UK fans ecstatic with opportunity meet Travis

April 13, 2019 | 9:21 pm

Updated April 22, 2019 | 1:30 pm

Hunter Yeckering, right, and his dad arrived at noon to be first in line for Reid Travis, center, at a signing event in April 2019. | File photo by Ryan Richardson

More than 300 people stood in line ready for their chance to meet University of Kentucky basketball player Reid Travis, but no one waited longer than Hunter Yeckering.

Yeckering, who turned 15 years old a few days ago, arrived at Legends Sports Bar & Grill around noon, hoping he’d finally be near the front of the pack.

To his surprise, he and his dad were the first ones in line, and Yeckering couldn’t have been more pleased.

“I wanted to be first,” he said. “I was always jealous of the people that got to be first. I had to do this.”

Travis came in through the back doors of Legends shortly before his scheduled time of 6:30 p.m. to begin signing autographs, and as he made his way up front he was greeted by nothing but cheers and high-fives.

After taking some time to travel across the country once the season ended, Owensboro was the first stop on Travis’s tour before he begins the process of finding an agent and beginning workouts to prepare for the NBA draft.

His press team told him Owensboro would be a great place to start his tour, and Travis was eager to meet new faces.

“I want to go places where I haven’t been in contact with a lot of the fans who are so far away from Lexington,” he said. “There are a lot of people who bleed blue. I wanted to make sure I could touch as many people as I could.”

First up was Yeckering, who was shaking with a mix of nerves and excitement as he stepped behind the table for a moment with Travis.

“I’m excited to see him,” he said. “I wish he would have transferred earlier. I love that dude.”

Ashley Gann and her mom drove more than 4 hours to get the chance to meet Reid Travis. | Photo by Ryan Richardson

Next in line was Ashley Gann, who traveled 4½ hours from Alabama with her mom to meet her favorite player. Though she doesn’t live in Kentucky, UK is still Gann’s favorite team.

“My mom used to live up here, but she moved down to Alabama and met my dad,” she said. I’ve been a fan my whole life.”

Gann was speechless at the opportunity to have a true face-to-face with a Wildcat.

“It’s very exciting,” she said. “I’ve only ever met Devin Booker at a game. I can’t breathe.”

Kimberly Warfield didn’t let prom night stop her from making the trip to see Reid Travis. | Photo by Ryan Richardson

Another fan, Kimberly Warfield, didn’t have to travel nearly as far, but she did have to alter her plans for the day to make the short trip. Warfield was perhaps the best-dressed person at the event, as she made the stop on the way to Hancock County High School’s prom night.

“My dinner reservation was at 6, and this was at 6:30, so I had to text my boyfriend’s mom to push it,” she said. “We went at 4 instead. I haven’t missed a single signing since they’ve been (coming to Owensboro).”

Warfield emphatically said no when asked if there was ever a doubt that she’d miss meeting Travis because of prom.

“I told my boyfriend I was coming with or without him,” she said. “So he’s out in the car.”

Travis was all smiles from the moment he walked through the doors, to his time waiting at the table, to greeting each person as they slowly rolled in.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “It’s definitely humbling. It’s a blessing that this many people want to come out and kind of celebrate the season and come out and meet me.”

Though he only spent a season with UK, Travis said it was easy to see how much the fans care. He said Big Blue Nation feels like one big family, and they’ve given him nothing but support and positive interactions.

“People show up at noon and take their whole day to do that,” he said. “It’s a humbling experience for me. I remember when I was a little kid, I looked up to players. It puts me in the reverse side of the role, and it makes me feel very humbled and blessed. A lot of responsibility comes with this role. I take it with a lot of honor. I know these fans love us, so I try to do the best I can at everything I can to make them proud.”

April 13, 2019 | 9:21 pm

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