After Kentucky beat Central Michigan on Saturday, I wondered what significance playing one day for the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 might have to UK¿players and coaches. It was such a traumatic and historic day,
I was just curious to see what different players and coaches might remember.
So today’s column is a chance for you to see how Kentucky players and coaches remember that day that changed our world forever.
Joker Phillips, head coach: “I was at Notre Dame. We were getting prepared to play Purdue. We got a call under the stadium in place with no windows and could not tell if it was night or day. One of the wives called a guy on staff and told him a plane has accidentally ran into the towers. We saw the second one (hit) and realized it wasn’t (an accident).
“At Notre Dame we were on national TV every week. There was a lot of fear something could possibly happen at one of the games. It was a venue if you wanted something to happen nationally, that would be the place. There was lot of fear on campus.
“Your heart went out once you saw the plane crash thinking about those families and thinking about our players to see if any of those guys had any family members at the scene or friends at the towers. It was a tough deal for everyone in the United States.”
Donte Rumph, sophomore defensive tackle: “I was in class and our teacher did not let us know what was happening. You saw everybody scrambling around in the hall. The principal called a staff meeting and then the rumor leaked out. We could see the Twin Towers falling down. It was horrible and really hit me hard.”
Chuck Smith, linebackers coach: “I was in a driver’s ed car (at Boyle County High School) riding around and we had the radio on. Me and the students in the car and it came on this airplane hit (the tower) and then boom, another one hit. We just kind of looked at each other. We went back to the school. It put cold chills on you. I will never forget that.”
Stuart Hines, senior guard: “I remember I was in school in the seventh grade and they brought us all back to our homeroom classes and told everybody what was going on. We got to watch the (TV) footage and stuff. Back then I didn’t really realize the impact it was going to have on the country. It gives you chills to think about everything that has gone on since then and how far we have come as a country. It is definitely special to play on the anniversary of that. You are able to honor the people who died and the people who served.”
Raymond Sanders, sophomore running back: “I remember where I was. I was in fourth grade and my teacher had a family member involved and it was a tough day for her. That’s mostly what I remember. We turned the TV on and watched it. Everyone got to go home and be with their family and console each other. I was pretty young then, but I was understanding and knowing the pain and hurt it was causing our country.
“It does mean a lot to play in a game where we honor our country. As you get older, you understand what we mean to each other. We are united. We are one. You feel like those citizens who lost their family members in such a tragedy on this day ... we can pick those guys up and help them. It shows great respect to those people and everyone else who is doing something for this country.”
Steve Pardue, running backs coach: “I was at LaGrange (Ga.) High School and I had just walked up to the main office where they have a television. I asked what they were doing and they told me a plane had flown into one of the towers in New York. I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ It wasn’t a minute later the second one hit. That is when everybody knew there was more to this. They actually called off all the games in Georgia that week.
“For me personally, growing up in Hopkinsville and being by Fort Campbell and going to school at Austin Peay right by Fort Campbell, it probably meant a little more to me too when our military started getting so involved in it. It was one of those things nobody every understands why it happens, but I think our country is a lot stronger because of it. You hate that it happened, but I think we did come back and people are proud of this country and we don’t take our freedom for granted like we used to a little bit.”