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John Calipari: Sharing Thanksgiving at Salvation Army helps players because “souls need fed”

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By LARRY VAUGHT

Sometimes you know when you ask Kentucky coach John Calipari a question that you are going to get a long, in-depth answer.

That was my feeling last week when I asked him how much he enjoyed spending part of Thanksgiving at the Salvation Army with his players serving a meal to those in need of a helping hand. Service is a big part of Calipari’s life-learning message to his players and something that many players’ parents have told me they truly appreciate about him.

“Here’s what I would say, I told them this today. We got some guys spending extra time in the gym and it’s going to break through. It doesn’t always break through on your time. So when I watched them, I went over there (to the gym) last night about 7,” Calipari said. “We had three or four guys in there working.”

He said he told his players there were two ways to feel good about what they are doing and feeling good like that is key to becoming a “good player.” He said players have to put in the time to where they know they deserve to play and play well. Second players can feel good by doing stuff for others like the Cats did at the Salvation Army.

“Yesterday (Thanksgiving) was a huge day, I thought, because it’s not only that your stomach needs fed. Sometimes it’s just your soul needs fed that people care about you,” the Kentucky coach said. “And these guys were hugging and taking pictures and autographs and these people come, they were hugging them.

“And, again, that’s feeding the soul too. Look, these guys care. You know, at times it will get emotional in what they do. But then having them at the house last night and seeing how they interact, they’re good kids. This is all tough, this is new.

“Every game we play teams are fighting and playing and we’re still learning to fight. None of it is easy for them. But, yeah, yesterday, it’s a big deal, it’s a big deal.
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