Wildcat Strong Program Underway for Ongoing Student COVID-19 Testing

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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!”

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.