University of Kentucky Hockey

7 Nov

The Not So Popular University of Kentucky Athletics
When you hear of University of Kentucky sports what is the first thing that comes to mind? I bet it wasn’t hockey. For most people and myself basketball is the first thing that pops in to their heads, and for good reasons. It’s hard for it not to be the first thing to come to mind with all their history and traditions that they have brought to this university. They have accomplished so much: seven national championships, the first team to reach two thousand wins, an outstanding amount of SEC championship wins, and so much more. Over the years basketball has been the main pride and joy when it comes to sports. It lies in the hearts of all fans and alumni of this university. UK basketball, however, kind of smothers the other not so well know sports on campus. Besides all of the main focal points, the smaller and not so well known aspects of the athletics on campus have a lot to bring and contribute to this University as well. For instance there are many club sports on campus that no one knows about, and each is of vital importance in shaping and contributing to the traditions and history that the university has already achieved and created. “The UK club hockey team, known around campus as the Cool Cats, gets a lot of buzz every season. This season will not be any different” (Hayden). Club sports, such as hockey, add a different aspect to the sport life of Kentucky and the university as a whole. UK hockey brings new traditions, a different way for fans to interact with the University, and a rising popularity.
A New Set of Traditions
To my surprise (according to a blog by an unknown author on the UK Hockey Official Website) this season will kick off the hockey team’s twenty fourth season. Upon reading this I wouldn’t have guessed that it has been around this long. I never even heard of a hockey team at Kentucky before I came here. During the prior twenty three seasons the hockey team has made a name of themselves in the hockey world. Also according to this blog, “The team had 15 consecutive winning seasons (1987-2002). The Cool Cats skated to back-to-back SCHA championship titles in 1990 & 1991. Kentucky went on to make three appearances in the ACHA national tournament making it to the semi-finals twice, and the finals once. The team has earned the respect of its peers in the ACHA and continues to be one of the best programs in club hockey.” The hockey team has obviously earned their place in all of the history and traditions that Kentucky has. It is apparent that sports other than basketball can represent this school with pride and dignity. I found out from a local fan of Kentucky (Wes Henderson) that these players aren’t under scholarship to play and actually have to pay to play on the team. To me this makes all of their championships and other accomplishments more outstanding. It is apparent that these players just have a natural passion for the game and all they want to do is play the sport they love. For a whole team to all come together under the same circumstances and be successful says a lot about their character. They don’t care about increasing their possible draft rankings like the basketball players do, but their only desire is to represent the University of Kentucky with pride, do the best they can and help put Kentucky’s name on a pedestal in the hockey world, which I think they have done a very good job at doing. After researching all of this and actually going to some of the games myself I will look forward to this season and the seasons to come. This sport has made some major contributions in bringing history to this campus and I’m sure that more will be added in the future.
A New Way for Fans to Interact
When arriving at college as a freshman it can be a little over whelming. We start worrying about the increased difficulty of the work load, how to manage our time, and for some learning how to be independent. With all of these factors in place some people lose the interaction experience or do not know how to get involved on campus. One of the easiest ways I think is to just be a fan, and hockey games are a good way to do this. Basketball games are kind of hard to do this, because you have to win lotteries in order to get student tickets, so not everyone gets to go to their games. Hockey games are open to everyone. All you do is show up, buy a relatively cheap ticket and you are good to go. You can go and cheer on your school’s team. While attending one of the games this year I asked one of the fans that I have seen at almost every sporting event that takes place at Kentucky a few questions.
Q.1 How do the hockey games differ from other sports on campus?
Wes said, “Because it’s a club sport security isn’t mandatory, there is no morality so the fans get more into it.” What he meant by this was that it isn’t a publicized sport, such as basketball where there is good sportsmanship. This is a club sport so pretty much anything goes which goes along with the second question I asked him.
Q:2 What is your favorite part?
Wes said that his favorite part was, “the crowd interaction with the other team. You can say what you want. This has given the UK hockey fans the reputation of being the best/worst fans in the hockey world.” He saw my confusion after his response to my question, so he explained to me that we are known as the best student section, because of our loyalty and dedication, and we are the worst student section by all of the vulgar statements and profanity that the fans say during the game. As the game went on I saw what he meant. UK was down to Ohio State the whole game, but the fans never gave up on the team they love and they never quit giving the other team all the trash talk they could, which involved every swear word known to man. Even the players themselves have noticed the crowd interaction. “Who or where we play doesn’t affect us, although we do have a huge advantage at home with our fans,” junior defenseman Hunter Lyons said (Armbruster). When the players know that the fans are behind them it makes the game more exciting. It gives them more energy and something to play for. The more the fans cheer the harder the players play. Without this crazy fan club that Kentucky people are known to have I don’t think the team would be as successful.
UK Hockey is on the rise in popularity around campus on things to do
I asked a lot of the people around me regardless of what year they were if they knew about UK hockey prior to having come to the university. For the majority the answer was no unless they were like me and had a relative that is older who attend this university and found out through them. My brother introduced me to it while I was still in high school, so this was one of the things that I looked forward to when I came to the University of Kentucky. With the increase in popularity it didn’t take all of my friends that didn’t know about it to find out and get interested in it. There are signs, posters, and bulletin boards around campus that let everyone know when the next games are. My Residential Advisor told me that since his freshman year it seems even more popular now than it did when he was a freshman. I can see why. My friends along with myself love going, and so do a lot of other students around campus. The arena isn’t very big, and they sell out almost every game, so if you want a good seat you have to get to the games pretty early. The popularity is always increased when they beat rivals and hated opponents. A couple weeks ago the UK team played Louisville and absolutely demolished them with a 14-0 score. It’s always a good feeling when your school beats the opposing schools and with wins like this I’m sure that even more people will get interested in the hockey team as the year goes on. “The team also got invited to the American Collegiate Hockey Association Showcase, where Docherty said the best teams in the nation compete in the tournament (Hayden).” Apart from just the fans on campus the hockey team is getting more popular in the hockey community as well. As they their progress continues to grow their team is getting more recognition. It hasn’t been around as long as some of the other sports on campus, but is has grown so much already. The hype that the hockey team brings is of positive and spontaneous energy. I look forward to seeing how much it grows when I become a University of Kentucky alumnus.
UK Hockey is Famous!
Every year the team comes out with a calendar to raise money for the team. The hockey team doesn’t receive any budget money from the university so the general manager came up with this genius idea to help raise money for the team. Ever year a woman is selected to pose in Kentucky hockey apparel, and then their picture is put as the background of the calendars. Ashley Judd made this famous by posing for this fundraiser for the 1998-1999 season calendars. Since then this has become and increasing popular way for this hockey team to give back to the community.

Concluding Thoughts
There is a lot to be said about this hockey team here at the University of Kentucky. If you put it in a timeline of sports in general and even of the ones here at UK it is still considered to be a young sport. Even though it hasn’t been around that long through the years it is obvious that the rapid growth of this club sport and it’s achievements that have been accomplished is outstanding. It is an exciting sport with a lot of energy which only makes the fans here at this university even crazier. There are many aspects and characteristics that this sport adds to the university that make it more successful. From its very first season hockey brought new traditions, which add to the long history held by the university, it gave fans a new way to interact and get involved on campus, and the rising popularity has created a new buzz around campus. It is a totally new experience apart from anything else that can be experienced on campus. To any fan of the University of Kentucky if you haven’t been to a game yet I would highly urge you to do so. I know that I will continue to go through the years that I attend this incredible university. I’m sure that more remarkable things will come from this team in the years to come.

Works Cited
Ambruster, Mills. “Cool Cats Suite Up For New Season.” Kentucky Kernel. 20 September 2010. Print
UK Hockey season calendar. 1998. Ashley Judd. Web. 6 November 2011. .
Hayden, Kayla. “Cool Cats Hold High Expectations.” Kentucky Kernel. 25 August 2010. Print
Henderson, Wes. Personal Interview by Kyle Frinak. 22 October 2011.
Photograph. Not Even Close. Nation Blue, 25 Feb. 2011. Web. 6 Feb. 2011. .
The Official Home of the University of Kentucky. 2010. Web. 17 October 2011
2010. Photograph. ACHA Remembers Taylor Vit (M2 University of Kentucky). American Collegiate Hockey Association, 12 Oct. 210. Web. 6 Nov. 2011. .


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