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2018 John Calapari Women’s Clinic: A sneak peek into basketball operations and a beautiful friendship.

Laura Williams with Holly Rowe, left, and Maria Taylor.

Vaught’s note: This is the first of several contributions from women who attended the John Calipari Women’s Clinic Sunday night in Memorial Coliseum to give you insights on what the experience was like.

By LAURA WILLIAMS (@lafromky), Contributing Writer

With over 600 women in attendance, it is strategically impossible to have the women’s clinics of old where you could walk up to a player, introduce yourself, take a picture, and have a minute to chat. That doesn’t mean that the women’s clinic isn’t still a wonderful experience, but it’s less about the players and interaction, and more of an opportunity to learn about the basketball program that many of us love.

The team seems like a group of great guys and I look forward to finding out what they do on the court. We had the opportunity to watch player introductions, a few minutes of drills, and women were grouped randomly to stand behind the team for a team photo at the end of the night. Yes, I was disappointed that there is zero interaction — not even a Q & A — but it is what it is. Moving on.

Two things stood out to me at tonight‘s clinic. Our coaches love what they do and Maria Taylor and Holly Rowe are two fabulous ladies with an incredible friendship. 

The coaches session led by Joel Justus, Kenny Payne, and Tony Barbee all gave us a glimpse into the lives they lead. Coach Justus took questions from the ladies and first up was a question about recruiting. He walked us through Immanuel Quickly‘s recruitment to give us an idea of how the process works.

But what really stood out to me was when they were asked about a “typical day.” Coach Barbee immediately began making the gimme gesture with his hands wanting the microphone. As soon as he had it, he looked at Kenny Payne and asked, “When was the last time you celebrated your anniversary? Went on vacation?”

As Coach Payne shook his head, Coach Barbee proceeded to tell us how these coaches essentially live, eat, breathe, and sleep Kentucky basketball. But they don’t do it because they have to … they do it for the love of the game. Coach Barbee told us he hasn’t worked in years because he loves what he does. Even if this means they don’t see their wives or their families who, we were told, knew what they were getting into!

Another moment for me was when Coach Payne discussed how they do more then teach basketball. They build relationships.

I wish I could’ve spent more time hearing the stories of ESPN’s Maria Taylor and Holly Rowe. We only had a few minutes to listen to their session, but we were regaled with fun stories and touching moments. You can’t help but like these two ladies. More importantly, you could see how much they like each other. Their friendship was one of the feel-good moments of the day. The way these two women, who are in the same competitive field, support each other is fantastic. I’m a fan. I look forward to watching the show they have started “Taylor Rowed Trip” on YouTube. Upcoming episodes are from this trip to Lexington. Ladies, I’d love to hear more stories. 

I’ll wrap this up by saying one of my favorite pastimes at the clinic is watching what everyone is wearing! It may not be the red carpet, but we wear our UK gear well. Until next year.

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