UK Superfan attends every home game for the last 30 years
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - While thousands of fans fill Kroger Field every home game, one man is always there to show the Wildcats his support.
“If you’re going to commit to your team, commit fully,” said Thomas Manuel, who graduated from UK in 1991.
Manuel has not missed a UK home football game in 30 seasons. It was a streak he and his dad started when they decided to attend the 1994 matchup between the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville.
The Wildcats won 20-14, allowing them to raise the Governor’s Cup.
“I enjoyed it so much with my dad,” said Manuel. “I said, ‘I think I’m going to go for the rest of this year’.”
One year turned into many. Often, he was accompanied by his father.
“This would not have been as enjoyable if he wasn’t sitting right by my side for the majority of the games,” Manuel said.
According to Manuel, UK games are different from other football games because of the environment that is cultivated at Kroger Field.
“Being with the crowd, who also love the players as well, the atmosphere, the energy, the electricity in the stand, especially when we’re winning, it’s just like no other feeling,” he said.
However, at times, there was doubt the streak would continue.
“I really thought it was going to come to an end then, but as my mother said, ‘he’s too determined to miss’,” Manuel said.
Manuel went through cancer treatments two times, but he was determined to continue showing up for his beloved Wildcats.
“My doctors begged me not to go to the game, but I said, ‘I’m sorry I’m going’,” he said. “They gave me these large, orange, duck-bill mask that I had to wear. I had to completely cover up my skin because I couldn’t be in direct sunlight because of the medicine.”
Through the years, there have been a lot of changes; different players, different coaches and different fans.
“Even though everything changes, I know that I’m going to be there in that seat god willing,” Manuel said.
But Manuel said one thing always stays the same.
“I feel the university of Kentucky, for me, is my home,” Manuel said.
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