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. Drew Dalton lives in Bahston and aspires to meet Andrew McCarthy roaming Southie. 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.
My name is Drew Dalton, from Lexington and currently residing in Boston.
How did you get from Point A (Kentucky) to Point B (where you are now)?
I graduated from UK last May (2012) without much of a plan. My girlfriend got accepted into Suffolk Law in downtown Boston so we decided to take the big step and move.
What team’s fans dominate your area? (College or professional)
As you might imagine, the vast majority of people up here are pro sports fans–Pats, Bruins, Sox. You will hear the occasional grumble about college hockey, but most Bostonians focus their time and energy worshiping Tom Brady.
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 is actually a very difficult adjustment. No one here gets it. And I know that’s clichÃ©, but no one here can even try to imagine what I am going through while I nervously rock back and forth in my seat during the final minutes of the Louisville game. Or why I drove 17 hours through the night to attend the UK Football Spring Game — shout out to my co-pilot Robbie Russell. I can see the confusion in people’s faces when I show them Andrew Wiggins highlights, they just can’t comprehend why I am obsessed with some teenage Canadian.
How many Kentucky fans would you say are in your general vicinity? Is there a local UK alumni group or bar?
I see the occasional UK hat or hoodie, but most are tourists. Although, I did high five a passerby wearing a UK hat the day Julius Randle committed. I have caught few games at a bar with the Alumni group. It was no Jack Dempsey’s but the waitresses did have on UK apparel.
Have you seen Rondo play live in Boston?
I went to a game early last season before he got hurt when the Hornets were in town. Anthony Davis put up a double-double, Rondo dished 11 assists. We took some heat from fans nearby when we would cheer for Rondo on one end and Davis on the other.
How do you show off your fandom while living away from Kentucky?
In every way possible. Specifically, I often wear a UK polo on casual Fridays at work.
What’s the hardest thing about being a fan outside of the geographic BBN? The best thing?
The hardest thing is not going to the games. I had only missed a handful of home football and basketball games in my life until I moved. The best thing is when I tell people I’m a UK fan and confirming that yes, it was crazy celebrating the 2012 title and yes there were a lot of fires and yes I took my shirt off, swung it around my head and took a picture with a couple SWAT team officers.
What has been your favorite memory as a UK fan?
There are way too many to pick just one. Being a graduating senior at UK, the 2012 championship was pretty awesome. The Patrick Sparks shot against Michigan State was very memorable. Chuck Hayes crying like a baby on his senior night is also up there. Tayshaun’s five 3-pointers against UNC at Rupp….So many.
What do you do for games?
Turn off my phone, sit on my couch and crank the volume. Of course I will sometimes go out to a local pub.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to follow a game live?
I’ve called bars hours before the game to see if they will put the game on when I get there.
How do you keep up with UK news without the local media readily accessible?
I press refresh on KSR every ten minutes. And hey, I even bought the app!
You’re a good American. If I embark on a cross-country road trip with my friends, a la Britney Spears in Crossroads, do you have a UK-themed room I can stay in?
Only if you bring as much Mingua Brothers Beef Jerky as you can fit in your convertible.
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 came home for Thanksgiving and Christmas last year and went to basketball games both trips. I also came home for this year’s football spring game. I did make the trip to Brooklyn last year. There are plenty of great stories, none that I want the Internet to know.
You mentioned going to the game in Brooklyn last season. Did you leave the Barclays Center with a severe case of Polsanity? Any plans to go for the Providence game?
I did indeed. I also developed an acute hatred for Maryland fans. They were all such A-holes. As for this year, I will no doubt make the trip to Brooklyn again. I am counting down the days until Drew Franklin pours me a Kentucky Ale Bourbon Barrel at Jack Dempsey’s. I’ll see you there?
How do the locals respond to your fandom?
Locals honestly just don’t get it. Sure, there are plenty of die-hard Pats or Sox fans. But it’s a different kind of die-hard. Kentucky fans feel such a unique attachment to the team, so much that you feel like you are close friends with the players even though you’ve never spoken to them. Pro sports fans are much less connected.
After the Marathon bombings, I read an article about how Bostonians used the sports teams in the area as a way to band together and maybe as a sort of distraction from the tragedy. Did you see any evidence of that?
Absolutely. If you haven’t seen the tribute the Bruins did before their first game back, Youtube it. It’s impossible not to get chills when the whole crowd sings the National Anthem.
What advice do you have for anyone who may be considering a move from Kentucky who is concerned about missing out on following UK?
The internet is the answer. Many basketball games are on tv, the rest are on ESPN3.com so you won’t have trouble watching games. As for keeping up with the latest news, KSR.
Any general stories that the readers of KSR would be interested to hear about living as a BBN ex-pat?
It can be interesting when someone starts to talk you up about Kentucky sports. People will often try to relate and have an intelligent UK sports conversation. I get a lot of “Kentucky eh? That Joe Capilari guy is a great coach. He was the man when he was here at UMass. And that Narlins Nole is from just up the road in Everett, MA you know?” —Yes sir, I know. I knew that 20 months ago when Kentucky started recruiting him.