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Guest post: “We are going to love this team”

Vicky Graff Photo

Vaught’s note: This is the final of a series of stories by women who attended the John Calipari Women’s Clinic Sunday. They have each shared their views on the good and bad of the clinic. On Wednesday, UK’s Guy Ramsey will respond to some of the criticisms.

By SARAH WHITE, Contributing Writer

The Good: Clinic number 10 in the record book. It was filled with all levels of fun, excitement, and down time. Thank you, Coach Cal for making sure this clinic is held each and every year and we are able to celebrate the players and the coaches.

Cal was Cal. But, I felt he was even more comfortable than ever. He was laughing, pontificating, and excited to be with us. He even reminded everyone how down-to-earth he is by talking about walking the dogs and cleaning up after them.

Let’s start with the good. The guys were affable, funny, having a ball being there. Their smiles were contagious. Their dance moves were precise. Regardless of our games, we are going to love this team. I think they have already bonded in a significant way. The intro of the players was fun. Many of the guys had pre-planned dances. As each player was introduced, the other players supported him with dancing and cheers. PJ Washington was the crowd favorite. He was introduced last to thunderous applause.

Coach Cal and then the assistant coaches were great at answering questions. When asked their favorite players, Coach Justice immediately said “Brad.” When asked the favorite game from last year, he said it was the West Virginia game where the team came back after halftime more mature than ever. (I was at this game with my WV fan husband –- I had given him tickets for Christmas –- and it was unbelievable when we came back to win).

Kenny Payne described a recruiting visit where they were able to able to stay for an unplanned dinner. I asked if Coach Robic had long pants (since he always wears shorts) and Coach Barbee stated that even when he played college basketball up north, Coach Robic wore shorts. I hope Coach Robic will also answer questions next year. He has such a fun personality. The coaches were funny and thoughtful.

I hope we can have players answer questions next year. I would love to have coaches and players answer questions. More interaction is with players and coaches is what we need.

Holly Rowe and Maria Taylor (Vicky Graff Photo)

The ESPN reporters were fantastic. I loved listening to Holly Rowe and Maria Taylor. It is evident they love sports. What a great statement for women and sports that two extremely knowledgeable women are reporting on college football and basketball. (They also fell in love with my blingy basketball purse and had their pictures made with it.)

The very best of the Clinic was reuniting with our long-time friends Emily Schwegman and Karen O’Connor. The Women’s Clinic was responsible for bringing us together many years ago, and we have become great friends.. Without this clinic, we would have never met.

This year we introduced another friend we met at the SEC tournament, Carolyn Poore, to the Clinic. And, we also met two more “newbies” and told them what to do and how to make it from station to station.

The Venue: I will admit I was disappointed that we were going to Memorial this year. We were told that next year we would be back in Rupp. This was met with a lot of applause.

The Not So Good:

1) We were invited to attend the Women’s Volleyball game prior to the Women’s Clinic. What a brilliant idea. I knew it had to be Cal’s idea. We would be able to support another UK athletic group. However, while reading the email, it dawned on me that if we went to the Volleyball game, we would have to go to the back of the line. (For those of us who are always one of the first 10 who arrive, I debated whether I should go to the game or stay lined up.) I complained but was told it would not matter since we were rotating. I explained that it did matter; but, evidently not to the planners. It did not go well. Some women were pushing in front of others. It was cold and raining and there were some wet, dreary women. We only got to see a small part of the volleyball game before we had to go line up.

2) The dates are not announced soon enough. If they are announced, at least 30 days out, my daughters (one from Baltimore and another one from St. Augustine) can get a decent price on their airline tickets. This may not matter to anyone else, but it is important to them. I bet the dates are already set and could be released much earlier. It also makes a difference in what I pay and where I can get a hotel room.

3) Almost everything started late –- at least 15-20 minutes. So, much of the time we spent doing a lot of waiting.

4) Some of the attendees were just rude. And, someone needs to be in charge of stopping them. The assistant coaches were doing a great job of answering questions and women were standing beside them getting basketballs signed –- moving from coach to coach. The coaches had to stop in mid sentence to sign balls.

5) The exercise section is getting boring. If players were involved, it would be okay. We love seeing Ellen (Calipari) show how equipment is used, but the rest of the time, 10 -15 are doing exercises which is boring to most of the folks.

6) Signed basketballs went up to $60 each. I normally buy three balls, but this time, I actually forgot to sign up for the basketballs and was very disappointed when I couldn’t get one. That was my fault – not the event planners.

Unsolicited Advice for Future Clinics

1) Establish a Women’s Clinic advisory board. I will volunteer to be the first member. We can represent the attendees on what we would recommend for better organization, more involvement, new ideas, potential pitfalls.

2) Announce the clinic dates and times at least 45 days in advance

Thank you, thank you, thank you University of Kentucky and Coach Cal. We love the annual Women’s Clinic. We love the clinic and how much you give back to your supporters. Please continue to do all you do.

3 comments

  1. I agree with much of what you wrote, Sarah. As the Clinic has gotten larger, much of the interaction with the players has gone by the wayside, although there are always those who defy the rules and ask the players for autographs, selfies, etc.

    When I arrived, there was a sign stating that those attending the volleyball match would be registered for the Clinic first, and we were given raffle-like tickets and told that we would present those to get into the volleyball game and then to go to the front of the registration line for the Clinic after the match. So I stayed for all three matches as did many other attendees. There was mass confusion as we waited, at one time being told to stay on the concourse, and then being ordered to go outside. We were then told the line would be reordered with the volleyball match attendees given priority. When the doors opened, some 30 minutes later than we were told in the last e-mail, there was a surge of women trying to get in the doors. Once inside, things went a bit more smoothly, although as you noted everything seemed to be running behind schedule.

    I too loved hearing Holly Rowe and Maria Taylor (they are genuinely nice people and had great stories to tell). I wish we could have been able to visit the locker room during registration so that that we could have had more than 10 minutes for Holly and Maria.

    It is a unique event. I loved having the opportunity to see the UK Volleyball team as they are incredibly talented and exciting to watch. As Will pointed out, thank goodness the volleyball team won in 3 instead of going to 5. Can you imagine how late everything would have been running had the volleyball game not ended when it did. And I really enjoyed the food from Raffertys and Jimmy Johns, even though I actually stumbled across it while searching for a restroom. I don’t believe there was ever an announcement made that complimentary food was available on the concourse.

    I do enjoy the team photos as where else would you ever get the opportunity to get your photo with the team in such a relaxed setting. The guys seemed to be having a great time. It is apparent the guys truly enjoy being around each other. All in all, despite my car getting rear ended in the parking lot prior to the volleyball match by a UK employee, I did have a great time.

    1. Good stuff Karen. Thanks for sharing

  2. Thank you for sharing. You were probably real close to me. I saw the same sign and was told the same thing. I wanted to see more of the volleyball game but left to get in line.

    I agree with everything you said.

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