NICHOLASVILLE — Leslie Phillips is as optimistic as her husband, University of Kentucky football coach Joker Phillips, when it comes to talking about the Wildcats and has been during his entire UK¿coaching career.
She was at Keene Run Golf Club Monday helping with the Swings for Our Soldiers golf scramble organized by Allison and Jacob Tamme, even though her husband had other obligations and could not attend the event that raised money for Homes for Our Troops.
Leslie Phillips, a professor at Georgetown College, was one of the organizers of UK’s pregame Cat Walk and continues to be involved in the football program in various ways:
Question: Are you still enjoying life as the wife of a head coach going into Joker’s second season as head coach?
Phillips: “I¿am. It has been about like what I¿thought it be. It has been really time consuming. That is one thing different, but I expected that. It has been even a bit more of a challenge to keep it all in perspective. On the one hand, you want to win so bad for so many reasons. Then on the other hand, you think it is just a game. You have to balance that.”
Question: How do you handle all the media attention — both good and bad — that goes with your husband’s job?
Phillips: “You don’t ignore it. You take it in because you hear it, but you understand that everybody has their opinion. You have to understand it will always be that way. Whatever happens will happen, so try not to worry about it. Joker is pretty much the same way.”
Question: Is it different being the head coach’s wife around parents versus being the wife of an assistant coach or coordinator?
Phillips: “That has not been much different. We spend a lot of time interacting with parents and players. When Joker was offensive coordinator, we began a tradition of having the freshman once they arrived on campus in the summer having them over to our house. We did that a few weeks ago. It is pretty much the same from that respect.”
Question: Do you meet a lot of recruits and their families on campus?
Phillips: “All of us wives are very involved in recruiting on campus. Some are a little more available if they don’t have younger children at home, but all the wives are heavily involved in recruiting, especially the months of December and January where it is every weekend. Friday night, Saturday night and then we even host a Sunday morning brunch at our house. It is an all weekend kind of thing and we are all involved in it.”
Question: Does your husband ever say no to a speaking request?
Phillips: “He tells me, and I¿do believe him, that he does say no a lot but he still does more than he probably should. He he has to say no more, but it is tough. There are a lot of people tugging at him and he tries to do a lot. He’s not very good at saying no, but he says he does a lot. He has a lot of energy, though, so that is good.”
Question: Is he as optimistic going into this season as he says he is?
Phillips: “He is. That’s his nature. He is always optimistic. He is realistic, too, but why focus on the negative. If you have a choice to see the cup half empty or half full, he’s going to focus on it being half full always.”
Question: How much do you just interacting with players’ parents about non-football matters?
Phillips: “I love that. That’s what it is all about. Getting to know these players and their families. I¿have a life-long friend here in Susan Tamme and the rest of the Tamme family (from when Jacob Tamme played at Kentucky). That has happened over and over again with these players and their families. We get periodic cards from Myron Pryor’s grandmother who was just a wonderful human being. Got to know her. I could go on and on with these players’ families and getting to know them. It is so cool because they are from all different places and all walks of life. It’s really cool to get to know them.”
Question: Will game day be any easier on you this year?
Phillips: “Game day is intense. No, it won’t be any easier. It is what it is. It is fun, exciting and tense. You always go in hoping to get the victory. That’s what it is about. I¿love the game and it is exciting any way and when it is your home school and your husband happens to be coaching, it is so exciting and so intense all at the same time.”