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By RENE CORNETTE

John Spalding’s love for calendars began at an early age when his parents gave him a new UK wall calendar every year for Christmas. Spalding always believed he could do a better job than the company who made the UK wall calendar. It was that belief and love for all things UK that inspired him to make a box calendar and fill every single day of the calendar year with a UK story that happened on that day.

Spalding made all of that a reality in 2007 when he paired up with fellow Lexingtonian and University of Kentucky graduate, Steve Mott, and made the first Season Never Ends calendar. This year will mark their sixth year making the calendar while sales continue to grow.

Spalding says this year’s calendar is packed with more great moments in UK history, trivia, fun facts and quotes while also going into a whole new genre by incorporating the world of Twitter.

“This year we really emphasized the fan base. We really tried to integrate the Big Blue Nation with this calendar. We found the biggest fans, the ones you should follow on Twitter and put them on the calendar. This is in my opinion the best one we’ve ever done,” Spalding said.

Spalding also pointed out that this year’s calendar was proofread by two devoted Kentucky fans whom he met on Twitter, Alena Nichols and Brian Couch.

Spalding goes on to acknowledge the calendar has been helped immensely over the years by many great Kentucky basketball players like Josh Harrellson, Scott Padgett and Kenny “Sky” Walker while crediting, Jeff Sheppard as being a key helper in the success of the calendar. “No fan should ever doubt Sheppard’s passion for the program,” said Spalding. “He is loyal to Pitino but make no mistake UK comes first. “

Spalding went on to say he also owes a debt of gratitude to Larry Vaught, whom he credited in last year’s calendar for a May 15 item with UK fan Megan Dills when she shared her feelings on the Kentucky-Indiana series ending and IU fans behavior in a story featured on vaughtsviews.com May 15 of the previous year.

This year’s Season Never Ends calendar cover will feature Jack “Goose” Givens and it’s the perfect stocking stuffer for any UK fan. It retails for $15.99 and can be bought at seasonneverends.com and retailers starting this week such as, Fan Outfitters, Kennedy’s Bookstore, Alumni Hall, All Sports, Kentucky Korner, Joseph Beth Booksellers, Calendar kiosks in Fayette Mall, Jay Dee Beckers in Louisville and Jeff Sheppard’s new store in London, just in time for the upcoming holiday season.

By LARRY VAUGHT

If you are looking for a Christmas gift for any University of Kentucky basketball fan, the 2013 Kentucky Basketball Calendar is for you. Once again, it is available at various retail outlets across the state or you can find more information in a rotating ad on the top left of the vaughtsviews.com home page.

I know I am proud this year that John Spalding credited vaughtsviews.com for a May 15 item with UK fan/Playboy model Megan Dills who was injured at last season’s Indiana-Kentucky game. When it became clear the teams would not play this season, Dills shared her feelings on the series and IU fan behavior in a May 15 story.

And is you use the code word “Larry” you can save $3 off the purchase price.

Spalding offered these other insights on his calendar, which is becoming more and more popular every year.

Question: Who is on the front of this year’s calendar?
Spalding: “The UK Mascot with a Unibrow (We wanted a shot of the national championship trophy or the banner, but the unibrow was just too funny. I wanted an image from the 2012 season, but those players are just too expensive).”

Question: What changes will UK fans see in the calendar? New posts? New information?
Spalding: “Every win from the 2012 season is here as well as ‘old’ gems from the past that we uncovered. Players that we couldn’t talk about from 2011 & 2010 because of eligibility (Lamb, Miller, Jones) changed how those stories were written. We’ve got commitments, NBA draft updates, and new angles — like the Megan Dills story. Plus, those little ‘bragging rights’ banners have been updated to include 8 national titles, 15 final fours, 12 Olympic gold winners, NCAA Tournament wins, SEC championships and of course 15 draft picks in the last three years.”

Question: What continues to make this calendar so popular with UK fans?
Spalding: “It’s a mix of things, starting of course with the recent success of the program. It’s an easy gift to give any fan (one size fits all). It’s not cost prohibitive. And there’s a vanity aspect to it. You put this on your desk at work and it just screams ‘Kentucky Basketball is awesome.’ Plus there’s nothing else like it made for any other school. This year we’ll ship to all 50 states and for the first time, a federal prison.”

Question: What is the most consistent comment you get about the calendar?
Spalding: “The most frequent comment is a question: ‘Is it different from last year?’ I find that the funniest on two levels. One is, yes, every page is different because there are new stories, games, commitments, players – Kentucky Basketball Never Stops, you know? (said a different way, The Season Never Ends!  Part two of that is, I’ve been writing this calendar for five years. There are more than 300 stories. I can’t even remember them all. So even if I kept all the same stories and just changed the dates, who would be able to tell? But what fun would that be … so each is totally different.”

Question: On dates with more than one big event, how do you decide which one to include?
Spalding: “March takes the longest to write. I could include five stories on each day of the month if we decided to do it. For a single day, February 15 is the toughest. That is anniversary of UK’s Bombinos upsetting Shaq and LSU in 1990, and also the date of the Mardi Gras Miracle in 1994 when UK came back from a 31-point deficit. Of course, for this year’s calendar I went with a story from 2011, when freshmen Brandon Knight and Doron Lamb combined for 44 as the No. 22 Cats handed Mississippi State an 85-79 loss.”

By LARRY VAUGHT

Now that the Kentucky-Indiana basketball series is over — at least for two years — I wondered what UK fan Megan Dills thought of the rivarly going away.

You remember Dills. She is the Playboy model — and die-hard UK fan — who was in Bloomington when the Hoosiers beat No. 1 Kentucky on a last-second shot and fans stormed the court. She was knocked down, injured her ankle and made it clear that she thought it was a “scary” situation for fans.

Here’s what she had to say about the series ending.

Question: What did you think of the Kentucky-Indiana series not being renewed?
Dills: “I was saddened that the rivalry would be ending. I wish that they could have agreed on venues to keep it going but I feel like Coach Cal was more than fair in his offering to play at neutral sites. ”

Question: If the series had continued, would you have gone back to Bloomington in two years if it had been home-and home? Would you have gone to UK-IU games at neutral sites?

Dills: “If it would have continued I would have most definitely made it to the home game but I didn’t care for the environment at Assembly Hall and I’m sure it wouldn’t have changed by our next game. Their loss in the Elite Eight to UK would have only intensified their unruly behavior.”

Question: Do you still have fans/people ask you about what happened at Bloomington?
Dills: “I am not asked as often as I used to be and I’m thankful for that. There’s much more to my life than one basketball game.”
Question: Finally, how much did you enjoy the national championship?
Dills: “Winning the national championship was nothing less than pure ecstasy for  me. I don’t believe I have ever been as proud to be a part of the world’s best fan base than I was that day. I feel very blessed to have been born and raised a Kentucky fan. This is a tradition that was passed onto me and I have continued it with my nieces and nephews. The 2012 national championship team is a group of amazing, genuine young men with a bond that is not seen often. I am proud to be a Kentucky Wildcat.”

Megan Dills

Megan Dills

By LARRY VAUGHT

When Megan Dills went to Bloomington, Ind., to watch her favorite team, Kentucky, play basketball in December, she never envisioned how that game would impact her life.

She was knocked down when Indiana fans stormed the court after the 73-72 victory and injured her ankle so severely that it caused her to miss work. However, the story was picked up not only nationally, but also internationally because she happened to also be a Playboy model.

Now she says there’s “probably no way” she cannot be in Atlanta Friday when UK and Indiana play again — this time in the NCAA Tournament South Region.

“I am beyond words. I am so excited,” she said Sunday via telephone from her home in northern Kentucky. “I don’t see how I could not go to the game. I think our boys are hot for this game and have hated watching that replay (on ESPN of the game-winning shot at Indiana by Christan Watford).

“I want them to smoke them. Not just win, but shut down Watford. I want to see Terrence Jones dunk on his head. That is what I am envisioning. I am pumped. I do not want to say too much on Twitter or Facebook this week, but I am ready for that game now.”

She says her fall at Indiana has led to a lot of “really positive outcomes.” She was on a nationally syndicated show talking about the danger of fans storming the court. She went to Rupp Arena to write a column for the NationofBlue.com, an internet site devoted to UK sports, and had a story also appear on Playboy’s website. She’s been on various radio talk shows.

“I have a lot more friends in Big Blue Nation now. There are a lot more folks I associate with and meet for games,” Dills, who was in Louisville Saturday to watch Kentucky beat Iowa State while Indiana was eliminating Virginia Commonwealth in Portland, Ore.

“But on the other hand, there are a lot of people who dislike me, including some Kentucky fan. Unfortunately, when you put Playboy with anything, there’s such a negative connotation for some.

“But the hate has not overwhelmed the love and support. It has given me a platform where I can speak more vocally about our program and players. I never planned on this story going so big, but it’s good that it did. It opened so many avenues for me, including going to Rupp Arena as a guest writer and seeing what all goes on behind the scenes.”

She’s currently working on a new reality show that is being filmed in Kentucky.

“I actually wore blue the first day we filmed because it was a Kentucky game day,” she said. “You will definitely see me in blue and some 3 goggles up.”

She expects to see a lot of blue in Atlanta Friday, too.

“I want our fans to come to Atlanta and show how a fan base is supposed to be and supposed to act. I know it will be  house of blue. We are going to take over the Georgia Dome,” Dills said. “It would be easy for me to want to say and chant bad things at Indiana, but I won’t do that. Our boys will have our backs and take care of things on the court and we have enough dignity not to rush the court after beating Indiana.

“I had an amazing time at Louisville Saturday. I didn’t sit down. I was part of (Murray) Racer nation and was screaming so much that game I almost lost my voice before the Kentucky game. I was so proud of Murray, too, even though they lost (to Marquette).”

She also enjoyed meeting two fans from Michigan who were in town on business and bought tickets to the game.

“They had never seen anything like our fans and I got to tell them about all the mind-boggling parts of being a UK fan,” she said.

She admits fans sometimes now stop her because they recognize her and she has to re-tell the Indiana story.

“I have become so much aware of what happens when fans storm the court or field and how really dangerous it is,” Dills said. “Mine was just a simple injury and some people, especially some Indiana fans, made fun of it. But our players, or even their players, on the court could have been hurt and a lot of them hopefully are going on to be pro players. But now all I want to see is our boys walking off the court with a win. That will mean a lot more than any December win.”

Megan Dills and Larry Vaught, courtside at Rupp Arena. (Gary Moyers photo)

Megan Dills

Megan Dills

By LARRY VAUGHT

Megan Dills wants to combine her love for University of Kentucky basketball with a way to help cancer research in honor the memory of her father, Carl Dills.

“I am holding a design contest for a swimsuit,” said Dills, a UK fan from Grant County and a Playboy model. “The suit will be in my favorite blue, UK blue. The swimsuit will be called ‘The Cure’, in memory of my dad  and all proceeds of the swimsuit will go to cancer research.”

She plans to take design submissions through Jan. 31 at curechallenge@yahoo.com and the winning design will receive $500.

She got her swimsuit idea from a Playboy model from Australia who has done a similar thing.

“She names all her swimsuits. I wanted a swimsuit named the ‘Cure’ and just got a wild hair and decided to do it myself,” Dills said. “All the proceeds will go to cancer research in honor of my dad.

“I am pretty excited about it. I want a two-piece bikini design. Nothing scanty, just a normal two-piece suit anybody can wear. There can’t be anything that says UK or anything like that on it. It has to be UK blue.”

She hopes to have both a “high end” swimsuit that could sell for $200 and a more moderate swimsuit that could sell in the $30 range.

Dills, who gained national attention after she was knocked down at Indiana when IU fans stormed the court after the Hoosiers’ win over Kentucky, knows she likely will need to model the swimsuit when the winning design is picked.

“I hope to get some of my model friends to wear it and even some at the Playboy Mansion,” she said. “I would love to be able to go to spring break and give out suits to college girls to make it a sea of blue. It’s just one of these things I feel very passionate about because of my dad, who died last year. I really want to make this work and also give UK fans something else kind of special for them.”

By LARRY VAUGHT

She describes herself as a “die-hard Kentucky fan” and says not much can intimidate her. However, Megan Dills admits she did feel a bit overwhelmed at Indiana’s Assembly Hall Saturday when the Hoosiers beat UK 73-72 and she was knocked down when the crowd rushed the floor after the game.

“I was not intimidate at all until the end,” said Dills, 28. “I have a friend who is an Indiana alum and that’s how I got the ticket. I was not going to miss out on the ticket even though it was just going to be me sitting with all those IU fans.”

Dills, a 2007 Kentucky graduate with an animal science/pre-vet major, had UK painted on her face and wore a UK shirt. She almost says she can be a bit “mouthy” at games in support of the Wildcats.

“You couldn’t hear yourself think, much less scream for UK,” she said. “There was a girl two rows behind me that said, ‘Sit your blonde — down.’ I turned around and probably said some not so nice things myself back. But it was a good time, or at least it was until the end.

“All those fans came out of their seats and rushed the floor like idiots. The next thing I knew, I was knocked down five or six steps. I think the guy who actually knocked me down is the one who did at least pick me up. After I got hurt, I was scared to death.”

She had a swollen ankle she could barely walk on and a doctor confirmed Monday that she not only had a sprained ankle, but also some torn tendons. The injury has forced her to cancel a Playboy photo shoot this Saturday in Indiana.

“I just can’t do the shoot with my ankle like it is,” Dills, who also has a psychology degree from Northern Kentucky University, said. “But that’s okay because I do a lot of them.”

Dills, a Grant County native, grew up watching Kentucky games. “It was just a tradition with our family,” she said. “That’s where I learned that we do pray for basketball here because God does wear blue, too.”

She became a Playboy model and her first issue was for the “Girls of the SEC” where she represented Kentucky.

“That was spectacular and exciting for me. I always wanted to be a Playboy model or playmate, and then I got to represent Kentucky,” she said. “I worked the UK/U of L football game in 2007 as my first Playboy signing. I got a lot of notoriety for it because only a few girls are chosen every four years to do that (Girls of the SEC). Then my next issue of Playboy was as a college girl for UK in 2008. When I represent my school, I take it to another level.”

She let Jeff Goodman of CBSsports.com know that Monday via Twitter. She noted she had so much confidence in Kentucky in spite of Saturday’s loss that she would paint “I Love Duke” across her chest and go to a Rupp Arena game next year — “which would be like instant suicide” — if UK did not make the Final Four if he would use blue paint to write “I love UK” across his chest if Kentucky did make the Final Four.

“He wrote back and said he thought UK would be in the (national) championship game,” Dills said.

She’s currently friends with several UK basketball players, including Terrence Jones and Darius Miller, that she has met through friends and/or work.

“I really think a lot of Darius and I feel so bad for Terrence (because of the way he played at Indiana where he had just one rebound and four points). He is such a big teddy bear and is a sweet, compassionate person,” Dills said. “To see that look on him this weekend, I knew he was hurting inside. This kid cares. It’s not about the lights and glamor. He wants to win because he does care even if some fans don’t want to believe that right now.”

She insists there would never be a postgame scene in Rupp Arena like the one at Bloomington, Ind., last Saturday. She still remembers her father getting upset when she was younger and he would see UK players that did not have their jersey tucked in during games.

“We have higher expectations for our boys and school to live up to,” she said. “What happened up there would never happen at Kentucky. They were so distasteful and not very sportsmanlike. You would have thought they won the national championship. I just see us as different than other schools. Basketball really is like a religion and we respect the game. You would not have to leave a game in fear like you did Indiana. Besides, if Kentucky had played to half of its potential, IU would be singing another song today.”

Dills, who lives in Los Angeles but travels back to Grant County to see family, hopes to make some games in Rupp Arena this year. If not, she’ll be at the SEC Tournament in New Orleans.

“As a student, I used to go into the E-Rupp-tion Zone at Rupp and loved it. I never had a voice when I left,” she said. “But as long as I get to see Kentucky play, I am cool no matter where I sit. Kentucky women, if you want to talk trash about basketball, we can list the lineup and throw a punch or two for all our boys because we love our basketball.”

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