A long way from Louisville, 1,857 miles per Google, making our way to the top of Logan Pass in Glacier National Park. Negotiating the long and winding turns of a narrow two-lane highway while hoping to see the grizzly bears, moose, mountain goats and Bighorn sheep.
Along the way to the top, stopping briefly at a scenic overlook. Quiet. Peaceful. The view inspiring and despite low-hanging clouds and drizzle. We have arrived, away from it all. A vista of water, forests and mountains, taking time to savor the magnificence.
The silence is suddenly broken by a voice proclaiming, “Hey, we found some Louisville Cardinal fans.”
Coming toward us on the rocky incline is a smiling couple, the guy wearing a familiar UofL baseball cap like mine. It’s Wayne Smith and Gerry Artale, having made their way to this remote spot in Montana from Cornelius, a small town just north of Charlotte, NC. A gathering of Louisville fans in an unlikely place, eager to share UofL stories.
Wayne, a New York native, has been a staunch Louisville fan since the McCray brothers — Scooter and Rodney — committed to UofL in the late Seventies. “I used to watch them in pickup games in the park in the Bronx and Mt. Vernon,” he said. “They played with some great competition and they were really good. When they went to Louisville I became a UofL basketball fan.”
If UofL was on TV, he was watching. If the Cardinals were playing in New York, Wayne was usually there. “From the time the McCray brothers committed to play for Denny Crum, I have been rooting hard for them. Them and the New York Yankees are my favorite teams.”
Gerry became a UofL fan after meeting Wayne who moved to North Carolina in 1998. Wayne and Gerry have traveled to Louisville to see a couple of games each season.They got to know ticket manager Brad Barber and his staff quite well, with Gerry sometimes sending cookies to the staff. “They call me the cookie lady,” she said.
“Some people in New York and North Carolina have asked me over the years why I am such a big Louisville fan,” added Wayne. “I have always loved UofL’s style of basketball and I like Louisville people. I just love the school.”
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We would hook up with Wayne by telephone a few weeks later, learning that Gerry had undergone shoulder surgery. “It’s going to take a while for her to recover so that could affect our plans for this season,” he said. “Right now out goal is to make the last home game, which would be against Virginia Tech on March 1.”
Expect to see them at KFC Yum! Center that day. They do get around.