By LARRY VAUGHT
Jackie Watson was born in Chicago, moved to Oklahoma and then California before finally moving to Kentucky when she was 16 years old. It didn’t take long for her to become true blue.
“I am not going anywhere. They will have to pick me up and move me because I am never going anywhere,” Watson, who lives in Georgetown now and works in Versailles, said.
Go back to 2010 when she was getting married. Her future husband, Brian, was trying to figure out the right gift for his five groomsmen. She suggested basketballs autographed by the Kentucky basketball players but he doubted if that could be worked out.
“I told him to go buy the basketballs. From when I was in school, I know the times they tended to practice, so I told him we would go to Wildcat Lodge and wait (for the players). We waited in the parking lot across from Memorial Coliseum and DeMarcus Cousins was walking across (the parking lot),” Watson said. “My husband told him he knew it would sound weird but that he was trying to get the team to sign a basketball for my groomsmen because he was getting married.”
Cousins promised he would have all the players come out after practice. Not much later the players do come and sign the basketballs.
“All five of our groomsmen got the UK2K balls signed by all the 2009-10 players,” Watson laughed and said. “We stalked them all and got it done.”
Watson came to Kentucky in 1998 for spring break and her dad told her Kentucky was going to win the national championship — and the Wildcats did. She soon was living in Kentucky and decided to attend UK where she graduated in 2006.
She was in Rupp Arena when Tayshaun Prince hit five straight 3-pointers in a game against North Carolina.
“I was in the upper level of the student section when he dropped those 3’s on North Carolina,” Watson said. “I was also in the eRUPPtion Zone the first game it opened my sophomore year. I also hate Dwayne Wade with a passion (for helping Marquette beat UK in the 2003 NCAA Tournament).”
She became a UK football fan because she met players like quarterback Jared Lorenzen at UK but it was linebacker Dustin Williams who got her hooked on UK football.
“I met him in English class and turned out we were from the same area of Illinois and he told me I had to come to a football game. I was not sure about it but I went,” she said.
She later got to know Arliss Beach and Keenan Burton because they were in the ag college with her.
“I was at UK pre-Randall Cobb but UK was decently good. I went to the Music City Bowl in 2006 when we beat Clemson and that was fun,” she said.
That was tame compared to the time in 2005 when Kentucky beat LSU in overtime in the SEC Tournament semifinals. Watson and three female friends decided to drive to Atlanta for the championship game against Florida.
“We had diet Mt. Dew and beef jerky, so we were good,” Watson said. “That year at the Georgia Dome they put the student section behind the goal and if you were one of the first 30 people in line you got those seats. We got to Atlanta at like 2 a.m. and got in line since we didn’t want to pay for a hotel room. It was a blast even though we lost that (championship) game to Florida. Bobby Perry is still my hero. I knew a lot of those guys.”
Watson has raised her two children to be Big Blue fans. Her 6-year-old daughter Jillian is a “huge” Maci Morris fan and loves going to watch her play.
“She has worn her hair in two French braid pigtails ever since she saw Maci,” Watson said. “She wants to be Maci Morris. She has watched games since she was 2 or 3. She loves volleyball and goes to UK volleyball games. She just went to Excite Night (for the gymnastics team). I am trying to get her to like all sports, not just football and basketball.”
Her 2-year-old son, Jack, knows plenty about basketball, too. She’s taught him about the “Yucky Birds” at Louisville and that Duke “stinks” when it plays basketball.
“It’s about parenting for the win,” Watson said.
Her husband, Brian, is a bit different from her.
“He thinks I am crazy, and maybe I am when it comes to UK,” Jackie Watson said. “He is more mellow. The games do not affect him like they do me. When UK loses, he knows to leave me alone. If you like me as a person, let’s not ruin it by watching a basketball game together. I will watch the game, then watch it again unless we lose and then it immediately gets deleted (from her DVR).
“That Wisconsin game (where 38-0 UK lost in the 2015 Final Four) still hurts me. I think that was worse than the (Christian) Laettner shot (for Duke in 1992). We had a chance to be an undefeated national champion. That may never happen again.”
She has one more reason she believes makes her “the best” Kentucky fan.
“I consider myself the best UK fan of all time for one simple reason: I have never had allegiance to Rick Pitino,” Watson said. “I came in with that ’98 team with Tubby (Smith). My mom tries to go, ‘You have to respect Rick Pitino for what he did with Kentucky.’ No I don’t. I didn’t follow Kentucky then. I was in California, so I have no ties and allegiance to Rick Pitino and never will.”