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Live stream: Fall sports media day

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At 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday, coaches and student-athletes from four UK fall sports teams - volleyball, cross country, women's soccer and men's soccer - will preview their upcoming seasons at fall sports media day. Here's the schedule:

1:00 p.m. - Volleyball head coach Craig Skinner and student-athletes Whitney Billings and Alexandra Morgan
1:15 p.m. - Cross country head coach Edrick Floreal and student-athletes Cally Macumber and Matt Hillenbrand
1:30 p.m. - Women's Soccer head coach Jon Lipsitz and student-athlete Kayla King
1:45 p.m. - Men's Soccer head coach Johan Cedergren and student-athletes Tyler Riggs and Jack Van Arsdale

You can watch it all live below.


Video: Volleyball photo day 2013

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Alexandra Morgan competed for Team USA in China back in June (Barry Westerman, UK Athletics). Alexandra Morgan competed for the USA Development Team in China in June (Barry Westerman, UK Athletics).
Rarely does a student-athlete have the opportunity to represent her country and travel overseas to compete against some of the top talent in the world. In June, Rising senior Alexandra Morgan of the UK volleyball team got to do just that.

Thanks to Bring It Promotions, a program that helps create a connection between the United States and other countries across the globe through the game of volleyball, Morgan was chosen for the BIP/USA Development Program, a team of 12 players that would travel to China to play "top professional teams in and around Shanghai and Beijing," according to bringitusa.com.

This would not be Morgan's first trip overseas for the sport of volleyball, however. Morgan took a foreign trip with her UK teammates in the summer of 2009 to Europe for two weeks. But despite that, little could prepare her for the experience in China.

Morgan was gracious enough to journal during her time in China to share with the Big Blue Nation. Here is Morgan's experience in her own words:

Monday - June 17

Today was mostly traveling. We got out and explored some in Shanghai. I was surprised by how desperate they were to get you to buy their items. A lady followed one of my teammates down the street and waited for her for 15 minutes while she looked in another store. She yelled at her, "You give me money!!!"

The food was as expected: very different. I've eaten mostly rice and bread. A lot of things are vinegar-based. A lot of things sound familiar but aren't even close to what we have in the U.S., like pancakes. We arrived in Huaian City and are staying at the Huaian State Government House. We've gotten a lot of pictures. It's very hot and it not uncommon to see men with their shirts off and their pants undone.

Tuesday - June 18

Today we explored Huaian City. It seems like a poorer city. We walked around looking for supermarkets for water and snack bars. Some odd customs: the babies wear clothes with slits in the front and back instead of diapers.

We had practice in an un-air-conditioned gym and it as terrible. For dinner, we had a banquet with some members of the Chinese Government. They like to drink and they really wanted us to dance... So we did! We did "The Wobble" and the "Cha-Cha Slide" and they loved it! They served a table full of food and turtle was one of the dishes. Also, the eel was pretty good.
Team USA with members of the Chinese government.
Team USA with members of the Chinese government.

Wednesday - June 19

Today I tried pig tongue. It wasn't too bad. We went to Wal-Mart, which was similar to Wal-Mart in the U.S., but they didn't have as much. The scores of the games we played tonight: 21-25, 20-25, 13-25. We played OK, except for the third set.

Morgan with Team USA in Huaian City.
Morgan with Team USA in Huaian City.

Thursday - June 20

Today we went sightseeing. We saw a famous lake as well as a famous garden (Qingyan Garden). We traveled with the same government members that we ate with Tuesday night. We had a police escort everywhere and soldiers to keep us safe. Everyone was very excited to see us and they wanted a lot of pictures with us.
Qingyan Garden
Qingyan Garden

Friday - June 21

Today wasn't very eventful. We woke up, ate, had serve and pass, ate, played, then ate again. We did go to a mall (accidentally) because the cab/cart driver couldn't understand where we wanted to go. We ate at Pizza Hut, which is a very nice sit-down restaurant in China! We almost got kidnapped on the way back, though (Taken 3)!!!

Saturday - June 22

Today we traveled from Shanghai to Beijing. We had a quick practice and American food for lunch! The banquet was tonight. There was great food. We are now staying at the Aloft Hotel in Beijing. It is very nice and has many more people that speak English here! Our first game here is tomorrow night.
Some Chinese delicacies Morgan experienced.
Some Chinese delicacies Morgan experienced.

Sunday - June 23

Today we went to the pool. The cold water felt GREAT!

Monday - June 24

Today was our last game. We lost in three like we did every other game. We all went to this dance club called Vix. There was no one there when we got there, but they loved us and soon after, it was PACKED!!! We hung out with the PAC-12 girls too.

Wednesday - June 26

Today we woke up early to go to the Great Wall. There were about 1,000 steps we had to go up, then we walked awhile through the wall. It was very pretty and I signed a wall in one of the towers. We rode toboggans down the wall which was very fun. After the wall, we went to The Forbidden City. It was very big, pretty and old. The guide told us a lot of cool facts. Last, we visited Tiananmen Square which was very cool also. We ate dinner at some restaurant that was famous for their roasted duck. It was very good!
Morgan strikes a pose in front of a building in the Forbidden City. Morgan strikes a pose in front of a building in the Forbidden City.

Volleyball's Bergren keeps horse hobby in the family

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Volleyball setter Morgan Bergren has continued to ride horses during her year as she prepares for her sophomore season at UK. Volleyball setter Morgan Bergren has continued to ride horses during her year as she prepares for her sophomore season at UK.
Entering her sophomore year, volleyball setter Morgan Bergren feels more at home in Lexington than the average student-athlete.

Growing up just two miles from her father's farm, the Muncie, Ind., native began riding horses with her mother before she could even walk. Inspired by both her mother and father, who are still active in the horse industry, Bergren discovered her love for horses at a very young age.

Bergren's parents both grew up surrounded by horses and met for the first time at a horse show, so it's no surprise that Morgan took an early liking to the horse world.

"My mom showed at nationals when I was 3 months old, and there's pictures of me when I'm just a baby sitting in front of her on the saddle," Bergren said.

Bergren's "showing" career began at age 9 when her father got her started in halter, but she immediately decided that she was looking for something a little more fast-paced. Bergren describes halter as being similar to a dog show.

"They judge you on your trot, you walk one way and reverse, and they judge you on their walk," Bergren said. "Then you come to the center of the ring and stand them up and they judge their head, body, feet, legs, etc."

But despite her feelings about the event, Bergren continued to compete, and even took second place at regionals when she was 10.
 
One year later Bergren followed in the footsteps of her mother and began her riding career by competing in hunter. In hunter competitions, the rider actually sits on the horse and guides it through a series of tasks, including trotting, cantering, hand galloping, and walking.

Although the Bergren household is decorated with trophies and ribbons from successful competitions, there was adversity along the way.

"When I was 5, my first big experience on a horse was on our stallion named Razz. He was beautiful, but he was crazy," said Bergren. "He hated plastic, but my grandpa decided I should wear a plastic helmet for safety and I got bucked off and almost broke my middle finger."

Luckily, Bergren wasn't too traumatized by the incident, and like any true equestrian, she hopped right back on.

Another challenge came when Bergren started getting more involved in her club volleyball career.

"When I was younger we would go to three or four small shows and three regionals every year," said Bergren. "I didn't have to stop riding horses because of volleyball, but I only went to one regional and a few small shows during the year."

As Bergren continued to have success in volleyball - including leading her club team to an AAU National Championship in 2011 - she started getting attention from some elite programs.

"We came to Lexington every year, and I loved the horse park, but I never even saw the school," she said. "But when Kentucky started recruiting me, I thought it was pretty cool that it was so close. My parents really liked it here too."

Despite her demanding schedule as a student-athlete, Bergren still finds time to stay involved with her horses and take advantage of living in a city known as the "Horse Capital of the World."

"My mom and I went to a show this year and I got two first places and two second places," she said. 

Not surprisingly, Bergren "for sure" wants to continue riding and showing horses after she graduates from college.

"My dad knows horses so I'll have him pick me out a good horse to ride and show," said Bergren. "I love it."

Living in Lexington has allowed Bergren to watch her father compete in some big horse competitions, including an Egyptian event at the Kentucky Horse Park this June. At the same event, she also got to watch the hunter jumper competition, which is one of her many future aspirations.

"I've always wanted to go to Youth Nationals, and someday I really want to learn how to jump," Bergren said.

Because she grew up around mostly Arabian horses, Bergren didn't witness her first horse race until she went to Keeneland last year. Even though she enjoyed watching the race, Bergren doesn't foresee jockeying in her future.

"I have to ride our half Arabian, Junior, because I'm so tall, and my feet almost drag on the ground," she said.

However, there have been discussions about bringing the rest of the volleyball team out to Muncie to ride horses on the Bergren farm.

"I think it would be hilarious to see Lauren (O'Conner) on him," said Bergren.

Although you may not see the 6-foot-5 O'Conner on a horse anytime soon, Bergren will undoubtedly continue to pursue her passion for horses as much as possible during her time at UK.
 
The 2013 DanceBlue marathon raised $1,113,189.42 for the fight against cancer. (photo via DanceBlue) The 2013 DanceBlue marathon raised $1,113,189.42 for the fight against cancer. (photo via DanceBlue)
For 24 hours in a row, University of Kentucky students danced away their Friday and Saturday, and it was all for a great cause.

Memorial Coliseum played host to the eighth annual DanceBlue marathon, where a record $1,113,189.42 was raised for the fight against pediatric cancer. After the final total was revealed on Saturday evening, participants learned of a $500,000 endowment fund started by the late Joy Wills, who beat cancer three times and supported DanceBlue during her life.

"This year, with a record number of 800 dancers, DanceBlue was able to raise over $1.1 million for the Golden Matrix Fund to support cancer research at the Markey Cancer Center and child-life initiatives in the DanceBlue Kentucky Children's Hospital Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic," said Ethan Ritter, DanceBlue's 2013 Overall Chair. "It was a wonderful 24 hours that united our entire campus and state."

Include UK Athletics in that too.

Wildcat student-athletes, coaches, teams and the department at large lent their support in myriad ways. Multiple coaches - including John Calipari and Matthew Mitchell - took to the stage to encourage dancers, one of whom was former UK wide receiver La'Rod King. Any visitors to the marathon left in awe of the dedication and passion of the participants.

"I was blown away by the number of students in that gym Friday night dancing and raising money to fight pediatric cancer," Coach Cal said. "As I told them Friday, they may never do anything more meaningful than what they did with DanceBlue. It is hard to do something by yourself, but to come together like they did and raise more than a million dollars warms my heart. It will make a tremendous difference in the fight against cancer."

The women's soccer team took an even more active role.

The women's soccer team presented a check for $4,000 at the DanceBlue marathon. (UK Athletics) The women's soccer team presented a check for $4,000 at the DanceBlue marathon. (UK Athletics)
In September, the Cats held their second-annual "Kick Cancer" match. Inspired by a young fan who lost her battle with brain and spinal cord cancer, players wore special gold jersey that were later auctioned off. In addition, $1 from each ticket sold to UK's match against Mississippi State was set aside. With that money, the women's soccer team presented a check for $4,000 to DanceBlue.

"It means a lot for us as a team to be able to give back to the Lexington community and donate to something that we strongly believe in," head coach Jon Lipsitz said. "Allison Berger was someone who touched all of our hearts and so we will continue to do everything we can to fight this awful disease in her honor. Yes, we want to win games and win championships, but just as important is winning off the field, and this cause means a lot to our players, coaches, staff and university."

The donation by the women's soccer team instigated a little good-natured competitiveness from a fellow UK program. Volleyball head coach Craig Skinner, in addressing dancers, announced his team would hold a match of its own next season to benefit DanceBlue.

"I personally challenge Coach Lipsitz the volleyball team will raise more money than the soccer team next year," said Skinner before going on to propose the losing coach shave his head. Lipsitz may want to amend that wager considering he has substantially more hair to begin with.

Friendly jabs aside, DanceBlue - which has raised more than $5 million since its inception- has grown into something few could have imagined when it began in 2006. That good work will surely continue with or without the involvement of UK Athletics, but that involvement is appreciated nonetheless.

"The support from our athletic community was terrific," Ritter said. "Visits from our coaches got our dancers excited, the only thing they cheered more for were our clinic families. Our continued use of Memorial Coliseum for the event and the special events hosted by teams like women's soccer shows that UK Athletics truly takes interest in supporting events that improve our community."

The UK volleyball team and guests sit down for dinner at the Lexington Hilton for their end of the season banquet. The UK volleyball team and guests sit down for dinner at the Lexington Hilton for their end of the season banquet. (Ryan Suckow, UK Athletics)
After a second-straight trip to the Sweet 16, the Kentucky volleyball team held their annual season-ending volleyball banquet to celebrate the 2012 season.

The guest list was stronger than it had ever been as several fans, donors, season ticket holders, and family members were in attendance for the celebration as the team looked back on yet another successful season and said goodbye one last time to a highly-decorated senior class.

This highlight video was shown to commemorate the season and show off some of the top plays of the year and all of it's great moments at home.



Among the highlights of the evening was guest speaker and former Kentucky volleyball head coach Kathy DeBoer. During her time at UK, she led the Wildcats to their only appearance in the Elite 8, is the last coach to win an SEC Championship (1988), and led UK to their most successful season with a mark of 31-2 in the 1987 season.

Former UK head coach and AVCA president Kathy Deboer speaks addresses the crowd as guest speaker. (Ryan Suckow, UK Athletics) Former UK head coach and AVCA president Kathy DeBoer speaks addresses the crowd as guest speaker. (Ryan Suckow, UK Athletics)
DeBoer spoke to the team about several subjects about what they need to do to help get themselves over the hump and advance deeper in the NCAA Tournament. Through her memories as a head coach at Kentucky, her message was loud and clear: Enjoy and celebrate success, don't fear failure, learn to deal with adversity, and use all of that to become a better team.

After DeBoer's entertaining and thought-provoking address, it was time for the the staff to talk about their team, class by class, and give some of their favorite accounts of the season. Head coach Craig Skinner had the privilege to talk about his well-decorated senior class that was coming off back-to-back Sweet 16s and NCAA Tournament appearances every season as a Wildcat.

UK head coach Craig Skinner talks to the crowd about the 2012 Senior Class. (Ryan Suckow, UK Athletics) UK head coach Craig Skinner talks to the crowd about the 2012 Senior Class. (Ryan Suckow, UK Athletics)

From there, the seniors were recognized by their teammates. The ladies shared some of their favorite memories of the seniors and gave their thanks for their leadership and friendship during their time together as teammates and friends.

Red-shirt juniors Alexandra Morgan and Whitney Billings embrace senior Stephanie Klefot. (Ryan Suckow, UK Athletics) Redshirt juniors Alexandra Morgan and Whitney Billings embrace senior Stephanie Klefot. (Ryan Suckow, UK Athletics)

And for the grand finale, each senior (Stephanie Klefot, Christine Hartmann, Ashley Frazier) took to the podium to give their final farewells. There were tears and laughs, stories and gratitude. It was a bittersweet end to the night as we know what all three seniors have given to the UK volleyball program, but it is certain as they leave UK, they will represent the team and the University in a professional and admirable way.

With the banquet in the rear-view mirror, UK is looking forward to applying the lessons learned from DeBoer at the banquet and their experiences from the 2012 season. They're already back in the gym preparing for the 2013 season with the anticipation of working their very hardest to make sure that 2013 is one of the best years in program history.


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UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart announced a six-year contract extension Wednesday for head volleyball coach Craig Skinner. (Chet White, UK Athletics) UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart announced a six-year contract extension Wednesday for head volleyball coach Craig Skinner on Wednesday. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Craig Skinner was the third head coaching hire made by Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart. Skinner came in after former football head coach Rich Brooks and former women's basketball coach Mickie DeMoss. Hired in 2004, Skinner is not only still the head coach of the women's volleyball program at UK, but Barnhart announced Wednesday that Skinner would be staying around even longer with a six-year contract extension.

Skinner has essentially rebuilt the volleyball program at Kentucky, one that had struggled since the early 1990s, and has restored it to national prominence with three appearances in the Sweet 16 in the last four seasons. It's been the dedication of both Skinner and his staff as well Barnhart and his administration that has allowed the volleyball program to not only rebuild but to reach new heights in program history.

Wednesday's announcement signified the unified efforts and dedication to try and take the Kentucky volleyball program to the next level.

"We are doing some special things," said Skinner. "We have done some great things and we want to continually compete for championships each and every year. We want to make deep runs in the NCAA Tournament each year and be nationally recognized as the landscape of volleyball changes with the conferences changing."

The goal is to win championships at this point. Skinner has come close multiple times to winning an SEC championship, but has fallen just short. Those efforts will continue at an even stronger pace with a renewed vote of confidence from the administration.

His extension has Skinner fired up about next season and beyond as he looks to the future of the Kentucky volleyball program.

"To me, it's unbelievably exciting because in our sport, it doesn't happen very often that you get a contract of this length," said Skinner. "If it's exciting to me, I need to parlay that into our recruits, our current players, and I'm excited to take the next step and get better and never see a day that we aren't trying to improve ourselves. That the people we are trying to recruit understand that this is a long-term deal and something that we don't want to be OK, we want to be great."

The contract extension serves multiple purposes. First and foremost, it keeps one of the most highly esteemed volleyball minds at Kentucky to continue to build his program. The extension serves as a sign of stability to allow recruits and their families to know that Skinner will be coaching the Wildcats for the foreseeable future. It also allows Skinner to continue to raise his family in the only place that his children have ever called home.

"Megan (Skinner's wife) and I came here to Lexington wanting to raise our kids and come to a great place and we are grateful to have the opportunity to do that," said Skinner.

But now it's time to get to work.

Skinner isn't complacent. He never has been. And he's looking for ways to get over the hump. Reaching the Sweet 16 was a great first step, but this program, in his eyes and the eyes of the administration, is about setting their sights on winning those championships at both the conference and national levels.

This extension, along with some additional perks of the contract, should theoretically, and at some point realistically, allow Kentucky to not just compete for, but win those championships. Primarily, Skinner hopes that the new contract will help him be able to tell parents of recruits, "Yes, I'm going to be here if your daughter comes to Kentucky." He also hopes that it will allow him to go after and land some of the top volleyball talent in the country to help get him where he wants his program to be. That's why Barnhart felt it was necessary to keep his man, the guy he hired and is now the longest tenured Kentucky coach to be hired under Barnhart, to remain a Wildcat.

"Have people pursued Craig?" asked Barnhart. "I have no idea what all those conversations look like but we're foolish to think he's not on a lot of people's radar screen. We want to prevent that from happening. We don't want to give him any reason to go out there and pursue that.

"We want him here at Kentucky. He's an important part of us."

And because of that dynamic, the relationship has flourished and grown deeper, not only professionally but also personally.

"You get in the trenches with people and you're in with them, it gets personal," said Barnhart. "When you're standing in the hallway outside the locker room when you lose in the NCAAs and you see how hard they poured themselves into this deal and what it means. I think that slips away from us sometimes."

Barnhart was there with Skinner after his most recent loss, a 3-0 defeat at the hands of No. 1 seed and eventual Final Four participant Penn State. It's more than just words. It's more than just money. Both of these men are deeply invested in the growth of this program at all levels.

The next step for Skinner is to figure out exactly how to do it. That itself is a daily process.

"I think we try and learn every day," said Skinner. "We try and learn, 'Did we do this correctly? Are we attacking this system the right way?' I think as you get longer into the process, you learn quicker what works and what doesn't work."

What always helps that process is a strong roster full of talent. Not just talented athletes, but athletically gifted volleyball players who go about their business the right way. As important as Skinner might be to the structure of the program, the players he is coaching are the ones out of the floor, winning or losing games.

Thus far in Skinner's career, he's brought in several top-25 recruiting classes nationally. While he's been able to coach those players up, develop their skills, and teach them how to win in, he now seeks difference makers that possess unteachable skill and ability.

That's how you get to the next level.

"We all become a lot better coaches when we have great players," said Skinner. "Recruiting is everything. You need difference makers to get through the regionals, you need difference makers to win championships and we're continually seeking those players."

Those difference makes will not only affect the outcome of games, but will make huge differences in whether or not this program can reach those new heights.

"Going to the next level is big jump and I want our current players, our future recruits, our incoming players to understand, we've done great things but if we're satisfied with that then I don't want you to be part of this program," said Skinner. "I want people to be part of this program to compete with (national champion) Texas, to compete with the best teams in our league, to compete with teams going to the Final Four and it takes a heavy investment from myself, our players and a joint relationship with our administration to make that next pitch."

Video: Barnhart, Skinner announce new contract

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Thumbnail image for scratchies semiannual (2).jpg Guy Ramsey took on the rigorous task last holiday season of dubbing Wildcats esteemed victors of the 2011 Scratchies. The Scratchies commemorate the best of the best of the fall semester, celebrating the many achievements and top events and performers so far in the athletic calendar. Guy has, with great regret and sorrow due to a stressful and hectic schedule, passed along the duties of handing out these illustrious Wildcats to me. After putting in countless hours of research and analysis, consulting with the Cat Scratches brain trust, and many sleepless nights, it is with great honor that I present to you the winners of 2012 Scratchies for the fall semester...

MVW (Most Valuable Wildcat)
Cally Macumber (Cross Country) - The 2012 cross country season was one of the best in Kentucky history as junior Cally Macumber helped welcome new head coach Edrick Floreal with an individual SEC Championship. Macumber won the SEC Championship on Oct. 26, she earned SEC-best times in both the 5,000- and 6,000-meter events, won SEC Athlete of the Week twice, and was named 2012 SEC Cross Country Runner of the Year. She became the first Wildcat to win the women's SEC Title since 1989.

The Dream Team (team of the semester)
Volleyball - For the second time in as many seasons and the third in four years under head coach Craig Skinner, the Kentucky volleyball team advanced to the Sweet 16. Kentucky earned the No. 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament, giving the Cats the opportunity to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats defeated East Tennessee State to move on and face Ohio State. Kentucky won convincingly over the Buckeyes, 3-1, after dropping the first set.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they would be matched up with the No. 1 seed in Penn State in the West Lafayette, Ind., Regional. The six-time NCAA Champions fought off the Wildcats as UK made runs in the first two sets and ended another successful Kentucky season. The Cats finished the year with another 20-win season with a final record of 22-11. They faced one of the toughest schedules in the country, beat Tennessee twice, and had three Wildcats named All-Americans including second-team selection Whitney Billings and honorable mentions Stephanie Klefot and Christine Hartmann.

The Adolph Rupp Award (coach of the semester)
Jon Lipsitz (women's soccer) and Johan Cedergren (men's soccer) - The Kentucky soccer programs each reached new heights in the respective programs this season, and much of the credit goes to those running those teams. Women's soccer head coach Jon Lipsitz guided his team to the first NCAA Tournament win in program history with a victory over UT Martin in the first round. Kentucky racked up big wins against Louisville and Florida and finished 14-7-1 to cap off one of the best seasons in program history.

Johan Cedergren's first season at the helm of the men's program got off to a rocky start, but it didn't take long before he rallied the troops. The Cats dropped their first three matches of the season before getting in the win column against Saint Joseph's. The Wildcats' next win came in a huge upset over rival Louisville, which sparked a four-game win streak. After a tie against Memphis and losses to Indiana and Southern Methodist, Kentucky went on another four-game win streak to put itself in prime position to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003. Not only did Kentucky make the NCAA Tournament field, but the Cats were selected to host the first round for just the second time in program history. Kentucky fell to No. 19 Xavier in the first round, but UK finished with a 10-9-2 record and Cedergren looks to have his program on the rise.

The Butler-VCU Award (surprise team of the semester)
Men's soccer - When UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart hired Johan Cedergren to become the new head coach of the men's soccer program, most expected Cedergren to eventually right the ship and get the team headed in the right direction. But no one could have expected the run they would go on after starting the season 1-4-0. There was a gloomy outlook on the beginning of the season as Cedergren looked to install his style on his veteran squad. But the Wildcats got a broke out and broke through with an upset win on the road over rival Louisville. After the 1-4-0 start, Kentucky went on to post a 9-5-2 mark over its last 16 games, building a strong enough resume not only to make the NCAA Tournament, but also host the first round for the second time in program history.

One Shining Moment (best moment)

Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart introduces his newest hire in head football coach Mark Stoops in his first press conference. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart introduces his newest hire in head football coach Mark Stoops in his first press conference. (Chet White, UK Athletics)

Stoops Press Conference (football) - Kentucky football got a shot in the arm with the hiring of Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops as the new head coach at the University of Kentucky. It was a hire that reignited passion in the Kentucky football program as Stoops brings with him an impressive resume backed up by a pedigree of successful collegiate football coaches.

After an exhaustive coaching search, Barnhart found his man and officially named Stoops the next head football coach on Nov. 27. And for the first time as the new head coach, he was introduced to the media, donors, Kentucky Athletics staff and some fans for the very first time during an elaborate celebration/press conference on Dec. 2. Stoops and his family got to see firsthand what the Big Blue Nation is all about as he was first greeted by fans waiting outside of the Nutter Field House in the rain. As he entered, he was met by Kentucky cheerleaders and the sound of the Kentucky fight song on his way to the podium to meet Barnhart and UK President Eli Capilouto.

The hiring and the event sparked the Kentucky fan base and now has the state buzzing about football in the thick of the college basketball season.

The "Band is Out On the Field" Award (best game/match)
Volleyball comes back from 2-0 deficit at Tennessee - Kentucky was looking for its first season sweep of Tennessee since 1995. The Wildcats earned their first three-set sweep over the Volunteers since that same 1995 season in their first meeting of 2012. Knoxville, Tenn., had not been kind to the Wildcats in recent history, and it looked as if history would repeat itself once more. After the first two sets of the match, the Wildcats faced a 2-0 deficit at the break and it was all but certain that UK would split matches with UT.

The Wildcats came out angry and hammered the Vols, 25-14, in the third set. They then held off UT in set four, forcing the decisive fifth set with a 25-22 victory. Riding all of the momentum of the match, stealing it directly from the clutch of Tennessee's hands, Kentucky handled the Volunteers with a 15-5 in a set where UT never threatened. And for the first time in 17 years, Kentucky returned to Lexington with two wins over the neighbors to the south.

The Doug Flutie Hail Mary Award (best play)



Hubly's golden goal in 93rd minute earns first-ever NCAA Tournament victory - Kentucky and UT Martin were locked in a scoreless battle heading to overtime. The Wildcats had earned the right to host the first round as they sought the first NCAA Tournament win in program history. In the 93rd minute of the game, freshman Kelli Hubly came from the right wing, took a one-on-one opportunity, beat the defender and knocked her shot in past the diving UT Martin goalkeeper for the game winner.

Honorable mention: Janee Thompson's three, Azia Bishop's block clinch comeback win at Louisville for UK Hoops

All-Wildcat Team (the Scratchies equivalent of the All-America Team)
Cally Macumber (XC)- SEC Cross Country Runner of the Year, SEC Champion
Whitney Billings (volleyball) - Second-Team All-American
Avery Williamson (football)  - Second in SEC in tackles with 135 while adding three sacks
Larry Warford (football) - Three-year starter at offensive guard named All-American by AP
Stephanie Klefot (volleyball)  - SEC Libero of the Year for conference record third consecutive season
Arin Gilliland (women's soccer)  - First-Team All-SEC
Matt Lodge (men's soccer)  - First-Team All-C-USA
Steven Perinovic (men's soccer)  - First-Team All-C-USA
Greg Ferrucci (diving) - Two-time SEC Diver of the Week so far in 2012
Henri Junghanel (rifle)  - Tied a program best shooting a 597 in the air rifle event

All-Calipari Team (all-freshman team)
Courtney Raetzman (women's soccer)  - Freshman All-SEC scoring four goals with 12 total points
Kelli Hubly (women's soccer) - Scored six goals, including a game winner in the NCAA Tournament
Sara Schwarzwalder (volleyball)  - Freshman All-SEC tallying 149 kills (1.51 k/set) in 30 starts
Landon Foster (football) - Named to the first team Freshman All-America by Scout.com as well as earning All-SEC Freshman accolades
Archie Goodwin (men's basketball) -Averaging team-highs in points (15.8) and assists (4.4) through 10 games
Nerlens Noel (men's basketball) - Putting up impressive numbers across the board, averaging 10.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 2.8 spg, 3.9 bpg through his first 10 games
Rebecca Hamperian (diving) - Named SEC Female Freshman of the Week (Nov. 6)

All-Up-and-Comers (non-freshmen on the rise)
Kyle Wiltjer (men's basketball) -First double-double with 23 points, 12 rebounds vs. Lipscomb (averaging 11.7 points on the season)
Zan Morgan (volleyball)  - Started for the first time as junior in 2012 averaging 2.3 kills/set and 1.1 blocks/set
Samarie Walker (women's basketball) - Has started all 10 games this season averaging 9.0 points and 7.6 rebounds
Charles Pettys (men's soccer) - Scored six goals in his junior campaign in 18 games this season
Liz Breed (women's golf) - The junior shot a 2-under-par (70) helping UK to a 6-under-par score, a record low round in program history, at the Alamo Invitational in San Antonio, Texas
Will Bishop (men's golf) - The sophomore won the Cabo Collegiate shooting 2-under-par for the event to pick up his first collegiate victory

He said what? (quote of the semester) - "We've been sitting in the office for three years going, '2012, 2012, 2012. And that doesn't mean we didn't think it could happen before. We almost did it last year, but it was our dream that we knew it was going to happen this year. We knew." - Jon Lipsitz after women's soccer won the first NCAA Tournament game in program history.

The Dougie Award
Coach Mitchell dances to MC Hammer at Big Blue Madness

Recent Comments

  • Wachs89: This video does a excellent job of capturing the spirit of UK basketball from the team, the anouncer, the video read more
  • Dean Geary: Walt is a fantastic athletic trainer and a fantastic person. I learned a lot under Walt while at UK have read more
  • Mark Pope: GREAT YEAR !!! Missing my 4 talented seniors already.. Went to Knoxville & did OUR thing !! Best COACH the read more
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