By LARRY VAUGHT
Petty Officer First Class David Teachey of the U.S. Navy just recently returned from a 13-month deployment to the Bahrain in the Middle East. He’s now stationed in Virginia Beach, Va., and shared his thoughts on what it was like to follow the Cats from the Middle East.
Question: How did you become a UK fan?
Teachey: ”I was born in Richmond, VA. and moved to Kentucky when I was 5 years old. I became a UK fan as a young boy. My earliest memory of UK basketball was 1984 when I was 8 yrs old. I remember UK playing Louisville in Sweet 16 and in Final Four against Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown team. Listening to Cawood on the radio will be forever etched into my brain. I initially remember how excited all of my Uncles, Cousins & other friends of the family got leading into the games and during the games. One of my Uncles was an outcast of the family since he was a UL fan. Before we moved to KY, I remember my Mom telling me that when we moved to, we had to love Horse Racing and Basketball, it was a requirement. As a young boy playing basketball at Kirklevington Park and at Lansdowne Elementary school I was always trying to emulate the UK players. I remember when we would go to the Red Mile race track; my brother and I would ask the Jockeys for their racing goggles. I would then wear those goggles while I played basketball at the park pretending I was Kenny “Sky” Walker, Ed Davender and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I had the meanest “Sky” Walker slam dunk on my Nerf hoop and Kareem Hook shop. I was destined for basketball greatness at UK… Then my lack of talents trumped my UK dreams. So since then I’ve been the biggest fan I can be.
“People know where they were, what they were doing, who they were with when 9/11 occurred. I feel the same way when there was 2.2 seconds on a game clock in New Jersey in 1992. The pass, the catch, the shot, the swish. I immediately fell to the floor of my buddy Dave’s basement floor. Tears flowed, disappointment filled my body and immediate hatred of PUKE and the chest stomping PUKE #32 player. I can’t type his name.
Question: How did you manage to follow the Cats while you were in Bahrain and what was it like during NCAA Tournament time?
Teachey: “Thankfully technology has come a long way. Without today’s technology I would’ve not been afforded the luxury of seeing my beautiful wife and daughter via Skype and also my 3rd Love, UK’s magical season to banner #8. I was able to watch a lot of the games via the Armed Forces Network. Being in Bahrain, we were 8 hrs ahead of the East coast. With the huge time difference I noticed I would need to start waking up at 3-5am to watch most of the games live. So, with my work schedule I requested to always work 3rd shift from 11pm – 7am so that I was able to see the games live on AFN at work. My plan worked perfect! By the time it came to March and Final Four, my schedule had flipped so now I was working 7am – 4pm. So that meant I had to wake up super early to see the games. I did not care, because I knew UK was on the way to #8 and did not want to miss any of it. You can sleep when you die; the excitement is now when you’re awake. That excitement filled me with adrenaline that would keep me awake during the sleep deprived days. The days of the Final Four, I ensured that I was scheduled to be off work those days, so that I could stream the games at home. Additionally every day I always downloaded Matt Jones KSR Podcasts and Tom Leach’s Podcast. Those podcasts always helped me feel as if I was home in KY and gave a pulse on UK basketball and football.”
Question: Did UK’s basketball success in any way make your stay overseas a little better?
Teachey: “ABSOLUTELY!!! But also at the same time it made it tougher. I wanted to be home so bad to celebrate the championship with all of my family, friends and BBN. I could remember the fun we had in 1996 & 1998 and lived on those memories. I remember in 1997 I had taken leave to be home in Lexington with my friends for the Final Four. When they lost to Arizona, I was so disappointed with the loss I walked home 6 miles from a friend’s house. I couldn’t believe it. The next year I watched the comeback win vs. Duke on board USS Nimitz and made sure I was on Euclid Ave celebrating the Comeback Cats and #7. Those past memories helped me celebrate the 2012 title in Bahrain. Attached is a picture of me and the attire I was wearing at 4 a.m. to cheer on the Cats from the Middle East.”
Question: Did you ever run into other UK fans in Bahrain?
Teachey: “I ran into a few fellow members of BBN (BBWorld), but I was unable to get together with them to watch any games. The people I worked with and the local nationals could not understand why I was so fanatic about UK basketball. My excitement and passion helped influence a few Bahrain and Indian people to become UK fans. Our passion for UK basketball is contagious, I love it! I am now currently stationed in Virginia Beach, VA. I’ve only been here a week now. As I was completing my initial check in process, I’ve met five UK fans just within my small group of people I work with. BBN is out numbering Tobacco Road fans. It’s going to be fun talking smack.”
Question: Do you get to see the Cats play regularly now?
Teachey: “I watch every game that I can on TV and online. My wife is very supportive of my UK basketball passion, and I’ve slowly transitioned her as a Michigan native & Duke Fan to a UK basketball fan. I taught my daughter at an early age to yell “GO CATS”. She now looks at the TV and sees the Blue & White and yells “GO CATS” and “That’s Daddy’s team.” My heart sings with happiness every time. (Attached is a picture of us when we lived in California cheering the Cats) We have a Royal Blue Mini Van (The UK Swagger Wagon) or when my wife wants to get under my skin, she sometimes calls it the Duke van.”
Question: Any plans to get to Rupp Arena or any other UK game this year?
Teachey: “In all of my years of being a UK fan, I’ve only been able to attend two regular season basketball games. I thought I was going to be able to attend the Baylor game, but my connection with tickets fell through. Now that I am back on the East coast and only nine hours from Lexington, I hope to make it to at least one or two games this year and each season to follow. If you know of any tickets being given away, let me know.”