Football Season is Here!!

Football starts tonight, y'all. Real, live SEC football.

I have to admit that, when planning to attend an event tonight, a little part of me thought "Well, I can get back in plenty of time to watch Vandy-Ole Miss." But, you know, we can't put our Thursdays and Saturdays on hold from now through the end of the year, right? Well, of course we can. It's football season!

Now, my beau and I are HUGE Kentucky football fans. We've followed the team through ups and downs, and are interested to see what the Stoops era brings.
Tomorrow is College Colors Day.  I love the idea that, all across the country, people are gearing up to cheer on their own favorite teams. For me, college colors will always mean Kentucky blue, but there are so many schools across the Commonwealth who are gearing up for big seasons. Personally, I never miss a chance to cheer for my parents' alma maters of Morehead and EKU. There's talk that Louisville is going to have a pretty good team as well. And who can ignore the fact that WKU has a colorful new coach?

Are y'all as excited for football season as I am? What colors are you wearing tomorrow?

Couples Tailgate Shower: A Guest Post from Just Lovely Katherine

Katherine of Just Lovely Katherine is one of my very favorite bloggers.  She's the modern Southern Belle -- sweet, adorable, and creative.  She's also a Lexington-based attorney and is planning her wedding in her "spare time."  Katherine graciously offered to share some photos and planning tips from a fabulous tailgate shower she recently threw.  I think y'all will love it! -- HCW
"We're a drinking town with a football problem!" Or so say some! As most of you are probably aware (or totally unaware because we aren't even on your radar), the University of Kentucky isn't exactly known for its tradition of great football. So around here, it's all about the tailgating! Bring together family, friends, food and fun and what better lineup than that for a couples shower, tailgate-style! Even though we don't do football well here at Kentucky, we still like to throw a tailgate that would make any SEC team proud! So, here's how to go about throwing a Couples Shower Tailgate.

Let's break this down into list form, because lists are my thing
  1. The first step in planning any party is to pick a theme. Well, let's back up...first go to A Pair of Pears blog and download their Party Planning Printables. Their free worksheets are fabulous for keeping organized! Now, decide on a theme. Head over to Pinterest and start looking for inspiration (thank heavens for Pinterest!) 
  2. Once you have an idea of the overall look and feel of the party, the next step is to come up with a guest list and order invitations. I had Mary Ellen at Mellen Designs come up with a custom invitation for our tailgate shower. Her work is darling and the invite turned out so perfect! She incorporated UK and monograms! She can create anything, so be sure to get in contact with her for your next party!
  3. After creating a guest list, you should have some sort of idea of how many folks will be attending your soiree, so start thinking about what types of food and beverages you will be serving. For our tailgate shower, we went with delicious southern style BBQ from a local restaurant. Great for feeding the masses! For drinks, we had planned on getting a keg (remember, it's a tailgate afterall), but ended up just purchasing a trunk-load of cases of beer. Keep in mind that when most guests come to the shower, they are also coming to other words, you will need plenty of beer (more than you would for your typical shower)! I think we planned for 5-6 beers per person. 
  4. Now, we have a guest list, invitations mailed out, food selected and ordered, what next? The fun part! Decorations! Like I suggested above, Pinterest is a fabulous source for inspiration. Gather ideas you like, then you can DIY (or attempt to DIY)! One thing to keep in mind - you will have to haul all this stuff to the stadium and back. 
  5. If you are co-hosting an event, be sure to take some of the pressure off yourself by assigning tasks for the other hosts. You can't do it all on your own! I asked my fellow bridesmaids to bring side dishes, desserts, serving things etc. 
  6. Try to incorporate your team colors, football and the honorary couple wherever you can. Then just concentrate on the details that really make a shower special. I painted some flower pots in blue and white an added a "T" for the couple's last name. I planted flowers and a small tree in them and sent them home with the bride and groom-to-be. I made bunting by cutting small rectangles our of fabric and hot gluing them to cord. I also made a rag-type bunting to decorate the food tent. Simply cut up strips of fabric and knot over a long string or ribbon. I baked a blue and white cake and made little "r {heart} j" cake toppers. You can get the little wooden letters and shapes at your local craft store. Glue them to a dowel rod and paint. Easy peasy!
That's about all there is to it! If you are smart, you might consider doing this for an away game and throwing a tailgate shower at home! It was a lot of work to take everything to the stadium and get it set up. Plus, the couple had to haul all their gifts back after the shower. Despite the hauling, it was a huge success and everyone had a fabulous time!!! And no...UK didn't pull out a win!

What Cheerleading Camp and Sorority Rush Can Teach Kentucky Fans

I wrote this post for The Kentucky Girls blog last year, after a particularly ugly loss to Florida. It seems apropos for Wildcat football fans this season as well. Go 'Cats. -- HCW
We smiled, but we weren't cheering for a winning team.
If I ever have a kid, I'm going to insist that she become both a cheerleader and a sorority girl. Now, I'm fully aware that I've just articulated the most ridiculous, outdated Southern cliché that one can imagine. The thing is, I'm not claiming that my hypothetical future daughter's most important life goals should be back handsprings or paint-pen crafts.  But, I certainly believe that this tried-and-true path to Southern womanhood taught me a few important lessons.  Lessons that extended to my professional and social well-being. Lessons that, if you'll kindly indulge me a few moments' explanation,could most assuredly be passed along to the Big Blue Nation right about now.  
  • Keep smiling. My tiny Eastern Kentucky high school wasn't exactly known for its football program. In fact, my sophomore year was the first winning season in the football team's history. But, no matter how mediocre our game, my job as a cheerleader was to smile. And provide encouragement. Because I loved our team.   You keep smiling.  You work out your differences in private. And you strengthen your organization without presenting outward displays of strife for the entire world.  As fans, we need to keep smiling-- we need to support the players we have and support the organization we love while acknowledging that there's plenty of room for improvement. 
  • Remember that you're here because you want to be.  Whenever I got discouraged about any aspect of cheering or sorority life, my mama was always quick to remind me that I chose to be there. In fact, I was spending plenty of money for the privilege to be there.  We're Kentucky fans.  We always have been.  We're paying for the privilege of football tickets.  We'll pay for the privilege of tickets to what promises to be an incredible basketball season.  Because we want to wear Kentucky Blue.
  • You don't always like everyone. Get over it. I spent four years as a part of a hundred-or-so-member sorority. I'd spent the previous decade on ten-to-fifteen member cheerleading squads. (For that matter, I've sat on more Junior League committees than I can begin to count...) There were enough in-fights, infidelities and intrigues to provide the CW with a year's worth of new material. Of course I didn't like all the girls involved. Some, I outright loathed. But I learned to keep it to myself, because the greater good of the group was more important. Maybe you don't like Joker's style of coaching.  Maybe you think that your quarterback should put in more than two or three stellar minutes of play.  While there are certainly adjustments to be made, at some point, we need to realize that this is the lineup we have for the year.
  • Sorority Bid Day.
  • Maybe it was better in the past. That's kind of immaterial to the present. Some years, my cheer squad found ourselves undermanned and rudderless after a talented group of seniors graduated. Sometimes, my sorority suffered a lackluster rush and subsequently recruited a small pledge class. Sometimes, the football team for whom I was cheering did not replicate the storied First Winning Season that we enjoyed in 1991. These things happen. We miss Randall a whole lot right now.  Hartline -- 'stache or no-- sure does sound good.  They aren't coming back.
These lessons from the land of hairbows and ribbon belts served me well as I entered the real world.  They taught me to accept situations that I wish were otherwise.  They taught me to adjust my attitude toward crappy situations.  And, well, they're lessons that a whole lot of Wildcats fans would be well-advised to learn this year.

via AJ's Casuals.
Every early indicator tells us that this is going to be an ugly, ugly football season. We've logged two back-to-back losses that have left many of us wondering whether any of the remaining 8 games can be won. It's an exhausting, frustrating thing to be a Kentucky football fan right now-- all we can do, it seems, is count the days until Keeneland and basketball. But, the thing is, we don't stop being Kentucky fans when the team sucks. No matter how disgusting Saturday's game was, I doubt any of you burned your Wildcat gear and started making that Gator-chomp thing. (If you did, then this blog probably isn't for you...) If the next few games play out as badly as I fear (it's gonna take a lot of bourbon to get through the LSU game...), then we need to keep smiling, sorority girl-style, and maintain a little grace and decorum until the post-season.  It just seems the proper thing to do...

Big Blue Fashion Find: Knights Apparel

When I was in school, UK football games were a "jeans and sweatshirt" affair. We dressed up for Keeneland and we looked nice for basketball, but we left the tailgate sundresses to our sisters in the SEC West. After all, they do it so well.

These days, Wildcat girls are really stepping it up. Cute blue dresses are paired with sassy cowboy boots all over Commonwealth Stadium. The Orange Lot is still a far cry from The Grove, but we're doing our conference proud.

Today, I ran across a little game day dress that gives me the best of both worlds -- a soft polo-style dress emblazoned with the UK logo. It's as comfortable as a well-loved vintage tee, but far more stylish.

The best part? It was $23. At Wal-Mart.

You heard me right. This adorable Knights Apparel game day dress. Under $25. At the Wal-Marts. I'd advise you to run out and pick one up at once.

State Traditions Giveaway

 The Big Game is today, and we want to hear what you're wearing.  Red, Blue, or Neutral?

To help us out, the awesome folks at State Traditions are giving away a prize pack -- a koozie, stickers, and the Kentucky Gameday Hat of your choice-- to one lucky HerKentucky winner.

To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below, and leave a comment letting us know whether you'll be wearing Cardinal Red or Wildcat Blue today.  If you're covering all your bases, like Governor Brown famously did in the Eighties, we want to hear about that, too!

Giveaway ends at midnight Monday September 3.  Winner will be contacted on Tuesday the 4th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The First Lady of Kentucky Football: an interview with Dr. Leslie Phillips

As Sunday's big UK - U of L game draws near, I'm obsessed with all things college football.  I was so thrilled that Dr. Leslie Phillips agreed to an interview.  Leslie is a busy lady -- in addition to her duties as Coach Phillips' wife, she's a professor of Kinesiology at Georgetown College.  I really enjoyed getting to know Leslie through this interview.  She's smart, gracious, and lovely -- important qualities for the First Lady of Kentucky Football!  -- HCW

Like many of our readers, you're a native Kentuckian. Tell us a little about yourself. 

I was born in Fort Worth, TX but only lived there for about a year. I grew up in Lexington. I graduated from Henry Clay High school and UK (3 times!). 

How did you and Coach Phillips meet? 
 Joker and I met while in school at UK. His roommate was Lexington native, George Adams, who I knew because my father was a volunteer basketball coach at Lafayette High School for a period of time when George was there. George introduced us in a sociology class. Also, I worked part-time at the Rec Center on campus (Seaton Ctr.) at that time and would see Joker there when he would come over to play basketball. 

You earned your PhD while traveling on the coach's wife circuit. How did you choose kinesiology, and how did you make the logistics of your education work while Coach was putting in his time at different schools? 

Well, my PhD is in Educational Psychology with an emphasis on health psychology. It is really an applied psychology degree. My masters degree was in exercise physiology. I took classes part-time at UK for a few years while working with UK’s Employee Wellness Program. Then, when Joker took a job at the University of Minnesota, I moved away and was ABD (all but dissertation). I began my dissertation research study there in Minneapolis but then Joker took another job after 2 years in Minneapolis at Notre Dame. That move really hindered my ability to recruit subjects for my study and the study “went down the tubes.” I was very frustrated and thought many times about quitting – I would joke what I may be going from ABD to NGD (Not Gonna Do!). But, I had begun studying yoga extensively while in Minneapolis so I decided to start over and chose a dissertation topic that related to my interest in yoga. After one year at Notre Dame and then one season at South Carolina we packed up again moving back to Lexington when Rich Brooks hired Joker on his first staff! The move back to Lexington was a huge help to me in being able to meet with my professors and buckle down and complete the PhD program. It was a long road but worth it! 

You are married to one of the most high-profile men in the state and you have a great career of your own. How do you balance the roles of "First Lady of Football" and "Professor"? 

It’s very challenging from a time management standpoint. To me, my college teaching work is my priority but, my “second job” is my role related to football! Although there is no defined role for wives of football coaches I do like to be involved in the recruiting as well as hosting players and staff at various times. All of the wives on this coaching staff are involved to the extent that they can be in recruiting weekends and hosting players at various times. It contributes to the close-knit, family atmosphere that we try to cultivate with the program. 

What is it like watching a game from a coach's wife's perspective? 

Leslie and Joker on a Service Trip to Ethiopia.
 It can be pretty nerve wracking but I love it! I love college football in general. But, when you have gotten to know the players and you know how hard everybody involved has worked you just want so badly for the team to have success. 

I doubt there's much down-time in the Phillips household, but what do y'all do when you "turn football off"? 

Very little down time is right! We might workout or go for a walk. We might watch a movie. We do go out for dinner quite a bit. We love to travel to see concerts when we can get away to do that. 

What advice do you have for women who are aspiring to careers in academia? 

Well, I once read that even a bad job in academia is better than most other jobs. My path into teaching is a bit different in that I entered into the field later after working for a number of years in the health promotion field. I have always enjoyed the work that I have done but I find academia very enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong; it has been a lot of work to transition into academia but I enjoy interacting with young people. I continue to learn as I teach and I find the mentoring aspect of teaching very rewarding. 

Predictions for the U of L game? 

I predict it will be really hot so I will dress appropriately and hydrate! (Haha) No predictions from me - I got out of the football prediction business a long time ago. I’m looking forward to it, though!

On Wildcat Football

November 2002. Oh, we've all been tailgating for a while and this LSU game is over, I think. Good job 'Cats. I'm gonna sneak on out, pick up some beer, and have people over for a post-victory party. That one didn't quite turn out the way I planned. Some miracle.

December 2006. My beau and I are newly engaged and joining in the Music City Bowl festivities. We walk from our downtown Nashville hotel amidst friends and fans, jubilant in the experience of our first bowl game in six whole years, y'all. As we enter the gates, my mood starts to dip. The ticket lady points me toward a little basket, the kind they use to measure carry-on bags at the airport. She briskly informs me that if my purse doesn't fit in there, I can't take it in the stadium. Fighting back tears, I start to visualize the trek over the bridge, up the hill, and back to the Hermitage. Another ticket lady promptly takes pity on me and announces "That's a real nice bag; you take that right on in, baby." Louis Vuitton saved the day. So did André Woodson -- we wound up beating Clemson!

Music City Bowl, 2007.
I love Kentucky football. Now, as y'all well know, I love Kentucky basketball, too. The thing is, I probably love Kentucky basketball too much. In the lingo of women's magazines, my relationship with the football 'Cats is far more healthy. I have fun with football and honestly enjoy the entire experience. I have a full set of cute little anecdotes about the zany experiences I've had at tailgates and games. When it comes to basketball, though, I'm obsessed. I think of Rich "Paw Paw" Brooks as a nice man who turned our program in the right direction while I consider Coach Cal to be the demigod who single-handedly saved the Commonwealth. To me, Bear Bryant was a savvy coach who got called home while Rick Pitino is a treasonous infidel. I'm always up for a tailgate party, while I prefer to watch the basketball 'Cats with minimal distractions. I'm the consummate hostess in September, whipping up small bites and fun drinks, but I prefer a March with no distractions. You never know how that 8-9 matchup in the West Region will impact the Wildcats' chances of winning it all. There will be time for food later.

I actually have more fun at football games because I'm not an insane fan. Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Every play doesn't have the ramifications of potentially impacting our historic next title. I'm not moved to tears when I talk of football players' motivation, athleticism, or leadership, while the mere mention of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's name can evoke waterworks. I've never floated "Jared Lorenzen" or "Tim Couch" as a potential baby name. Perhaps jokingly -- even I am not quite sure -- I've suggested "DeMarcus" many times.

UK-UT game, 2009.
I always assume that I love the Football 'Cats the way people at normal, non-SEC schools love their teams. I want them to win, but I don't talk about them every day of my life. Maybe that's what it's like to be a sports fan outside of the Greatest Conference in Collegiate Athletics. (This article sums the SEC up far more hilariously than I ever could.) I'm not alone; Kentucky girls don't need to tailgate in our Lilly Pulitzer the way they do at The Grove, because we've got two whole months of Keeneland to dress up for every year. We enjoy our football, but we grew up in a gym.

I come from basketball-mad Eastern Kentucky, just down the road from the great "King" Kelly Coleman's hometown. My aunt was John Pelphrey's high school teacher. Where I'm from, basketball is an all-day, every day occurrence. You can't go to a church, hospital or grocery store without engaging in an intense conversation about recruiting or scheduling. (This year, everybody's worried about the lack of small forwards. And, you know, the poor widow at this funeral. But mainly those forwards.) I suppose if I'd grown up in Alabama, I'd be calling into the Paul Finebaum show every day. I'd say things like "PAWWWWLLLL, don't you think Chizik and Miles should both just forfeit this year instead of coming to Tuscaloosa? Yeah, me too. Roll Tide." (Ok, well, I might still do that, because Finebaum calls are awesome.)

I love that football season gives me a chance to be a regular old fan. I wear my blue, cheer for my team, and tailgate with my friends. I watch games, cheer for teams I like, and enjoy myself. It's a fun time to be a UK alumna and a native Kentuckian. Most of all, it's just fun.