Kentucky Wildcats Honor Jenny Hansen and Tony Delk



THE MODERATOR: Good evening, everyone. We’re very excited for you all to be here. This is a great day in the history of University of Kentucky athletics with both of this years real estate Jenny Hanson and Tony Delk. We’ll have Jenny come up first to do her part of the news conference. Her career highlights: eight-time NCAA champion in gymnastics, Southeastern Conference Female Athlete of the Year. She won the Honda Cup as the National Female Amateur Athlete of the Year, Kentucky Sportsman of the Year. Looking at her career after UK, she’s been in the entertainment industry, she’s been a stunt double on television in movies. She’s been a trainer for the biggest loser television show. Currently doing a live show at Disneyland doing stunt work for that, and is also coaching youth gymnastics.

Just your thoughts about having your jersey retired.

JENNY HANSEN: Well, it’s just been an extreme honor just to come back to Kentucky and have my teammates there and have past gymnasts there, and just be recognized at what I had done with the University of Kentucky at the University of Kentucky. It’s just a lot of fun to be just back on campus and in Lexington. It’s an amazing honor.

How much, if any, had you been back in Lexington and back on campus since your career here?

JENNY HANSEN: I think I’ve been back a couple times. I believe it was last year. (UK gymnastics) Coach Tim Garrison invited me over and I got an opportunity to talk to the girls before one of their competitions. And that was extremely fun. I got pretty emotional, actually, because it was being back in Nutter where I used to practice, and how much time and dedication and all that stuff in that facility. It brought back a lot of memories and a lot of great memories.

How did your training here end up leading you to being a stunt woman?

JENNY HANSEN: Well, I think it started actually when I was a kid. My sisters and I grew up on a farm in Wisconsin, so I actually ended up ‑‑ I had horses, we had cattle, we had a trampoline in the backyard, so it was a lot of that stuff. And then once I came here to Kentucky and then doing a lot of the press conference stuff, and just being able to be confident in front of people. I’ve been a character (laughs). I think just being in front of the huge crowds in the SEC, it helps a lot just because when you’re on set, all of a sudden they say, okay, you ready, and you’ve got to say yeah. So sometimes it’s a one-and-done, and sometimes you’ve just got to constantly repeat it over and over again. So yeah, it’s helped out quite a bit. That was a very good question. I like that one.

Sum up, how did you transition from being gymnast to being in the entertainment business and doing that stuff?

JENNY HANSEN: Well, I think I’ve always had an entertaining personality. I think one of the things is, even when I was here after I graduated from UK, I ended up working at Ruden Riddle, equine hospital here. Those guys will tell you, it was hard for me to stay contained in four walls. I was flipping on the mats and I was doing a couple different things.

How did you end up in the entertainment business from being a college gymnast?

JENNY HANSEN: I think I’ve always kind of had that personality. But in the entertainment business, you know, it’s all about show and it’s all about how you can present yourself and how basically what gymnastics has kind of taught me through my years, and growing up in that sport. So it was an easy transition. It’s hard to get ‑‑ sometimes it’s difficult to get jobs, just because you have to go out there and you kind of have to sell yourself. So you’re kind of your own agent, in a sense. But once you’re on set, it’s similar to any kind of competition. It’s an on thing. Once you get on there, all of a sudden, when the cameras are all rolling and they go, action, boom, you’ve got to be on. And if you’re not on and you don’t hit your mark, then you don’t get a 10.

Any chance you have any flips or stunts or anything planned maybe for tonight?

JENNY HANSEN: I don’t know (laughs). I always conjure up something, so there might be something going on tonight.

What was last night like for you?

JENNY HANSEN: It was a whirlwind. Last night was great seeing lots of people that I haven’t seen in a fairly long time. So it was just fun catching up with them. And then also, just watching the girls compete, when I was able to, while I was in between talking to everybody. But it was just ‑‑ it was pretty exciting just to watch the girls and see the progression of actually how the coliseum has evolved and the speaker system and the flooring and the setup. It was good to see the people that usually have set up when I was competing still there and they are still dedicated to their job and what they do. Yeah, it was just a lot of fun just to be back in that environment and watching the girls and remembering what it felt like to be out on that floor.

THE MODERATOR: Jenny, thank you so much. Tony Delk, was an All‑American, Southeastern Conference Player of the Year. University of Kentucky, career three‑point leader, fifth all‑time on the all‑time scoring list; Most Outstanding Player of the 1996 Midwest regional. Of course that sparked the Wildcats to the Final Four where the Wildcats won the 1996 National Championship and Tony was the most outstanding player of the Final Four, as well. From there, went on to the NBA, played 10 seasons in the NBA and is now doing television work and we are pleased to have him as our retired jersey honoree tonight. At this point we’ll bring up Tony Delk.

Give us your thoughts on having your jersey retired?

TONY DELK: It’s a great honor, just to be amongst the great players here who have laced up, who have worn the Blue. I’ve played with a lot of great guys, and it was fun just being here because I was just thinking about myself as I was walking in, starting in the backyard of Brownsville, Tenn., to the hardwood of Rupp Arena, who would have thought that? Just to be here, it all started with Brownsville, my brothers, my mom, dad, sisters, everybody helped me with this process. So it’s been great.

Curious as you look back, are you more proud of being still the fifth all‑time leading scorer here, or being second in career steals?

TONY DELK: You know what, I thought about second in career steals. I played with the guy who was No. 1 and we spoke three days ago, Wayne Turner. So it was probably the steals because I never thought about that I would be second on the all‑time steals list and was first before Wayne passed me. Making a lot of 3’s, I played with so many great guys. Got a call from Antoine Walker today, Walter McCarty, Scott Padgett, Anthony Epps, Jeff Shepherd, the list goes on and on of how we came together and had great chemistry. It was just a lot of fun just playing with all those guys.

The 00 going up in the rafters tonight, how did you choose that number?

TONY DELK: How did I come to double zeros, that’s an interesting question. Because I started my sophomore year, my numbers were 20 and 21. I don’t know, I just decided, I came down to Atlanta, I live in Atlanta now, but I played some summer ball with my brother and I felt like my game had gotten a lot better. So when I got back home, went to my high school coach, I told them I wanted to wear 00. He said, that’s strange, how do you go from 20, 21 to 00. But again my brother wore it, and I thought I did a tremendous job just representing his number. I was hoping he would be here but he had some other things to take care of. That number meant a lot to me in high school, as well as here at the University of Kentucky, and to get a chance to wear it on several times in the NBA ‑‑ I played on a lot of teams in the NBA, so I have a lot of 00s.

There’s a lot of talk about this year’s team, whether they need to take a loss ‑‑ and you had a loss into the SEC tournament. Did that help you guys, and do you think a team needs that at all?

TONY DELK: We weren’t trying to lose. We had won 27 games in a row, of course not. I want to see this team go 40‑0 ‑‑ you don’t want to lose a game now. The way they have been playing, they have had close games and now it’s about finishing off what they started and having the experience come back from last season has really helped this year’s group of guys. So you want to see a team like this finish what they started. They are good, they play together, they enjoy the game, they have fun and they are well coached.

So who wins, 1996 Kentucky or 2015 Kentucky?

TONY DELK: It’s different styles. I thought our style was a lot different. They are really great at half court. We were great in the full court. We pressed, we turned you over, we scored in the 90s and sometimes in the 100s. So we had a different style than what they are playing right now. They are long and athletic. I thought we were being quicker. We had much better shooters. I will say that.

If I remember right, thinking back to early in your freshman year, you were ready to pack up. Talk about your thoughts, thinking back to that day, how glad you are you didn’t leave?

TONY DELK: Well, I can remember picking up the phone and calling my brothers, when Coach Pitino started the recruiting process, he came down to Brownsville, Tennessee and built a relationship with my brothers, as well as Billy Donovan was the reason why I chose the University of Kentucky. And just not playing early, watching my peers play, it was frustrating. I thought I should have been playing, and you know, it was a lot of hard work that went into it. So by the time I spoke with Coach Pitino, I said, I’m just not happy here. He made a promise to me that he would not recruit anybody else at my position and the rest is history. So glad I stayed now. I got a text from him yesterday just congratulating me and I have to thank him for just the hard work and believing in me. Billy Donovan is one of those guys, when I wasn’t playing, getting into the gym, working on my game night and day ‑‑ before he left and took the job at University of Marshall, he left me in good hands.

On the 1995-96 shooting foul:

TONY DELK: That was a phantom foul. That was my acting career starting early. I fooled the ref just like these players now, they will fall down and scream and the refs go for it. Just one of those plays. But just to be in front of our bench and get to that point from losing ’95 to North Carolina, who I thought was probably our best team. I loved our ’96 team. That ’95 was a special team. You know, just playing with Walter McCarty, Antoine Walker, Derek Anderson, Ron Mercer; there was so many great players. And we all came together kind of like what this team is doing. We wanted to do something special and to be a part of history.

How was the satisfaction playing at Kentucky versus your years in the NBA where it’s more of a business? And didn’t you once have like 50‑some points in the NBA?

TONY DELK: I did. I had a 53‑point game, played with an unbelievable point guard, Jason Kidd. Remind me of Anthony Epps. He took care of all the players, made sure everybody got their shots. Just playing here, it was guys who we didn’t have anything, you know, our common goal was to play, enjoy the game, have fun and try to be a part of history. Then like I said, the NBA became a business. Guys were friends but we wasn’t friends off the court. Here, the dorms, going to movies, bowling alleys, it was just camaraderie. We built a great chemistry here. Today, the guys I named, still good friends: Derek Anderson, talk to him, Antoine Walker, Anthony Epps, we still remain friends. This is our family.