Monday, April 22, 2013

Take the Photographs and Still Frames in Your Mind

The title of this post is some of the lyrics from Green Day's "Time of Your Life". Whether it be during the Seinfeld finale, a wedding, a Bar Mitzvah, or at a graduation, you have likely heard this song before as a way of commemorating a special event. This post will take you on a photographic journey through my time here at Vanderbilt.

One of my favorite hobbies, outside of sports, is photography. The saying "a picture says a thousand words" is as cliched as it gets, but for me that statement rings true. I love taking pictures, because I love being able to look back at them and recall all the memories surrounding that distinct moment in time. When I look at a picture, it brings me back vividly to the past. I remember how I was feeling and what was going on at a given moment and that is why I love photography. It can often serve as a window into the past that we may otherwise overlook, and over the course of my managerial career I have taken hundreds of photos.

These photos are not just of game action, but team events, sightseeing, and anything else worth photographing. I have linked to my Vanderbilt Basketball album on Shutterfly here so you can look through all of my photos over the years if you so choose (each photo is captioned to give some background on it). This album includes every photo I have taken at a basketball related event or basketball road trip, but for those of you who don't want to look through all 420, here are some of my favorites from over the years:

 I like this shot because it really captures the uniqueness of Oregon's home gym, Matthew Knight Arena. You can see the color scheme on the floor quite clearly and how the gym has an incredibly futuristic feel to it. It captures the enormity of the arena.

This is Sunset over the Willamette River in Oregon. You can see both the shadows of trees on the right side setting in and the reflections of those on the left side over the river, with the sun making its way down the middle of the river. I loved exploring Eugene, as it is an incredibly beautiful city and this picture kind of encapsulates the natural beauty found there.

This picture is from Disney World when we are about to head into the 3D ride. It is myself, Coach Turner, and Rob Cross, Nick Souder, and Rafi Goldman. This is a fun shot and kind of a reminder of all the cool things we get to do as part of the program and also how basketball isn't the be all and end all of time with the team.

This is me, Nick Souder, Rob Cross, and Josh Henderson trying on different Disney hats at Disney World. Goes along with what I said about the picture above.

This picture is me with Bob Knight. Myself and Rafi, another manager, were anxious to meet Coach Knight when he came to broadcast our game vs Kentucky this year, but it was beyond intimidating. Not only does Coach Knight's reputation precede him, but he also kind of carries this cold, hard grimace around with him that makes approaching him seem quite scary. The fact that he is not smiling here is quite appropriate.

This is 5 of our managers (minues Nick Souder) with Coach Franklin after our game vs UT this year. Our game versus UT each year is a "White-Out" and the fans are encouraged to wear White, and this year the managers joined them as we decked out in White polos, White pants, and White shoes to take part in the promotion. It was cool to get this shot with Coach Franklin because of how prominent he has been in raising the level of school spirit on campus.

This is from Florida's Senior Day this past year. Kenny Boynton was the 2nd leading scorer in program history and despite getting a lot of flak for his playing style from the media and fans, he is an incredibly accomplished player. I like how this photo shows Boynton kind of getting everything off his chest and opening himself up to the love of the fans and his teammates, who you can see are all on their feet to celebrate his career.

This photo is from my Senior Day this past year. I like how both my parents are looking at the camera while my sister and I are looking off for Coach Stallings who is on his way with a new mop.

Another from Senior Day. This photo sums up the job as a manager I feel like. We are on the periphery of the team and in the background to those on the outside. So as the team huddles up, I pose for a picture for my dad and it kind of symbolizes the precarious place of the managers. We are involved in the team but we don't coach and we don't play, we are like the invisible cogs that make the engine go.

This is the other managers hoisting me after Senior Day. To me this symbolizes the philosophy of our managerial staff which is that we have each other's back and we cover for one another. If someone needs help, we help them out, and someone can't be at a practice we cover for them knowing that they will do the same for us at some point. This photo is cool in that my back is against all of them which is literally showing what we preach figuratively, that they have my back.

I like this photo of the team huddling up after winning the SEC Tournament because it shows the power of this group and their committment to one another. There are fans, media, cheerleaders, and a host of officials surrounding them at this moment but they tune everything out to show their thanks and humbled appreciation for this moment and what they just accomplished.

This sums up Dai-Jon Parker's personality well. Dai-Jon is one of the most outgoing members of the team and he is incredibly entertaining. This took place when we were in New York City last year for the Legends Classic tournament and we spent an evening in Times Square. Dai-Jon got into a stare off with a mime to the enjoyment of the crowd.

Despite being 73 years old, Dick Vitale remains a great ambassador for the game of college basketball. His passion for the sport comes through each time he does a broadcast and you get the sense this man truly loves what he does. This photo was taken before our game versus Kentucky last year with Dickie V in front of our student section, enjoying the moment and soaking up the love from fans who are as passionate about him as he is about the game.

I really like this shot of Steve Tchiengang. It was during a 30 second timeout during our game versus Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament and Steve was not in the game during the huddle, so he is kind of just looking out and thinking about the game at hand. He looks very reflective and almost larger than life in this photo based on his position to the others on his left.

This is the team holding up the SEC logo and trophy after winning the Tournament. I love this photo because while you can see the pure joy on the guys' faces, you can also see the utter exhaustion present. Playing 3 games in 3 days is challenging for anybody, especially when the last game is against the best team in the country. At this point, the guys are just emotionally and physically drained, yet so thrilled so this photo captures both sides of their emotions.

Last year our NCAA Tournament games were in Albuquerque and my dad came out for the games. The day between games we went hot air ballooning over Albuquerque and this is a shot from up in the sky looking out on the city and it is cool to see the way the city is designed from above, as well as the physical features of the city.

This photo is from the 2011 SEC Tournament and it is of former Tennessee star Tobias Harris, now with the Orlando Magic. Not much behind this photo, it's just kind of a cool/unique face he is making in this shot.

Another shot from the 2011 SEC Tournament. This is of Rob Cross filming one of our games (with his eyes closed). Filming the games is not the most exciting part of our job by any means and it can be quite tedious to be all the way up top away from the action and clearly the tedium of the moment overtook Rob.

A shot of the Georgia Dome from the SEC Tournament in 2011. The playing of basketball games in football domes is a hotly debated topic and this picture really captures how those environments are just not conducive to basketball. The court is so small in the grand scheme of the stadium and nothing about this setting looks natural. It is also a TERRIBLE environment for games. The fans are disinterested and very far from the action, I hated this as a venue.

This is me and John Jenkins after winning the SEC Tournament. As mentioned in the post I just linked, John and I are very close and during this moment I was so proud of him for being named MVP of the Tournament and winning this. John poured his heart and soul into the program and into that Tournament run, and you can see that on his face here. Despite doing his best to smile, he is almost too exhausted to do so. 

Like the photo of Dai-Jon above, this really captures his outgoing personality. This is him making "confetti angels " with the confetti that came down after winning the SEC Tournament. Pure, unadulterated joy.

This photo really sums up my relationship with Steve Tchiengang. Steve is always seeking the best out of others, just like he seeks the best from himself, and he is always attempting to help me "improve your swag" said with his deep accent. This is from his senior night, where Steve wanted to make sure I got the most out of my smile.

This was taken before our NCAA game versus Wisconsin last year. It is of John Jenkins and Jeff Taylor before pre-game introductions. You can see the look on Jeff's face (he is on the right) and also with John's body language which shows just how seriously they are preparing for this matchup. Their intense focus and warrior mentality show through in this photo.

I really like this photo. I took it last year after our game versus Kentucky in the Marriott hotel next to Memorial Gym. UK always stays there when they are in town and my parents were in town and also stayed there this weekend. There were probably 10 or 15 fans around him at this time and one of their managers made sure he wasn't taking pictures with any of them (some compliance violation he said, really just an excuse not to bother him) so I took this picture of him, alone. He is kind of staring off into the distance and seems disconnected from the madness surrounding him.

I will let this one be self-explanatory....

This was taken during the SEC Tournament semifinals last year when Kentucky played Florida. It was coming out of a timeout, and Florida was hanging tough with UK, you got the sense they really could beat them and I remember the five players in this picture: Erik Murphy, Erv Walker, Pat Young, Kenny Boynton, and Brad Beal walking out together with an intense purpose and wanting so badly to finish the job, but they came up short.

This is another shot from hot air ballooning in Albuquerque and it is of a 4-way intersection, it is cool to look at something that is a part of our daily lives from a new perspective.

This is from last year in New Orleans for the SEC Tournament. Bourbon Street is obviously notorious for nightlife and I like how the sign for Bourbon Street and the two red lights are the only things captured against a pitch Black sky.

This was taken as Festus was looking at the senior day video presentation for him on the Jumbotron. He played at Vanderbilt for five years and was a very important player for this program and I like the look of awe in his eyes as he watches all he has accomplished flash before his eyes. It is like he is mesmerized by what is going on and it is a really cool look.

I like this photo because of Brad Tinsley's reaction to Coach Franklin's presence. I remember seeing Coach Franklin tap Brad on the shoulder and Brad be unsure of who it was and this is a cool moment before their exchange with Coach Franklin's hand out to congratulate Brad on his career.

 This is a shot of Thompson-Boling Arena at Tennessee from the upper level. I like how the court is almost neon looking when looked at in comparison to the Orange-clad crowd as well as the glow of the scoreboard. It is also cool to see all of the UT Women's Basketball title banners hovering over the arena.

I like this photo from Memorial Madness last year because it shows Coach Stallings in a different light. Many fans only see Coach in his intense sideline demeanor, and this gives a glimpse into the other side of his personality that many don't get to see.

From senior night this year, me embracing Kyle Fuller. I just really like this shot, from the embrace, to the team surrounding us, to my mom smiling on the side. It really summed up what was truly a fun day to be a part of for me.

As many of you know I have embraced my role as The Mop Guy and have grown attached to my mop over the years. This is me hoisting the autographed mop (as shown on the Jumbotron) I was given by the team and Coach Stallings on senior night, and for once the man who works the least glorious job in college sports was finally on top.

Like the photo above, this took place after I mopped up an enormous wet spot in our game versus UK this year. It took quite awhile for the spot to be sufficiently mopped so the student section gave me a standing O after I finished. This is me saluting the crowd.

Coach admiring me at work.

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