Wildcat Strong Program Underway for Ongoing Student COVID-19 Testing

Student in a car getting ready to be tested for Covid-19 by an employee of Wild Health, UK's partner in Covid testing, in the Kroger Field drive-thru testing location.
Student in a car in line to be tested for Covid-19 by an employee of Wild Health, UK's partner in Covid testing, in the Kroger Field drive-thru testing location.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 8, 2021) — You don’t have to be an athlete to be on an important team at the University of Kentucky. Each student identified as living and/or taking classes or doing research on UK’s campus is now part of a team and has the opportunity to win great incentives while helping keep the campus safe.

As part of UK’s continued efforts to battle COVID-19, the university is requiring students who are physically on campus to be tested for the virus throughout the semester. To make that requirement more interesting and fun, each student has been assigned to one of four testing teams, and each team is led by a coach in UK Athletics. The program is called Wildcat Strong.

Meet the teams and their coaches:

  • Team Elzy, led by UK women’s basketball Coach Kyra Elzy.
  • Team Greene, led by track and field Coach Lonnie Greene.
  • Team Lawson, led by women’s softball Coach Rachel Lawson.
  • Team Mingione, led by men’s baseball coach Nick Mingione.

“Special thanks to our four coaches from UK Athletics for joining our efforts to push through this semester with ongoing testing,” said Kirsten Turner, vice president for student success. “They’ll serve as a source of encouragement and friendly rivalry, as we work together to keep our community safe.”

Here’s how the process works:

  • Students have already been notified of the Wildcat Strong program and the team they are on. Team Elzy was the first team to be tested during the first week of February. Team Greene tests this week; Team Lawson tests Feb. 15-21; and Team Mingione tests Feb. 22-28. That rotation will continue through April.
  • Throughout the semester, team members will be alerted that it’s their turn to complete a COVID-19 test during their assigned seven-day period. Students can receive tests at no cost at one of the three student testing locations.
  • In February, each student will receive a free Wildcat Strong T-shirt after completing their COVID-19 test.
  • Students who complete on time also will be placed in a drawing for five $100 VISA gift cards, along with a daily random VISA card award of $10.
  • Team participation rates will be shared on social media.

“This has been a challenging year for our university, and we appreciate our students, faculty and staff doing what it takes to keep our campus safe,” Turner said. “We need to be “Wildcat Strong” for the rest of this semester. Let’s keep it up. And go Cats!”

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.