I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: nothing tops prep sports.
Not a thing.
And it’s there waiting to be captured, wanting to be captured.
Inspired by my recent trip, I made the conscious decision to stay off the couch and keep on truckin’. Thankfully, it’s championship season. Soccer is next weekend. This weekend was a double-feature: Class 5A & 6A volleyball finals.
I’ll be honest. While I was in Vietnam, I felt a pang of envy for those shooting the USC/Oregon game back home in Eugene. Two top-10 teams. Autzen. Perennial powerhouse vs. perennial runner up.
When I was a young photographer, being stuck with only prep sports at the community paper, I dreamt of the day when I’d be at the BIG GAME, battling the top sports shooters in the state for the right to belong. High school sports were, well, high school sports. Big news in the county, but Sports Illustrated would never call up asking me to cover the Amity title game.
But Amity was great for photos. Better access, better drama. I knew the kids. They knew me. In fact, I turned 29 the day Amity celebrated their first volleyball title (above). Some of the kids knew it was my birthday and handed me a lei. Pretty sweet.
The next year, I was working for The Oregonian and went back to the championship well on my own. They didn’t want photos from the 2A finals. But I did. Amity repeated. After making this vertical photo (a rarity), one of the kids saw me and said, “Hey Sol! Isn’t it your birthday? Happy birthday!” Left me speechless (another rarity).
When I arrived on Saturday, the day after my 39th birthday, I immediately bumped into Cindy with OSAA. She did a double take and said in her wonderful Southern drawl, “Sol, where ya been? We miss having your smile around here.”
Later, I complimented her on the all-time BEST high school player introduction I’ve ever witnessed. They turned the lights out and ran spot lights on the kids as the PA system boomed their names. Felt like I was at a Blazers game.
One thing that’s great about HS volleyball: there’s no lack of celebration. Even during the regular season, every side out looks like championship point.
There’s a lot of history between these two Catholic powerhouses. Jesuit (#2) was the defending champs. Top-ranked Central Catholic had defeated Jesuit two out of three times this year. When CC pulled out the victory, hundreds of kids rushed the court. So much emotion, was simply great, perhaps greater than the photos I made.
I so love that passion and excitement.
A photographer I know came up to me afterwards and said, “Sol, you’re smiling. You look so happy!”