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EditorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s note:Ã‚Â Maria Montgomery, a student at Eastern Kentucky and Miss Kentucky USA 2009, attended UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Media Day and interviewed players and other personalities for vaughtsviews.com and www.amnews.com. You can also read her blog at her blog.
By MARIA MONTGOMERY
I was thrilled when Larry Vaught first contacted me about attending UK Media Day and eager to meet the Wildcats and witness behind the scenes of Big Blue basketball. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been a UK fan ever since my sister and I used to wear UK cheerleading outfits to cheer on our dad as he played basketball in our front yard. Needless to say, I was enthusiastic to meet the men who embody the UK basketball tradition.
When I arrived at Memorial Coliseum I was even more excited to learn that Vaught and (Advocate Webmaster) Gary Moyers threw in a surprise twist. They explained that I was going to be interviewing the players myself! Not only that, but we were going to have different interviews that were from a college studentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s perspective to learn about their everyday lives. We wanted a different type of interview instead of talking about being ranked in the pre-season top five or something of the sort.
This type of television work is just what I have come to love during my year as Miss Kentucky USA. I knew this opportunity promised to be one of a lifetime. However, I knew it would be even better due to the excitement brought by Ã¢â‚¬Å“Coach Cal.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The day began as I warmed up my interviewing skills with several special people that play important roles in the athletic department. My first interviewee was someone IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve admired for a long time, WLEX-TVÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Mary Jo Perino. I remembered Mary Jo attending the Boyle County football banquet when I was cheerleading years ago. Of course she made the right decision, but I was curious to what led her to be a Boyle County fan.
I later interviewed Tom Leach, the play-by-play announcer for the UK Radio Network, and DeWayne Peevy, an associate athletics director for media relations. Their perspectives demonstrated what itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s like working with UK athletics for their careers.
As Gary, Larry, and I were preparing for our next interview, the gymnasium turned silent as all eyes focused on John Wall, Patrick Paterson, Perry Stevenson and other team members as they entered and crept slowly to their seats. The huge presence of some of them was intimidating at first until DeMarcus Cousins proved his funny reputation true by making silly bird noises before arriving at his seat. The media stood still for a moment and then rushed to the players with video cameras, microphones,and notepads. We headed for our first interview as Coach Cal peered through the window above.
I completed interview after interview as Larry spoke with the team one by one and as Gary caught it all on film. I am thankful I was able to speak with the team in a relaxed sense because this gave me a chance to portray an uncommon perspective compared to what is generally displayed to the public. I gained much insight as I learned about their lives off the court and out of school.
One recurring topic was their favorite restaurants and who could eat the most. I heard that Stevenson had Ã¢â‚¬Å“lightning fast metabolismÃ¢â‚¬Â and while Mark Krebs may appear small, he said he could take down Patterson in an eating contest any day. We summed up the score of our eating competition by asking Scott Padgett his thoughts. He informed us that Cousins and Josh Harrellson should both win the contest regardless of what we were previously told.
As far as the more serious topics go, I was intrigued with the answers I heard. Regardless if they were expressing the enthusiasm for the upcoming season, or if they were just showing how Ã¢â‚¬ËœnormalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ they really are, I was amazed. It was particularly heart-warming to observe the passion they held for the fans. The fans seemed to be a major factor in bringing some of our best assets to UK from across the country.
I also noticed the closeness they possess without needing to ask any questions at all. After hearing about their time spent playing video games with one another and how they chose to be together in their free time, it was obvious how much they truly enjoyed each otherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s presence. We hope they work together well on the court, but their friendliness off the court guarantees to only benefit this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s number one recruiting class.
Just when I thought the day was complete and I was back in my car, I went to pull out of my parking place and looked up to see non-other than Coach CalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s truck right in front of mine. I made sure not to leave a dent, but did notice that we need to get him a Kentucky license plate!
Thanks to this day I realized how Coach Cal and the UK basketball players are people we hold to a higher standard. We cheer them on and hold them accountable for our grumpy or ecstatic moods on game day. When it comes to seeing any one of the players in person, basketball fans across the country feels as if they are in the presence of someone who is almost inhuman.
Attending UK Media Day with Larry Vaught and Gary Moyers taught me a great deal about the boys who although are abnormally huge, arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t abnormal people. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m grateful to now bleed blue even greater than I had before. On game day IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll wear blue and white not only because theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a wonderful basketball team, but because the team and everyone involved are an even better group of people.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m grateful to Larry Vaught and Gary Moyers for inviting me to Media Day which has provided special memories to last. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m also once again speechless for the opportunities the Miss Kentucky USA system has laid in my lap. The interviews along with numerous photos from the day can be viewed at VaughtsViews.com or on my blog at www.amnews.com.