By LARRY VAUGHT
Matthew Mitchell is busy getting his Kentucky women’s basketball team ready for the upcoming season and seemed really excited Tuesday about the progress his team had been making in practice.
That’s why I asked him if the pregame concert he was going to be part of at Kroger Field Saturday night before UK hosts Missouri was adding too much to his preseason schedule.
“No, no it’s not. I’m such a trained professional in that area that I need very little,” Mitchell said. “I’ve been doing that for a long time, I won’t need a lot of rehearsal. In fact, we won’t have any rehearsal, we’ll just show up Saturday and you’ll be entertained. So, it is pulling nothing away from basketball preparation whatsoever.”
Mitchell and the Nashville All-Stars will perform following the Cat Walk, which will begin at approximately 5:15 p.m. Mitchell, a former musician, has performed at Kroger Field before. In 2015 he was part of the opening act at the first concert after the renovation of the UK stadium.
So how did the concert come about? Was it his idea?
“We’re just very excited for the football game and we’re going to have a bunch of eager Wildcat fans down there and so we just felt like celebrating with some songs and music and, of course, dancing. We all know that’s a big part of it too, so we want everybody to come out and have a great time,” Mitchell, who annually dances at UK’s Big Blue Madness.
“This week we’re trying to get the word out too, that we’re so appreciative of the over 3,000 people that have gotten season tickets (for women’s basketball) and so we want to provide them with an event to thank them and then also want to let everybody know of our drive for 5,000 season tickets, so these next few weeks are important to try to get the word out so that plays a part.”
Mitchell is starting his 13th season as UK’s head coach and was co-SEC Coach of the Year last season when UK won 25 games and finished fourth in the SEC. However, he’s never one to miss a chance to entertain.
Freshman basketball player Emma King of Lincoln County regularly tailgates at the UK football games with her parents. She said she was “going to try and make it” to Mitchell’s concert.
“It will have a lot of personality. He does not lack for that,” King said.
She was not surprised by his dance to “Old Town Road” at Madness but admitted his blue jacket and pants along with the cowboy hat did surprise her.
“That was a bit much but it fit his personality,” King said. “He has a big personality. No doubt about that.”
However, that’s not a bad thing for a coach to have.
“I think that just helps us connect with him. He has so much energy all the time and that gets us motivated like I am sure he will the crowd on Saturday,” King said.