Monday, March 5, 2012

Serious Fun

Laughing.  Or at least smiling.  I've always found practice to be drudgery.  Even more so now that I'm shooting photos.  Not much happening to photograph.  I commented to Lily, "Practice is boring." 

"Not to me." 

And not to the players either.  They're actually having fun out there.   I started checking my photos for evidence of fun.  This turned out to be one of my favorite projects.  If you're a little down someday, want to be cheered  up a little, come on over and look through my Outlaws photos for smiling faces.  After awhile, you'll be smiling, too.  I certainly was smiling to myself as I prepared for this post.  Happiness is infectious.  I got infected.

Coach and GM Lily Messina.  Enjoying
every minute of every practice. 

All these smiling faces.  Make you want to smile, too, don't they?  The ones above were captured during meetings or pauses in the action on the field.  The one to the right of this text - should know her name but I've explained my weakness, too shy to ask, too short a memory to remember even if I did ask - she has just received a pass and is returning the ball to the quarterback.
The next shot, below, is during blocking practice.  Power vs power, hit that blocking pad, knock the one holding it backwards.  If you can.  Serious action.  Serious effort.  Serious fun.

Smile,  You're on candid camera.

Some players love cameras.  I try to remain inconspicuous.  Have a long lens so I can shoot my subjects unawares.  These two were aware.  They're having fun at practice.

There's a positive spirit at Outlaws practice.  My memory of practice when I played about a hundred years ago doesn't include much fun.  Not much laughing.  Lots of yelling.  I learned words my mother never taught me as coaches urged us to do better, try harder.  Practice was serious business.

That memory influences the way I photograph the Outlaws.  I stay out of the way.  I try not to get in the way.  Try not to interfere.  Try not to be noticed.  I assume the coaches are serious and have not time for distractions.  I say hi to players, discretely, but rarely say anything to coaches because they're working and I'd be a distraction.

Outlaws practices don't match my memory.  Coaches coach - they don't yell and cuss and throw things.  They quietly explain how to pass or run a route or defend a pass or block or tackle.  They do a lot of "atta-girls" when players get it right, or "good try" when players almost.   The atmosphere is positive, up, professional.  Coaches helping players master the skills that will win ballgames.  

Wrapping up after practice.  Don't know what the joke but you can tell everyone is having fun.

The photo below was published recently.  I'm publishing it again here because it is right on point.  Coach is demonstrating how to cover a receiver.  He's the receiver and the player (what's her name?) is defending.  She succeeds.  The pass is incomplete.  You can't see the other players on the sideline cheering for her, celebrating her success.  You can see, in this photo, her "gotcha" poke to coach's back.  They're working hard.  They're having fun. 

When I've interviewed Outlaws for my player profiles, I've asked for highlights of their playing experience.   Practically everyone commented on the camaraderie of being part of a team, part of this family.  As I viewed photos of players genuinely having fun while working on conditioning and skills, I began to see what they've been telling me. 
There is a spirit of "team" that is hard to capture with the camera.  I'll keep trying. 

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