into dates with my girlfriend and taken extra-long lunch breaks at work to watch NCAA tournament games. I haven’t had to do anything too crazy since I try to plan around UK games.
How do you keep up with UK news without the local media readily accessible?
KSR, KSR, KSR. Kentucky Sports Radio is my life line to the BBN and UK news. I check the site too many times a day to count, and with the handy dandy iHeartRadio app I wake up at 7am everyday just in time to listen to Matt and Ryan’s shenanigans, and catch up on the podcast if need be.
If I embark on a cross-country road trip with my friends, a la Britney Spears inCrossroads, do you have a UK-themed room I can stay in?
If you embark on a cross-country road trip a la Smokey and the Bandit instead and bootleg some Ale-8 across state lines for me you’ll always have a place in my house.
I can respect that. 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’ve been back a few times but I’ve tried to avoid the colder months. I had a chance to catch a game in December when I came back for a funeral but had to choose between seeing the Cats and visiting my brother in Bowling Green. Hardest decision of my life. Compromised and watched the game with my brother and family in BG. I am planning on road tripping to Dallas to see the Cats play Baylor in Cowboys Stadium. I need Andrew Cassady to commit to meeting me there!
How do the locals respond to your fandom?
They think I’m crazy but they just don’t get it. It behooves them. They think it might be unhealthy. I try to talk to friends and strangers about UK sports all the time but I get a look like I belong to a mental institution. That might be true but they’re crazy for not loving UK.
What advice do you have for anyone who may be considering a move from Kentucky who is concerned about missing out on following UK?
Technology is beautiful. Listen to KSR on iHeartRadio or on podcast and no matter where you are you’ll feel like you never left Kentucky. Get something capable of downloading the Watch ESPN app for games that aren’t televised and if that doesn’t work there’s always the live blog on KSR. If you’re apprehensive about moving away from the heart of BBN just remember you’ll have the chance to spread the joy of UK fandom to those who are in desperate need of it. Rep the BBN!
Any general stories that the readers of KSR would be interested to hear about living as a BBN ex-pat?
Don’t expect to be able to explain to non-Kentuckians why you hate Louisville without them getting hung up on the way you say Louisville. They will not stop making fun of you for as long as they know you. Also expect to share a flight with Mark Krebs every now and then when you fly back to KY from the West coast. He flies Southwest and so should you.
If you’re interested in being featured as an ex-pat of BBN, give me a holler at [email protected] If you would like to assist me in creating an app/website similar to Couchsurfers.com (which helps travelers find places to crash for free) but for only UK fans, you may also give me a holler at [email protected]