UK athletes honored at CATSPYs

Mr. and mrs. wildcat, Chelsea Oswald and Luis Orta, during the 2012/2013 University of Kentucy Catspy Awards at Memorial Coliseum on April 22, 2013. Photo by Adam Chaffins | Staff

By Lindsay Travis | @KyKernelSports

This year’s annual CATSPY event had everything from “Harlem Shake” videos to Coach Joe B. Hall talking about spilling Gatorade. Numerous awards were given out to current student athletes, coaches and trainers.

The CATSPY’s is an event much like ESPN’s ESPYS award show, only much bluer. Memorial Coliseum was transformed Monday night as UK hosted the 11th annual CATSPY awards. The entire space was aglow with blue and white lights.

A sand artist kicked off the event, creating logos of all the different sports, a national championship trophy and finally the UK logo.

Women’s basketball coach Matthew Mitchell opened the event and spoke about UK’s next transformation.

“I think toughness is going to be the cornerstone of our next transformation,” Mitchell said.

Luis Orta, a senior on the track and field team, won two highly honored awards at the CATSPY’s: The character award and Mr. Wildcat.

Orta said that when he came to UK he was “scared, cold, and knew no English.” However, with the help of his fellow teammates and Miss Wildcat Chelsea Oswald, he was able to have a successful career while at UK.

The night was also successful for Greg Ferrucci of the diving team and Cally Macumber of the cross-country team. The pair won the male and female performance of the year awards as well as the K-Association male and female athlete of the year awards.

The gymnastics team had an award-winning night to match their record-breaking season. Head coach Tim Garrison was one of three coaches of the year.

Shannon Mitchell won the Scratch award, an award given to a non-scholarship athlete whose effort shows they play purely for the love of the game. The entire gymnastics team was also one of the two teams of the year.

Garrison had a message for all of the athletes in the room.

“Improve yourself. Improve those around you. Set a high expectation level for yourself,” Garrison said. “You chose to go to a Division I university. You chose to come to the SEC, the toughest conference in the nation. You chose not to be average. You chose to be exceptional.”

Joe B. Hall, John Cropp and Jim Madaleno presented the Lifetime Achievement award to trainer Walt McCombs.

McCombs and Hall worked closely with each other during Hall’s tenure as head men’s basketball coach.

“I’m proud to be here tonight,” Hall said. “Walt was a friend of everyone. He was a man who did his job to perfection. This guy is the ultimate warrior.”

Director of sports medicine Jim Madaleno helped personify McComb’s character to the crowd by adding, “The university defines loyalty by Walt McCombs.”

The evening was full of funny videos created by the different teams and motivational speeches. The athletes who were awarded were thankful and some were surprised with the recognition.