By SHEENA WETHINGTON, Contributing Writer
This was my eighth year attending John Calipari’s Women’s Clinic. In those eight years, the clinic has changed tremendously. With these changes, brought less attendance. The past couple of years the clinic has attracted more than 1,000 women. This year, the attendance was cut in half. As a fan, I was glad that it could go back to being a little more personalized.
I could tell that Coach John Calipari and staff really listened to the concerns from the previous camps. As fans, we wanted more interaction with the players. This year, we were allowed to have the players sign our basketballs instead of getting pre-signed basketballs. This allowed fans to sneak selfies with the players and ask them personal questions.
Or if you are like me, see one of the players get a text from his girlfriend (player’s name not to be disclosed) and then tease him about it. These autographs (including a separate line for coach Cal and Ellen) took place during the registration period of the clinic. Pictures were able to be obtained with Coach and Ellen. How much would it take to be able to get individual pictures with the players, that doesn’t include quick, sneaky selfies?
Since autographs took so long, the clinic itself started an hour later than advertised. This caused the other activities to be decreased in allotted time.
Assistant coach, Joel Justus talked to us about the changes to some of the NCAA rules. These included the 3-point line being moved back even further, shot clock resets to 20 seconds, and coaches can’t call a live ball timeout. The one I think all fans will be excited for, and hoped we had during the LSU game last year, referees can now review goal tending calls!
In previous years, Strength and Conditioning coach, Rob Harris, would allow a few fans to come out to the court to do a few drills. Not this year. This year, he had ALL the participants come to the court and do warm-up drills (squats, jumping jacks, and high knees). The most popular drill was the plank challenge. All the women on the court participated in the challenge. Except this challenge was especially created for WLEX-TV personality Jennifer Palumbo and Ellen Calipari. I think we all know who won that challenge.
Assistant coach Tony Barbee demonstrated zone with the players. Barbee explained that Kentucky didn’t always practice and use zone because once these players leave college ball, they will never use zone again. Makes sense, why teach zone to kids who only play college for one or a few years? Seems like Calipari is really molding to the college “way” of play. Based on what was seen during the demonstration, the players will need more practice with zone. I have no doubt that it will come together, and we will see more of it this season.
The biggest disappointment, for me, was not being able to have small group pictures with the team. The past few years a group of about 10 women would take a group picture with the whole team. I don’t know if it was due to time constraints, or what it was, but it was changed to all of the participants and the team in a single picture.
The biggest star of the Women’s Clinic was the woman herself, Ellen Calipari. She really is a fan favorite among these women. It is rumored that next year the clinic will be changed to the Ellen Calipari Women’s Clinic. Excited to see what changes will be made in the next year, if it does go that route!
Now onto the 2019-2020 season!