The first assignment I ever shot for The Post happened three years ago when I wasn’t even working here. I worked for another campus publication my freshman year, and that spring, my friend and I were walking back home to our dorm when we ran into Jason Chow (the Director of Photography at the time) and talked for a little bit. He asked me if I was doing anything later that day because the original photographer for a softball portrait couldn’t make it. I agreed, and when I took the portrait, I didn’t think it would get into the paper at all and thought it would only run online. Little did I know that design staff made the picture rather large in print, and that it would be the first of many pictures taken while working here.
That initial portrait was the catalyst that set off my time working here at The Post, and over the years I’ve had the opportunity to talk to amazing people, cover events I never thought possible and work alongside the best student journalists in the world. This blog might be the last one I write this semester, and I wanted to take the time to reflect on my time here and also talk about some of my favorite images I’ve created. All of the images are sports photos because during the last three years I’ve covered OU sports extensively for The Post.
The picture that started it all is on the left. I didn’t really know where I had to go or who I had to talk to, but luckily I figured it out. I was incredibly nervous, but both the sports information director at the time and the player were really nice, so my anxiety subsided right away. The article that the photo was for was about how college athletes have to juggle both their academic and athletic workloads during the season. When I took the picture I didn’t even know that it was going to be in the paper, so it was a surprise when my friends told me about it!
Throughout my time here, shooting sports has been my favorite thing to do because I’ve been an athlete my whole life, so having the chance to combine that and photography was something I jumped on. I don’t really have a favorite sport to shoot (mostly because shooting each sport brings its own challenges with it), but the one sport that got me hooked was definitely volleyball. Sadly, volleyball is one of the more underrated sports here at OU, but it is consistently one of the best teams. Coach Deane Webb and the coaches before him have created a dynasty and every year from 2002-2015 the team reached either the semifinals or the championship game of the Mid-American Conference Tournament, winning it nine times. Some of the best athletes I’ve seen don the green and white were on the volleyball team, including Kelly Lamberti and Abby Gilleland. They both were incredible players whose passions showed in different ways. Lamberti was quiet — she would run into the huddle with just a small smile on her face after a kill that made the whole crowd gasp. Gilleland, however, would jump and yell passionately after every point and was an obvious team leader. Ohio hosted the MAC Tournament in 2014 and 2015, so it was amazing to be able to cover both tournaments and see the emotions.
I was a stringer photographer during my first two years here and while I had the opportunity to talk to some amazing people and travel to games, it was nothing compared to what I got to experience this year. I’ve traveled to Neyland Stadium (which seats more than 100,000) to cover OU’s game against Tennessee, went to Detroit to cover the MAC Championship football game, traveled around with Post sports writers and editors Luke O’Roark, Andrew Gillis and Charlie Hatch to Bowling Green (and with just Luke to Akron) during basketball season. To top it off, I covered the MAC Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
All of these experiences were so incredible, and if it weren’t for The Post I never would have had the opportunity to do any of this. I’m from a rural town in Northwest Pennsylvania, and when I decided on photography as a major, I didn’t know where it would take me. Never did I ever imagine going to an SEC and NFL stadium to cover OU football or to a bowl game and other postseason games. It’s been an incredible run these last three years with The Post, and not a day goes by where I’m not thankful for the opportunities I’ve had.
I’m not ashamed to say that after Ohio’s loss to Kent State in the MAC Tournament semifinals, I cried. It wasn’t out of sadness due to the loss (OK, it was a little bit), but mostly it was because I knew that my time covering sports at OU had come to an end. I looked around Quicken Loans Arena, and reflected on all that I had experienced over the years, and even though I was misty eyed, I was smiling the whole time.