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Friday, June 8, 2012

Friday Cardinal Couple -- Reader Submitted Article Day


*******BREAKING NEWS*******

I'll Have Another has been scratched from the Belmont Stakes. 

Press conference scheduled for 1 p.m.

Doug O'Neill pulls the Belmont odds-on favorite because of tendinitis in left front leg. We'll have more on this tomorrow, along with our revised Belmont picks. 

Tough break. A horse takes millions of steps in a recing career. One bad one over.

-Joe Hill: My love affair with Angel McCoughtry

-An early look at the Belmont

WE will be running reader submitted articles on Friday's for the next couple of months. We had several good ones submitted for today's column that we will probably use down the road; today we bring you Joe Hill's piece on Angel McCoughtry.

Joe resides in Port Charlotte, FL. and is a retired bar/restaurant owner. He has followed Cardinal Sports since his days at UofL during the late sixties. He got interested in UofL women's basketball when Bud Childers coached the program in the 1990's...having met Bud on an airplane and having a long discussion with him on women's basketball and sports in general. 

Some people swear he looks like Jimmy Buffett. WE definitely agree but will also attest to the fact that he can't sing like the legend. 

Here's Joe!

Hello Cardinal Couple!

My name is Joe Hill and I am a UofL women's basketball fan. I am writing today for this fine web-site CARDINAL COUPLE about my favorite women's basketball player of all time. Ms. Angel McCoughtry. Although I have never formally met her, I can tell you that I am in love with her. 
Sometimes, certain athletes just have that effect on you. I hope she reads this article. Angel, I do love you!

A bit of background on me might be in order first. I owned a restaurant and pub in scenic Gatlinburg, TN for many years.  I had a lot of Tennessee and Louisville pictures and memorabilia on the walls of my establishment and UofL fans in the area would gather at my place to watch UofL televised sporting events. I received a very nice offer from some investors a couple of years ago to purchase my business and I sold it, moved to Florida and eventually married the realtor who sold me my condo. How about that? 

I've got to see Angel McCoughtry play live and in person several times. The first was in Murfreesboro, TN at the MTSU Classic back in 2005. It was only her second game as a Louisville Cardinal, she didn't start but played well when she was in the game and the Cards beat EKU pretty badly that night. The next time I saw her play was in Nashville later that year. Louisville was in the NCAA Tournament and was playing Vanderbilt in the first round on the Commodores home court. They lost that night, Angel played well again and that was the first time that CARDINAL COUPLE owners Paul and Sonja watched a game with me. 

They had been regular visitors to my place when they would travel to Gatlinburg and we had stayed in touch. Paul was one of the few that could beat me in darts and I respected that.

I remember that game for another reason also. Paul had talked with sportswriter Howie Lindsey at halftime and came back and told us that Howie wasn't feeling very good. Before the contest ended, Howie was admitted to a Vanderbilt hospital for an emergency appendectomy. 

Paul had extended an open invite to come to Louisville anytime and watch the UofL WBB team play. His treat. I took him up on that a couple of days before New Year's Eve back in 2006. The Cards beat Eastern Illinois that game and Angel was in control of the Cardinal team by then. We had a great time and Paul took me and one of my bartenders to a couple of Louisville nightspots after the game. We crashed on his living room floor and drove back to Gatlinburg the next morning. 

The 2007-2008 season was a great one for Louisville women's basketball. I got to see the Cards play in Chattanooga that year and they handled the Lady Mocs pretty easily. Angel was definitely on her game that night and so was Candyce Bingham. I didn't get up to Louisville that year to watch any games but we were cheering pretty heavily for the Cards. We were hosting the very casual and unofficial Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge Cardinal Fans Club and saw plenty of great Cardinal events that year on TV. 

Angel's final year was a pretty special one for her and her teammates. They went to the Final Four and were the National Runners Up. It was special for me , too, because I got the chance to see Angel and Louisville play seven times live!

They began the season at Tennessee Tech and I was there with several Fan Club members. They romped that night! Then, the Cards visited MTSU for a game and I was there again. That was the game that Sonja drove down to see with a couple of her friends and Cardinal fans. We sat with her and had a great time watching Louisville beat the Blue Raiders! Ten days later, I was headed to Louisville to watch the Cards face Kentucky in Freedom Hall.  Another great time, another UofL win and another great post-game experience with Paul and Sonja. The five of us who made the trip did it right that time, getting a couple of rooms at the Brown Hotel and visiting the legendary Old Spaghetti Factory the next day before returning home that night. 

As Louisville continued to roll in the post-season we were excited about them maybe getting the chance to play in the Raleigh Regional. We got tickets for the games. We were confident the Cards would get there and they did by beating Liberty and LSU. We took off for Raleigh, had a couple of rooms booked at the Red Roof Inn and went crazy when the Cards downed Baylor and Maryland in pretty easy fashion. 

I got to high-five Angel after the Maryland game when they came over to applaud the fans who were applauding for them. 

It was the FINAL FOUR for the Cards and I was going to be there, no matter what it took. Three of us drove to Knoxville the day before,  flew to St. Louis and ended up with pretty nice seats and Red Roof Inn lodging again. 

The Oklahoma game was a nail-biter but the Cards won it to advance and play UConn. Even though they lost to UConn, it was a heck of an experience and a great time. 

A few months after that, my mother passed away in Florida.  I met with my brothers and sisters down there and discovered I really liked the area, the climate and really wanted to spend more time there. By 2010, I was an ex-owner and looking at Condos up and down the Gulf Coast of Florida.

I have been to one UofL women's basketball game since then. The Cards rolled into Tampa in February 2011 and I was there. No Angel, but a nice UofL win and I fell in love with a whole new group of Cards as I watched them beat the Bulls. We have gone to several Lady Bulls games since I have been down here and, although they're fun to watch and I really like their style of play, I'll always be a Cardinal fan first and foremost. 

Shoni Schimmel, Monique Reid, Tia Gibbs. I could go on and on. I really look forward to this upcoming season and with the "dish" and internet, I look forward to seeing a lot of games. The Cards are also coming back to Tampa to play the Bulls and I'll be there with my lovely bride, dressed in red and cheering on my team. 

I appreciate the chance to tell my story about being an Angel and UofL fan, Paul and Sonja and thanks to those of you who read my article. GO CARDS and L1C4! I hope to get back up to Louisville this season for a game and I'm also planning to go see the Atlanta Dream play a home game. Even though I'm now happily married and the father of a beautiful, eight-month old daughter, I still love you, Angel! 

(Nice job, Joe! If you would like to submit an idea for an article or send an article for Friday consideration, please send it to 


We'll get a little more involved in the Belmont Stakes tomorrow...but we're seeing that Atigun is entered as one of  Ken McPeek's runners. The three year old was quite impressive in winning the first race of the day at Churchill on Derby Day and we're going to use him in the Belmont Stakes race. Especially if it rains. 

Unstoppable U is Ken's other horse, a speed burner who will try to set the early pace. It's a big step up for him but Ken is very confident of both their chances. 

More on that Saturday, when Paulie climbs into the cab and takes the wheel. Thanks again to Joe and have a great Friday, readers! 


  1. Great story, Joe! I was also at the Final Four in St. Louis. Decided at the last minute to go, and had to buy tickets through ticket master. I was in the very top row, but I sure screamed loud enough in that game vs. Oklahoma for the folks on the court to hear me. Traded in tickets for the final game and ended up with much better seats after Stanford and OK fans left. I am on the cusp of booking a week in the Big Easy for next years Final Four, I am going to be ready this time around when our girls make it!!

    1. Thanks Jenny! Love your writings!
      Joe Hill

  2. Loved the article, Joe. I too am a big Angel fan. I also met you a few years ago in Gatlinburg at your pub. Was there with my brother and we were talking with you about how horrible Kragthorpe was. Whatever happened to that cute blonde bartender? :)

    Curtis Franklin

    1. I remember her, Curtis. Natalie. Think she was engaged to a hotel manager last I heard.

    2. Thanks, Curtis. I do remember you and your brother. Thought you guys were a couple of NFL players when you walked in. Ha, ha!
      Joe Hill

    3. Nat married that guy, Paulie and they moved to Atlanta. Best bartender I ever had.
      Joe Hill

  3. Enjoyed your article today, Joe. Hope you continue to write for Cardinal Couple. Huge Angel fan here!

    --Blue Lou

  4. That team Angels final year was remarkable. Only Mo remains. Nebody know what ever happened to Dez Bird?


    1. WE hear that Dez is working, doing well and happy. She sure gave us a lot of happy moments, didn't she? "I'd follow that girl into battle and not be one stitch afraid..."


  5. Some believe that value and future stud fees will be > for a horse that won the first two legs and sat out the third than that of a horse who won the first 2 and lost the 3rd. Same for value of his SIR and offspring.

    tendonitis -- it comes,it goes.

    1. After the horse racing tragedies and disappointments of BIG BROWN, EIGHT BELLES and BARBARO, the move was a wise one not to risk another possible heartbreak. It has been announced that I'll Have Another will lead the post parade for the Belmont Stakes.



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