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Barnhart emphasizes intentional action as he looks ahead to next year

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_R6L2304.JPGThe CATSPY Awards are about celebrating the year, honoring the achievement of the Kentucky athletes and looking back at the memories made in the previous athletics season. In between, there is a little glitz, glamour and laughter sprinkled in during an awards ceremony that mixes the world's best sports awards shows and transforms it into a college edition of the ESPYs.

It is also about looking forward to next season. At the end of every CATSPYs, Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart uses the opportunity to springboard into the upcoming athletics year in a state-of-the-department-like speech addressed directly at the student-athletes, coaches and athletics staff in attendance.

Last year the topic was about finishing the job. Halfway through the third and final season of the athletics year, UK appears to be on its way to finishing a banner 2009-10 year. Kentucky ranks 13th in the Director's Cup standings, which rates the top athletics programs in the nation.

In the 2010 speech, given Monday night at the CATSPY Awards inside Memorial Coliseum, Barnhart touched on the difference between good intentions and intentional actions. The speech was inspired by an anonymous individual Barnhart recently heard speak.

"He said that there was a difference between good intentions and intentional actions," Barnhart said. "We all intend to do things. A lot of people begin the year and they think they're going to lose weight; they intend to lose weight but they don't do anything about it. We intend to start the season to be in better shape but don't do much about it; I don't do the workouts I'm supposed to do and I don't take care of my business. Sometimes we just think if we manage it or if we believe it or say it often enough people will buy into what we're doing because it's a good intention."

As the program looks ahead to next year, Barnhart stressed that the department not only has good intentions in becoming a top-15 athletics program by the year 2015 but takes the necessary actions to get there.

"At Kentucky, we came here eight years ago and said we were going to be a top-25 program," Barnhart said. "We moved that up a little bit. We said we want to be a top-15 program. We have very good intentions to do that, but it means nothing unless our actions are very intentional in the way we do it in the way we take care of business. We can say we want to be that. At the end of the winter sports, our athletic department was ranked 13th in the country because of the efforts of (our student-athletes and coaches)."

For eight years, the goal has been to build the program and make it better based off five principles. Barnhart said UK has experienced success at all five principles and he is proud at how far the athletics department has grown, but there is still progress to be made.

In two of those areas - character and integrity - Barnhart is pleased at where UK is at. Where he would like to continue to see even more headway is in academics, being thankful and good stewards in what they've been given, and competing.

While Kentucky has enjoyed a breakthrough athletics season, Barnhart made sure to remind everyone in attendance that it's not over yet. Ranked 13th in the nation, there are still eight sports competing that could move the program closer to - or farther away from - its goal.

In the community, UK's student-athletes have given, but Barnhart wants to see even more, and it must be done with sincerity.

"Everyone has worked to get better," Barnhart said. "It's not enough."

For years, Barnhart has watched his student-athletes grow from more of a hands-off approach. As he and the department enter the next step in its evolution, he wants the entire staff to become more involved in the student-athletes' development.

One of the steps in getting there will be a monthly captain's roundtable, a breakfast meeting with each of the captains of the 22 sports at UK. Together, Barnhart hopes to meet with each sport to make sure everyone understands what's going on from a university perspective, what's going on from an athletic department perspective and how it all fits together, especially during trying financial times.

The responsibility also falls back on the athletics department and its staff, Barnhart said. Instead of talking about improving the infrastructure of the program, the staff needs to do a better job of building it, Barnhart said.

"As a staff, we talk about a lot of things," Barnhart said. "We talk about how we want to do things better, we're going to be selfless, we want to see you do all these things and be humble in the way you approach it. We better be willing to do it, too. We've got to do a better job of taking care of others. We talk about that. We've got to get better at doing it, too."

Specifically, Barnhart addressed the ongoing process to update UK's facilities. Barnhart promised the student-athletes that there are "more things on the docket from a facilities perspective," while apologizing to the track and field team about their subpar facility. UK's athletics director called it a top priority to fix and upgrade the current condition of the track and field facility.

In closing, Barnhart made sure to reiterate his pride in how far the program has come. To get to the final destination, Barnhart categorized three people. He said there are givers, there are takers and there are fakers.

For the program to achieve its goals, they must all learn to be givers.

"I've never seen many championship teams who weren't built off givers," Barnhart said. "That's how you win. That's where leadership comes from, that's where humbleness comes from, and eventually from the love of a team, that's where it's built from.

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