By LARRY VAUGHT
He grew up in a military family — his father was a 25-year Army Veteran — in Bowling Green and started to fall in love with University of Kentucky sports in the 1974-75 time frame when he was about 11 years old.
Tim Bibbs has married, retired from the military and now lives in Maryland. However, one thing has never changed — his support of UK athletics.
“Pretty much like all of Kentuckians growing up, you either root for UK or U of L. My home was split between the two, and thank God I made the better choice of choosing UK,” Bibbs said. “I’ve been an avid UK fan ever since, and have never liked another team besides UK.”
Bibbs admits he was “fascinated” by battleships, aircraft carriers and naval war planes as a child. He would build model replicas of the warships and planes and use them to replicate certain naval battles from World War II.
“As I grew older I realized that I wanted to join the Navy, and after one year at Western Kentucky University, I decided to join the U.S. Navy as a Cryptologist/Intelligence Analyst,” Bibbs said.
Early in his career he was stationed in Italy and Scotland. He watched what UK games he could on the Armed Forces Network, he had to rely on the Stars and Stripes —a daily military newspaper — to get scores and articles.
“If I was lucky, UK would be mentioned, but not much. My family provided me with details as best they could during those times,” he said. “Once I was stationed back to the U.S., the availability of UK games increased and I was able to keep up with them on a daily basis.”
He met his wife, Angela, who is from Maryland, in Edzell, Scotland, in 1983 during her deployment there. They have now both retired honorably after 20 years in the Navy.
He had to convert her to becoming a UK fan.
“Initially she wasn't into basketball like I was, but over time the UK effect started to have an impact on her. Hearing me talk about UK all the time, and sharing why UK is so great, began to have a positive influence on her which has grown just as strong as mine is today,” he said.
They have UK gear ranging from pajamas to T-shirts to sweat pants to much, much more.
“We were UK gear every single day — and I do mean every single day,” Bibbs said. “She is a part of the BBN till the day she leaves this earth.”
Their plan, naturally, was to retire in Kentucky after leaving the military but there were no jobs in Kentucky that would have allowed them to continue working in the Cryptology/Intelligence field.
“I do miss being in Kentucky though,” Bibb said. “We watch every single UK game on TV.”
They also depend on other media outlets for UK updates. He reads vaughtsviews.com — which is where he caught my eye with his insightful comments. He follows Kentucky Sports Radio, A Sea of Blue, Nation of Blue, Bleach Report, CoachCal.com and ESPN for daily UK coverage.
“We also follow recruiting closely, and keep tabs on who may become a potential Wildcat,” Bibb said.
He’s yet to to meet any other UK fans living in Maryland but he sometimes sees UK fans when he’s out.
“I always wear UK sweat pants and a UK hoodie, and thats when I'll met some of the people in passing. I never pass up a chance to talk about UK and tell them how much I bleed blue,” he said.
When he drives from Maryland to Kentucky to visit family, he always passes Rupp Arena and tells himself one day he will be able to attend a Kentucky game there. However, he has not been able to secure lower level seats that he and his wife want to see a game.
“Until then we'll keep trying. I guess our theory on the lower level seats is that since the distance is great between Maryland and Kentucky, we want to get the best bang for the trip so to speak. If that makes any sense,” Bibbs said.
It makes perfect sense. For this couple who gave 20 years each in service to our country and have bonded over UK sports, they want that first UK game to be a memorable experience. Here’s hoping he finds a way to get lower level seats for him and his wife next year.
But guess what? If that never happens, he’ll still keep supporting his Cats just like he has from years whether it was from Scotland, Italy or now in Maryland. He might not see his Cats in person, but he has “Go Big Blue” on his heart daily and insists that won’t ever change.
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