College Football, SEC

Kentucky Football: Joe Craft Football Training Facility


 
With Spring Break for LSU kicking off yesterday, I’m finally planning some time to catch up on all the things that I need to catch up on – you know, all the not fun stuff. Cleaning, unpacking, grocery shopping… One thing’s for sure though, Spring Break will be my time to catch up on some sleep! For the back half I will be in Austin with my family, but for the first half I will be here in Baton Rouge.
 
The last two weeks were advising weeks for our student-athletes so my mind and my desk have been total utter chaos. I finally got it cleaned up today and my appointments are winding down! So to celebrate, I took some time during my lunch break to finally check out my pictures from my visit to Kentucky’s Football Training Facility.
 
Two weeks ago I followed my Red Raiders to Lexington, KY for the Texas Tech vs. UK Baseball Series (check that out here!). One of our academic advisors came here from Kentucky Football and was nice enough to set me up with a little tour of their facilities!
 
Ricky Lumpkin was kind enough to hang out with me Monday afternoon and take me around the facilities. Ricky played football at Kentucky before going on to play for the Arizona Cardinals and the Oakland Raiders. He’s now back at Kentucky working as one of the Football Advisors and getting ready to start doing his Master’s degree. Chatham Boyer also hung out with us for part of the morning. Chatham was a swimmer at Kentucky and is now the other Football Advisor.
 
Kentucky Football just opened up this facility about two years ago. It’s brand new – and it looks like it! The entry is gorgeous. I’m absolutely jealous of it. I won’t lie, Kentucky probably has one of the nicest football facilities that I’ve seen – even nicer than LSU’s. But, that’ll change. LSU has already approved a new one. Facilities in sports are a total Keeping Up with the Jones’s thing.
 
Oh, did I mention it snowed 14 inches overnight on Monday?
 

 
Kentucky’s Football Training Facility (I’ll call it the FTF) is right across the alleyway from Kroger Field. We didn’t get to check out Kroger Field because of the snow, but that’s okay – I’ll be back at some point for a basketball game and I’ll get to check it out then.
 
The FTF is off the beaten path compared to the other athletic facilities. The Men’s Basketball offices are housed over in the Memorial Coliseum, along with the rest of the athletic department, other sports, and the academic center. That was an awesome place to check out with all of the basketball history in that school! But I’ll save those pictures for my return for a basketball game!
 
As for the FTF, talk about spoiled!
 

 
Ricky said that this is the trophy that the team is most proud of. This is the Wuerffel Trophy, which is awarded to the college football player who demonstrates excellence in academics, athletics, and community service. Courtney Love won it this past year. Courtney Love was one of the best linebackers in the country this past season. He was a transfer from Nebraska and helped Kentucky Football come back into the spotlight this last year. Kentucky isn’t particularly known for football, so the fact that Love helped lead them to a bowl game this year says a lot. They’re really trying to turn their program around and be more than just a basketball school – and you can totally tell from how all-out they went on this facility!
 

 
This little booth is really cool – it puts you into any Kentucky Football picture you could imagine! The stadium, the tunnel, the crowd… Pretty awesome for recruits.
 
Ricky took me upstairs first to check out the meeting rooms and the film suite.
 

 
All teams have one large meeting room for everyone and then smaller rooms for individual positions. These are usually always by the coaches’ offices too.
 
Kentucky’s large meeting room might be my favorite that I’ve seen so far (in person, at least!)
 

 
Their hallways around their coaches’ offices all have TVs running film and promotional videos, and then they have this gorgeous seating area that overlooks their weight room. I mean seriously… how amazing is that wood panel wall?! I’d spend all my time doing work in here if I was with Kentucky. Just so awesome. And usually wood paneling isn’t my thing.
 

 
Our next stop was the all-football weight room downstairs that runs right out onto the practice fields (featuring Ricky walking through the middle picture). What would you give to work out in a place like this?!
 
At most schools, all of the football staff is allowed to use the weight room facilities when the team isn’t working out. We used ours at Texas Tech and TCU. Usually this doesn’t extend out to regular athletics administration employees, but it usually covers the nutrition staffs, the academics staffs, etc. that work with football.
 

 
Their training room is pretty great, too. I mainly wanted to mention the training room because of the last photograph. So these five players are individuals who played at Kentucky and overcame major injuries. The furthest one is Ricky. I thought this was so cool.
 
He filled me in on his story – three knee surgeries from high school through college. And he STILL went pro and had a fulfilling NFL career. I absolutely commend him for that hard work and perseverance! I really enjoyed getting to know Ricky through this tour.
 

 
The middle picture… it’s hard to see from the glare (sorry, amateur photographer skills at their finest) but that’s an entire room dedicated to Gatorade. It’s a Gatorade Bar. Dreams do come true. Honestly, my favorite part about working with the Atlanta Falcons was all the free Gatorade, whenever you wanted. Ricky and I snagged a few to take on the rest of the tour.
 
Every FTF has some sort of display dedicated to their alumni in the NFL and what teams they’re with. Every team I’ve seen so far uses the helmets of the teams, but not Kentucky. This was so unique! They use the gloves of the teams. When you put the gloves together in the proper form for catching a football, it makes the logo of the team. Props to Kentucky for thinking outside the box. This is my favorite dedication wall so far!
 

 
Speaking of unlimited Gatorade, they also have a cafeteria for the players. During the day it’s football only, but for dinner it’s open to all sports. UK was closed for Spring Break the week I was visiting, so it’s pretty plain in here right now. But can you imagine what this looks like when there’s food out? They eat like kings. Working in football was great for my tastebuds but HORRIBLE for my waistline!
 

 
Then we made our way down their totally blue hallway of history. This was pretty cool, too – they have a picture of every one of the SEC stadiums on a game night. Of course, I had to take a picture of Death Valley.
 

 
Not so good for LSU fans, but pretty cool from Kentucky. This was a picture from their upset of #1 LSU back in 2007.
 
And now for our grand finale…
 

 
Kentucky Football’s locker room. Their entry is hard to beat. On one side, they have their equipment display with championship rings mixed in and on the other side, they have their opponent schedule.
 
But then, you walk into this…
 

 
How incredible, right? For a non-powerhouse football program, you sure wouldn’t know it based on their facilities.
 
Each player has their own individual locker with a phone charger and a padded seat. Ricky said that there’s an entire sound system in the locker room with a USB hook-up, so any of the players can put their phone on it. Might be dangerous given some of the music they like… but still pretty cool!
 

 
They have their own little hot tub in here with a TV.
 
And then on top of it… they have a barber chair! I knew Oregon had one, but I didn’t know anyone else did.
 
And then finally, there’s this cold tub that leads out to the practice fields. Ricky says they’ll all come in, walk from this side to the next, and then inside that metal pulldown wall is a drying room. Wish I had a drying room. Would sure make having long hair easier.
 

 
And then the beautiful practice fields covered with snow. I know to some it might be normal, but I never see snow like this! It’s definitely not Kroger Field, but it was still beautiful! Not to mention that running hill over there would make the perfect hill to sled down on…
 
That wraps it up for Kentucky Football’s Joe Craft Football Training Facility! If you missed out on my actual trip for UK’s match up against Texas Tech Baseball, check it out here! I’ll see you again soon for a little basketball, Lexington! In the meantime, wish me luck on my haircut…
 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

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