By DAWSON RULE
Hi, my name is Dawson Rule and I attend school at Madison Central High School in Richmond. Since 2009 (when I got into sports), I have been a Kentucky Wildcats fan. You could say I’m a very big fan of the Cats because I heavily support the football and basketball teams.
I guess you can say my fandom started with a bang because the first UK basketball team I got to watch was the John Wall and Demarcus Cousins team. My first UK football game was a thriller. On Oct. 16, 2010 10th-ranked South Carolina came to Lexington just a week after upsetting No. 1 Alabama in Columbia. As halftime rolled around, unranked Kentucky was down 28-10 at halftime. I remember during haltime my dad asked me if i wanted to leave (he assumed we were going to lose). I said absolutely not, we are staying and watching till the very end.
The #10 ranked Gamecocks didn’t score again. Kentucky had a great 4th quarter filled with big plays from Randall Cobb down the stretch. As we made the game winning interception, Commonwealth Stadium began to go nuts. Quarterback Mike Hartline took the final knee and UK fans stormed the field. Being only 10 years old at the time it was an awesome experience and I wanted to rush the field with all the fans but my dad said it wouldn’t be safe. From that moment on, I have been a huge fan of the Kentucky football team.
Since that game, UK’s football team has had some bad years. Yea, we finally beat Tennessee the next year but the following years included losses to WKU and blowout losses. But as a faithful fan I never game up hope and always saw a bright future for the program. When Mark Stoops became the new coach, Big Blue Nation had hope for turning the program in the right direction. His first year was bad but that was expected. Stoops’ second year we came up just short of a bowl game but things were looking in the right direction. Plans for a whole new football training facility and a new and improved Commonwealth Stadium were coming together.
As the 3rd year for Stoops rolled around, fans and myself were expecting a bowl game. Kentucky started off the season hot and I thought for sure we had a bowl game. The end of the season had come around and the Cats had just fallen short of a bowl game for the second straight season with a home loss to rival Louisville. Fans were becoming angry with coach Stoops ability to finish, but as usual, I saw the positive side of things and thought we will get it next season.
The summer before that season my dad had introduced me to a show called “Kentucky Sports Radio” — an interesting sports show about UK that was different from most. I’ll never know why, but one day I wanted to call in and voice my positive opinion about the Cats for basketball and football. After football season, around late 2015, I started calling in and hyping up the basketball team and defending coach Stoops from all the hate he was getting.
I started out as a normal KSR caller and nobody knew who I was. Around the summer of 2016, I started to become recognized as a well-known caller around the KSR listening community. I’ve had some crazy moments on KSR, some negative and some positive, but it was enough where people knew who I was when I called. Some of my teachers back at Madison Central found out I was the “Dawson from KSR” caller and would always say they heard me on the show and thought it was cool.
More and more people figured out that I was the one calling in and would comment on how they thought it was awesome that I was calling in. For the next few months nothing special had really happened when I called in and I was back to watching UK sports and being a high school student. Fast foward to fall 2016 and the Kentucky football team finally had a good season and had just beaten Louisiville (led by Heisman winner Lamar Jackson). Finally the light at the end of the tunnel I had been seeing all these years had come true, we had finally made a bowl game.
The program was overflowing with positive energy from the fans and the team. I saw the potential for the team to become even better within the next couple years. But to do that, we needed good recruits which brings me to my wild story on how I became good friends with class of ’18 UK football commit Alex Reigelsperger.
It was the very last couple days of 2016 when my brother, dad and I went down to Tennessee to visit some friends. In Bristol they have an annual high school basketball tournamnent called the Arby’s Classic. One of the teams who won it the previous year was Wayne High School out of the Dayton, Ohio area. They have a player who is being recruited by UK in basketball and football. His name is L’Christian “Blue” Smith. I wanted this guy at UK so bad that when their game was about to start I ran to the courtside seats with my friends and cheered for Wayne as hard as I could.
There had to be more than 1,000 people at that arena and my friends and I were the only ones cheering for L’Christian and Wayne High. I stood up and clapped whenever they made a basket or whenever L’Christian scored. As the game ended with a Wayne victory, I went over to Blue Smith with my UK hoodie on and asked a very simple question. “You gonna commit to UK soon”? The response back was with a smile from Blue and a “Maybe we’ll see man”.
A few days later, I found Blue on twitter and followed him and to my suprise he followed me back. From that point on I would do what I still do now and tweet at him with positive messages about coming to UK.
A few weeks later I found out Blue had a teammate who was very good and was considering UK for football. His name was Alex Reigelsperger. I began tweeting at Alex and telling him he should come to Kentucky to help the team get even better. That continued for about a month till one day I received a message at school. It was on Monday, Feb. 20th, and Alex sent me a DM (direct message) through Twitter.
It was a screenshot of him saying that he was going to commit to UK on Feb. 25th. At first I thought it was a joke but he confirmed it and said to tell nobody. I still haven’t asked Alex why he decided to tell only me but I’m thankful he did. Until that Wednesday, I was holding some huge UK football news that nobody else knew. I wanted Alex’s commitment to be hyped up and have everyone know about it but I couldn’t tell anyone.
A few weeks back Lynn Bowden (a current UK football signee) had announced through the KSR pregame show that he was coming to UK. I wasn’t familiar with him until that moment, so I thought if I could get Alex’s decision on the Saturday KSR pregame show the day he was committing, then it would get noticed by a lot more UK fans.
I messaged Matt Jones and asked if he could keep the secret. He could, so I gave Matt Alex’s twitter so they could set it up. I was happy for Alex that he would be getting his commitment out to the BBN.
The next day, lots of things changed. I was at school in my Biology class when my phone started blowing up with notifications. I had gotten a ton of followers on twitter that were Kentucky fans. I went home and heard on KSR that Matt Jones said I had a huge secret that only him and I knew about. The next couple days leading up to the decision, my secret was a huge topic on KSR and I was getting tons of messages from fans asking what the secret was.
Thankfully, I was able to keep it secret while letting the fans know just to wait because it would be worth it. Even Matt thought I was going to tell everyone, so he had to literally scream at me through the radio to keep it quiet. As Saturday rolled along, I went to the KSR studio for the pregame show to hear Alex’s decision. I had gained around 100 twitter followers in a 48-hour time span. When Alex finally committed I was so happy for him and for the fact that I knew we were getting an awesome football player for the future (and also someone who could help recruit Blue Smith to UK).
After the commitment, I have found myself playing a role with getting other recruits to come to UK. Alex and I have kept in touch and talk all the time over twitter. Just the other day, he and I went to the UK football practice and he even took me through the new UK football training facility and it is awesome. It’s April and that visit made me want football season to come fast. Alex has become known as the “recruiter” for this class of commits and he’s doing his best to get everyone here. We have become friends since his big commitment and I’m happy that we have gotten to meet up. I’m even considering driving up to Ohio this fall to see him and Blue Smith play.
I’ve become close with other UK football players like Drake Jackson or talked to players like Luke Fortner or Tobias Gilliam. I’m ready to see what the Cats can do this fall and to lead us to the SEC Championship one day. This is just a part of my Big Blue Story but without Alex telling me about his commitment, some of this would have never happened.
It’s crazy to think if I had never gone to the Arby’s Classic, Alex wouldn’t have committed on KSR and we wouldn’t even know each other. But whether it has been fans of KSR responding to a call I made to the show or to Alex and I wanting this program to change for the better, its been an awesome experience to be a UK fan. Go Cats.