Most Recent Posts
- UK signee Marcus Lee overcame early education struggles to succeed in academics, athletics
- No. 12 Kentucky and No. 5 Arizona State to start best-of-three NCAA Super Regional set Saturday at 10 p.m. ET
- Stoops: Hiring Neal Brown to run Kentucky offense was a “no-brainer for me”
- Nunley, Cumbess Propel No. 12 UK Softball to Super Regionals
- DeCourcy says Julius Randle is “so freaking quick” and powerful he will be special
- UK football coach Mark Stoops on wife: “She gets involved as much as she can in a supportive role”
- Swiss Cat – Vacation notes and photos from Larry from his trip to Switzerland.
- Kentucky softball team earns 40th win to tie school record for most wins in a season
By ASHLEY SCOBY
When it comes to football, and sports in general, the female portion of the fanbase is sometimes overlooked. “They never played football, so they can’t know the ins and outs of it.” “Football is too brutal of a sport – why would women like that?” You’ve heard a lot of excuses thrown out for why men are the “better” or more passionate fans.
But with Coach Joker Phillips and the Kentucky football program, the goal is to involve the many women that consider themselves die-hard fans. As part of that goal, Phillips holds his annual women’s clinic every summer before his team gets started on the season. And each year, Phillips makes the women feel more and more involved.
This summer at the 2012 women’s clinic, two names were drawn for a spot with the Kentucky football team for its road trip to Arkansas last week. The women would get to ride the team plane to Arkansas, get tickets to the game and spend quality time with the UK football staff.
One of those names drawn was Abbey Hall’s – a 20-year-old student at Morehead State University. Her family has had season tickets for years (section 121), but the chance to go on a road trip with the team? That’s an experience that can even beat lower-level seats for every football game at Commonwealth.
To keep her company on the road trip to Arkansas, Abbey’s mom, Mica, was allowed to attend as well. That was something that just made the experience twice as enjoyable for Abbey.
“When Joker stood there and said moms were going too, I was just ecstatic,” Abbey said. “We haven’t had just mom-daughter time in a while, it’s usually the whole family, so we got to be one-on-one with each other for a weekend. Being with the football program was just a bonus.”
Mica has been the main orchestrator of getting season football tickets at Commonwealth Stadium. When her father passed away, she made the decision to keep the family’s tickets, even though it was an “emotional decision” for her. She has not missed a game since 2006, even though she’s had much more than the occasional rainy day or a bout with the flu to keep her from going.
“This year has been really challenging,” Mica said. “I’ve been on chemo all year and I’ve not missed a game. To me, it’s something I want to do. Even if I don’t feel good, I go because I want to be there to support these boys. It’s been real challenging, but it’s something I’m passionate about.”
Mica has a very rare form of bone marrow cancer, and has been on at least some form of chemotherapy since 2011. That struggle that her daughter, Abbey, has had to watch only made the moment when her name was called at the women’s clinic that much more special.
“It meant everything to me to have my mom come with me,” Abbey said. “I don’t really know how to describe being able to be with her on this trip.”
Having that chance to spend the weekend with just her mom is something Abbey will “cherish.” Both Halls had Coach Phillips and the rest of the UK football staff to thank for that opportunity.
“Really the compassion everyone on this staff shows is what I’ll take away from this weekend,” Abbey said. “I won’t look at UK’s football program the same as I did before…The work that Nolan (Jones, Director of Football Operations) and Lisa (Ellis, administrative support assistant) do is fantastic for the program.”
Seeing that side of a coaching staff that has come under fire for the majority of this season is something that made the Arkansas trip even more emotional for the pair. Although the Cats lost 49-7 in a game that was officially terminated in the third quarter because of storms in the area, the Halls thought that helped the trip to stand out even more in their minds.
“I think it makes it more memorable,” Abbey said. “All the ups and downs of this weekend just makes it more memorable.”
“(Joker) is truly a fabulous person,” Mica said. “When I hear the “fire Joker” stuff, I just think, ‘You all don’t know what kind of coach, mentor, parent he’s actually being to these young boys.’…Seeing the compassion this coaching staff has is what I’ll take away from the Arkansas weekend. It really does break your heart to see how emotional this season has been. Seeing it from behind the scenes makes it even more emotional as a fan.”