Clinic facilities

UK Women’s Basketball Clinic a hit with fans | Sports

LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — The Big Blue Nation ladies took over the Memorial Coliseum on Sunday for the annual John Calipari UK Women’s Basketball Clinic at the Joe Craft Center.

“Non-recruitable age” women from across the state and beyond lined up for the chance to take photos and rub shoulders with their favorite players and coaches.

The format changed this year, with attendees having the option of having basketballs signed by the players in person, instead of receiving pre-signed balls. They also had the chance to ask questions and take pictures with the players and coaches.

“I’ve been a lifelong UK fan and always wanted to be here and it worked out this year,” said Lexington resident McKenzie Martin, a student at the UK College of Law. “I really wanted to get the autographed basketball for my nephew’s birthday.”

Martin, who said she can’t wait to meet Oscar Tshiebwe, is the definition of a lifelong fan.

“I was born in February and my first trip away from home was to a UK basketball game at Rupp Area in March when I was less than a month old. I was born in there,” said she declared.

The more than 500 women in attendance had the opportunity to participate in strength and conditioning exercises alongside strength and conditioning coach Brady Welch, assistant coaches Bruiser Flint and Chin Coleman, and senior player Jacob Toppin. They also took part in lay-up and ball-handling drills with coach Orlando Antigua before a question-and-answer session.

The ladies came up with questions ranging from when the curfew was for players to how they deal with the fame of being British basketball players, even asking if any of them had met their bride-to-be on campus.

And for the first time, women had the opportunity to tour Calipari’s office inside the Joe Craft Center and speak with the trainer and his wife, Ellen, in the smaller setting.

Louisville residents Marilyn Hornback and Lisa Coates attended the women’s clinics dating back to former coach Billy Gillaspie’s tenure as Britain’s coach.

“I came here every year, they offered the clinics,” Hornback said. “I love seeing all the players and having the chance to meet them and learn a bit more about their personalities.”

Coates said she remembers talking to a shy Eric Bledsoe and laughing with DeMarcus Cousins ​​in the clinic’s early years.

“I’m glad we still have a little more personal access to players this year,” Coates said. “When it started we had the chance to meet the players, then it just grew and so many people came that it became impractical.”

Hornback was very excited to meet Tshiebwe, while Coates said Toppin was set to have a huge breakout season.

“This team is going to be fun to watch,” said Hornback.