As University of Kentucky students continue to get settled in on campus and prepare for the first day of classes on Monday, John Calipari did his part to make the newcomers feel welcome.
In a video published late Friday evening, the Kentucky basketball head coach told incoming students to stay safe, wear a mask, and enjoy themselves.
“Welcome to our freshmen at the University of Kentucky! Welcome to campus! Yeah, it’s Coach Cal with the beard and the man bun rolling in the back, the hipster. I’m here to welcome you, but first I’m going to tell you, make sure you be safe.
“Masks, wear that mask, wash your hands, social distance, because we want this thing to go, and we want it to go for you. I want you to have an unbelievable experience. You’ve worked your whole life to be in college, to get this opportunity. We’re going to do everything we can. You’ve got to do everything you’re supposed to and take care of you.”
If they can stay safe and minimize opportunities for potential coronavirus outbreaks on campus, chances of college sports being played this year increase.
“We can’t wait until you can cheer for our teams,” Calipari continued. “It may not be in person for a minute, but hopefully that comes about so you can really feel what the University of Kentucky is all about. Welcome to the campus.”
I want to welcome all of our students back on campus. I know these are unique times but we are as excited as ever to start the year. I know I've said it before, but let's continue to practice safety — social distance, wash hands and #MaskUpKY! #BigBlueU #KWeek2020 #WeAreUK pic.twitter.com/G1jgIfUHhp
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) August 15, 2020
This comes after several individuals within the UK Athletics department have stressed mask wearing, including Kentucky basketball freshman guard Terrence Clarke.
Back in July, Clarke said the Wildcats had title dreams in Lexington, but made it clear the only way they can reach them is if fans continue to wear masks.
In a Zoom call with actor Steve Zahn, along with fellow UK basketball players Keion Brooks Jr. and Olivier Sarr, Clarke said he was confident the Wildcats had enough talent to win a national championship during the 2020-21 season.
“We’re praying for a season because we know we’re going to be the [national] champions,” Clarke said.
“We’ll have a season if everyone gets disciplined,” Zahn responded.
“Wear a mask,” Sarr added as Clarke grabbed his mask off camera. “There you go! There you go!”
“If y’all want to see us win a [national title], wear a mask,” Clarke said, pointing to the white mask on his face.
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) July 15, 2020
This excitement goes hand-in-hand with Calipari’s comments made on KSR back on July 15, with the UK head coach getting a bit giddy when discussing this team’s potential.
“We have to play this season,” Calipari told KSR, “because I do have a good team. Whew, we gotta play. … You guys have no idea how excited I am to get in the gym with my guys.”
Should a safe path be cleared for a college basketball season, Calipari believes this can be one of his best teams since he’s been in Lexington.
“Look, to come here you know you have to have a certain level of talent,” Calipari told KSR. “But the second thing you have to have is, you really have to be into your team and sharing and your whole thing in your mindset is, how good can I be, how good a teammate can I be? And so sometimes we will lose kids that are being told other things: that to be here, that’s what it is.
“This group is all bought into that, both feet. Their parents trust us with their child, and we’re really good. We got some really good players. So I’m sitting here saying, [having a special group] has happened three or four times, but let me tell you what those teams have done. The teams you’re talking about became unbelievable teams. Teams. That’s, like I said, where the work comes in. But I’m just not ready to start that kind of work and the reason is, let’s get all this other stuff under control.”