By LARRY VAUGHT
Julie Burd believes she entered the world chanting, “Go Big Blue,” because living in Kentucky it was in her DNA.
“It was passed down from my grandparents, father and mother. Kentucky has been and always will be one of my first loves,” said Burd, a 1993 UK graduate.
She now lives in Jacksonville and is a military spouse. Her husband, Michael, is also a native Kentuckian and lifelong fan — “I would never have married him otherwise,” Burd said — and shares the same passion for UK sports as she does. He was a first-time All-State basketball player at Hart County High School and got his team to the 1989 state tourney where he had 41 points, including eight 3-pointers, in a first-round win. He even won the Ted Sanford Award at the state.
“He chose to play D-1 basketball at the United States Naval Academy. He is still serving today as a Navy Captain. As a navy pilot, he has commanded 2 helicopter squadrons (HSM-46 and HSM-40), and most recently served as Wing Commander of Helicopter Maritime Strike Wing Atlantic where he was over 11 commands, and more than 2400 sailors and officers,” Burd said.
He has transitioned to his post-major command assignment at Navy Personal Command in Millington, TN., the once the school year ends, she’ll bring her four children to join him.
“We are excited to return to Memphis, and be closer to our families, friends, the Bluegrass State, and more opportunities to see UK play,” she said.
However, she did get to see Kentucky beat Wofford Sunday in Jacksonville in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. She went to the game with her 16-year-old son, Trey. She also has 11-year-old twins, Jack and Ella, and 10-year-old Cate.
“They, too, are just as passionate as their parents about all things Kentucky/UK. They truly enjoy wearing their UK attire on ‘dress down’ days at their school. They attend a private, Christian school here in Jacksonville, and simply radiate on days that they can wear their UK tees. They are definitely in the minority,” she said.
They have lived in Pensacola, Fla.; Jacksonville; Newport, R.I.; Washington, DC; and Memphis. Technology has always helped her follow the Cats.
“However, in the late 90s and early 2000, I do remember sitting in the driveway of our home listening to games and postgame on various AM stations (Louisville and Cincinnati stations). When we relocate to a new city, one of the first things we do is learn where UK fans may gather for games,” she said.
“ When we first moved to Jacksonville in 1997, we were fortunate to have a great uncle who lived here, Bobby Daub. He was one of the biggest UK fans I have ever known. He invited us to meet his game day group (majority of CSX employees from Louisville who moved with the company to Jacksonville). We met regularly to watch the games at a local bar — it was wonderful to be among Kentuckians who shared the passion of UK basketball.”
It’s not hard for friends to know the family follows Kentucky during basketball season. She says the house is all blue, all season.
“It is a requirement that blue is the color of the day — all children checked to ensure they are dressed accordingly,” Burd said. “We proudly display our UK flag on game day as well. The day begins with playing ‘On, On U of K,’ and prayerfully ends with a victory,” she said.
There is one game day exception for wearing Kentucky blue — the Army-Navy football game.
“We must support the Midshipman on that day by wearing blue and gold. However, we have been known to immediately change to our UK attire for the UK basketball game that typically follows Army-Navy,” Burd said. “This is one of my favorite days in sports — we get to support/cheer for both Navy and UK.”
She tries to see at least one UK game per year in person. She has made the annual trek to Gainesville to see UK play Florida in basketball. They’ve also been to football and baseball games and she says “Santa is usually very good” at delivering UK tickets.
“Hearing and chanting ‘Go Big Blue’ in an opposing team’s arena is simply incredible – music to my ears. It gives me chills when we take over another team’s arena proving, yet again, why there is no more devoted or passionate fan base than BBN,” Burd, who also made the trip to Madison Square Garden to watch UK play Seton Hall last December, said.
Count Burd as a solid John Calipari fan as well.
“Coach Cal is one of my favorites. I do not know many men who could embrace BBN as well as he has. We are a very unique fan base — UK basketball, in particular, brings so many together for a common purpose and love that crosses generations, backgrounds, beliefs, geography, etc.” she said.
“The passion is like no other. It is an obsession — a way of life like no other. We know the game, and we respect and understand its history.”