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Close Encounter of the “Fan” Kind

BY TINA COX

Have you ever had a “fan” encounter that if you could do all over again you would? An encounter that left you asking why didn’t I? An encounter that wasn’t planned,  just pure luck.

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It was September of 2009 and my daughter and I were shopping at the Fayette Mall. We both noticed the three young men walking towards us at the same time. “Please don’t do something stupid,” she whispered under her breath. I grabbed her by the arm did an about face and headed into Foot Locker. We were ten feet behind Eric Bledsoe, John Wall and Darius Miller. “Just look at shoes Courtney,” were the only words I could think of that would not make us look obvious. Ten minutes later I am standing at the counter purchasing a pair of $125 shoes for my daughter and still no plan. As we exited I shook their hands and thanked them for coming to UK, no autograph or photo to commemorate the event. Just a handshake, $125 poorer and another pair of shoes for my daughter’s closet.

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I was attending one of the first of Coach Cal’s Women’s Clinics, I cannot remember what year but there were only about 350 attendees so I am thinking year 2 or 3. I have always been a somewhat of a rebel at this event and try to make my own rules, imagine that. As they gathered the attendees in Memorial Coliseum I took a seat across the gym floor, opposite of everyone else. I did not want to be obvious so I sat beside a thirty something guy who I presumed was part of the U.K. staff. The nice looking guy dressed in shorts and a UK shirt asked if I wanted a picture. “No thank you I am good,” I responded. I thought this to be strange but the fact that intrigued me more was that he had no hair on his legs. Fifteen minutes later Coach Calipari introduced Josh Hopkins as the guest for the night. My age had shown. I had no clue who he was.

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I was and still am a fan of Oprah Winfrey. Imagine the excitement when I applied and was picked to be a special guest on one of her last episodes. It took me weeks to find the perfect dress. Finally, I decided on a light purple tank dress, her favorite color. I will not go into the details of the day except to say it was a dream come true. I was not on stage but since I was a designated special guest we were brought onto stage to meet her personally. I nervously watched the other women in front of me shake her hand and exchange words. I practice in my head over and over what I would say.  It would be the best seven seconds of my life. This is how it went.

Oprah: Hello, (looks at name tag) Tina. So glad you were able to make it today. I am so proud of the journey you have been on.
Me: ———-blank stare———
Oprah: I love your dress. Purple is my favorite color.
Me: Thank you

All the rehearsing was not enough. I could find no words. Just a brief encounter with one of the most powerful women in the world and a purple dress that will forever hang in my closet.

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Sometimes you just have to grasp an opportunity and thanks to Terry Brown that is exactly what I did at the NCAA tournament this year in Atlanta. “There’s Sister Jean,” Terry whispered as we made our way into the Media Dining Area. My media button went into my pocket and somehow I made my way between her four security guards surrounding her wheelchair. Thanks to the crowd in the tunnel slowing her entourage down I was able to obtain eye contact and ask for a picture. She smiled and asked one of her security guards to take the picture. Sometimes you just have to step out of your box.

Just remember if the opportunity is there grasp it, but do not interrupt meals or family time!

Follow me @tcox5470

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