Tradition continues with Coach Cal Skype call

By Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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University of Kentucky Men’s basketball Coach John Calipari joined Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini to speak via Skype with Kentucky Guardsmen deployed overseas Oct. 22, 2015. Guardsmen with the 441st Survey and Design Team also were in attendance prior to their deployment in October, 2015. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The University of Kentucky is steeped in traditions, especially when it comes to basketball. Head coach John Calipari helped keep a tradition alive by chatting via Skype with deployed Kentucky Guardsmen from UK’s training facility in Lexington, Oct. 22.

From the UK practice court, Calipari began by thanking the Guardsmen for what they do and how glad he was to see the gatherings of Wildcat fans on the other end again for this special meeting. Soldiers of the 1163rd Area Support Medical Company in Afghanistan, Bravo Company, 351st Aviation in the Middle East shared the video screen and some time to discuss Kentucky Basketball with the coach.

In addition, three Soldiers from the 441st Survey & Design Team were on hand to meet Coach Cal and ask questions of their own.

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Soldiers with the 1163rd Area Support Medical Company and Bravo Company, 351st Aviation speak via Skype with University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball Head Coach John Calipari from UK’s training facility in Lexington, Ky., Oct. 22, 2015. The event was the fourth conversation in the last five years between Calipari and deployed Soldiers. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“We’re very appreciative of Coach Cal to take time out of his busy schedule to give back to the state of Kentucky and the military as a whole by giving us well wishes and safe travels as we leave for our deployment,” said Spc. Jermaine Higgins, a technical engineer with the 441st. “What a send-off.”

Click here for more photos.

The 441st is scheduled to depart Kentucky for Afghanistan later this month.

Calipari entertained each and every question from the Soldiers, from his concerns for the upcoming season to how he and his players manage stress. Senior Forward Alex Poythress also sat in on the conversation as an added treat for the Soldiers.

The Skype call was the fourth such event in the last five years. In 2015, a winter storm broke the streak, but Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, Kentucky’s adjutant general said the meeting had to continue. He called the conversation a fun and unique way to interact with Guardsmen overseas.

“Being deployed around the globe, our Guardsmen need every reminder of home,” said Tonini. “Everyone knows Coach Cal is a member of our team and I thank him for his generosity. This special conversation could be a highlight of the deployment for many of our Soldiers, and I’m glad we could bring it to them.”

“Any chance we can get to thank the dedicated men and women of our military, we do it,” said Calipari. “They’re over there fighting for our freedoms, and if we can give them a reason to stand up and cheer or get mad at a losing a game, which last season, there was only one of those, to bring them joy, we’re honored to do so.”

 

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