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Big Blue Nation

Caitlin Housley | Monday, April 2, 2012

Even though it’s April, I still have March Madness, which is strange because I hardly ever follow basketball (this coming from the girl who asked her sister-in-law if player fouls went away after halftime). I have never filled out a bracket for the madness. That is, until one little team made it all the way to the national championship – the Kentucky Wildcats.

That’s right. I bleed blue and even though the championship game will be over by the time you read this, I cannot thank the Wildcats enough for such a great season, win or lose.

You see, for some, the teams in last night’s game were just two bracket fillers. For me, the Kentucky Wildcats are my connection to home. As a Kentucky girl, I turn on the games when I miss home. It’s so nice to see the arenas filled with blue and white and, occasionally, Ashley Judd.

Although I can’t be in beautiful Rupp Arena during the season, my family helps me feel like I’m right there in the action. Throughout the games, I receive texts from my brother asking if I saw the previous play or from my mom giving me a score update every two minutes. I wear my UK shirts the day before a big game (my two favorites including the “Fear the Brow” and “We Invented Swagger” shirts), and it’s my little tribute to home.

I love that my friends now know the names Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Darius Miller, Kyle Wiltjer and (my favorite) Anthony Davis. During the tournament, they’ve put up with my constant talk about the team, my love of Davis and my Twitter updates from Wiltjer (sorry about that guys). Likewise, I’ve put up with the unibrow jokes and have formed my defenses including, “Davis – he will, he will block you” and “No hoop for you.”

I think Coach Cal is the cutest coach out there, and no matter where I am, I still clap every time I witness a block or an awesome dunk. I cringe when our players don’t get up right away after a fall and I think the “three goggles” are hilarious. I filled out my bracket, saying UK would make it all the way not just because they are ranked No. 1, but because they have the skill to go all the way, and they have fun with the game.

We may have the Naismith Trophy winner, the defensive player of the year and quite possibly the No. 1 pick for this year’s draft, but we also have heart – a necessity for any champions.

So for all you Kentucky fans at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s, for all you who witnessed the blocks, threw the remote at the TV when we lost in the SEC, picked Kentucky to go all the way to the national championship and bought the T-shirts wondering if anyone on either campus would understand them, I salute you.

For me, Kentucky basketball isn’t just another game – it’s a way of life.

Contact Caitlin Housley at [email protected]

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.