Sunday, November 26, 2006

Oregon 5A and 6A Soccer Championships

If I'm not playing soccer, I'm likely shooting soccer; I have thousands of soccer images on file. Knowing the game, makes it more fun to shoot the game. It doesn't have to be a "big game," I enjoy shooting any soccer game, but the "big games" can bring out more passion and emotion...and nothing brings that out like high school state championships.

At the 6A level, Jesuit's boys team found itself in a very familiar setting as they made their 12th final appearance against McMinnville, a team who had never made it to a championship final. It was the classic tale of David toppling Goliath as the quick, skillful and industrious Grizzlies shocked Jesuit by winning 2-1 in an overtime penalty shootout. The match was extremely fast paced and physical which, along with the tensions of a shootout, built up to an explosion of joy for McMinnville when that last PK settled in the back of the net. For the 6A girls, Tualatin won its second championship in as many years as it dominated a pesky Oregon City side, winning 3-0 in a match that turned out to be a bit of a yawner.

For me, the match of the day was the 5A boys final pitting an underdog side from Hillsboro High against a heavily favored Bend team. Early in the match Hillsboro surprisingly jumped out to a 1-0 lead, but only to go down to 10 men two minutes later when one of its players was ejected for a dangerous tackle. Forced to play over three-quarters of the match a man down, Hillsboro not only beat the odds, they beat Bend by an amazing margin of 5-2. The passion and emotion that Hillsboro used to overcome a favored side while being a man short burst out in an ardent post-game celebration with its faithful fans.

Oregon High School Water Polo Championships

When it comes to water polo, the Newberg Tigers boys and girls own the state of Oregon. The Newberg boys team claimed the 2006 championship title by thumping Westview of Beaverton 18-2 in the final game at the Osborn Swim Center in Corvallis. The ladies followed suit by dominating the Skyhawks of Southridge 8-2 in their final, winning their 14th state title in the past 20 years.

I was shooting for the Beaverton Valley Times and the Tigard-Tualatin Times as Southridge, Westview, Beaverton and Aloha sent teams to the state finals from the Beaverton area and the Tualatin boys battled Southridge to win third place honors. Being my first water polo match, I found it to be a bit of a challenge to shoot, as the light was very low and splashing water kept blowing out the autofocus. The shooting went well, but I felt I could have done better. Between the two publications, seven shots were published, as the Beaverton Valley Times ran five of them in color with its complete tournament coverage filling more than a full page.

Tualatin Giant Pumpkin Regatta

When I received a call to cover a regatta in Tualatin, Oregon, I wasn’t aware that the suburb town outside of Portland had a regatta. The slow moving Tualatin River does run through the heart of town, but it is not navigatable to anything other than rafts, rowboats and kayaks. So when I questioned the assignment editor as to where the regatta would be held, I was a bit surprised to hear that the regatta would be held in the town’s small Lake at the Commons…and I was even more surprised to hear that the rowers would not be racing sleek, high-tech sculls but will be rowing in pumpkins…giant pumpkins.

It was the third annual Giant Pumpkin Regatta sponsored by the Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers Association. Giant vegetable growers are a competitive bunch, as every year they attempt to top each other by growing the largest pumpkin, even competing on a national and world basis. The current world record giant pumpkin tops out at 1,504 pounds. So as the growing season winds down, the growers extend their competitive nature by carving out giant pumpkins, jumping inside them and race around the Lake at the Commons in Tualatin. It’s quite an event, one that can only be witnessed, not described.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Little Big Men

From the sidelines and the stands, they look out of perspective on the local high school football field. Despite the added dimensions that helmets and pads provide, youth football players still don't look all that big...they don't cover as much ground as senior players do under the Friday Night Lights. But when a camera shutter is able to catch them at key moments of a game...they look every much the part...they are an emulation of "the Pros."

Throughout the youth football ranks and ages, player sizes range from "more uniform than there is kid" "we don't have a jersey big enough for that kid"...and all sizes in between. The common denominator is the size of each athlete's's BIG. Abilities also vary in the youth game...but no matter what, the kids give it all they've got...week in, week out. One of the greatest compliments I ever received for my sports photos was from an ecstatic father who understood that his child is one of those kids that doesn't exactly dominate the first string line-up. He said, "Wow! You were able to make my son look like a real football player...Thank you, thank you so much!" I was humbled...all I did was capture the moment where his son actually did look like a real football player. How the perspective of things change when we look at them differently.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A New Year...a New League...Great Results

The governing body overseeing Oregon high school athletics (the OSAA) made a revolutionary, and somewhat controversial, move last year to realign its leagues from a four level system to a six level system. The net result was a balancing of the power closer to the respective student population of competing schools. For schools such as Glencoe High School in Hillsboro, Oregon the realignment provided a more equitable level of competition for their league play.

For the second year, I was a volunteer coach for Glencoe's JV soccer program. Over the years, the school has developed a solid program. The league realignment provided Glencoe an opportunity take a leadership position in the Northwest Oregon Conference of the 5A division, and the program seized that opportunity this Fall. The Varsity boys finished first in the conference with an overall record of 15-1-1 and are in the midst of the playoffs for the OSAA 5A Championships.

The JV Team's success this year shows great promise for the program in seasons to follow, for they compiled an impressive 13-1-0 record with 76 goals for, 9 against. Defensively, the backline players were menacing, hard working and dominant in the air. The midfield was a combination of workhorses and play-making tactitcians, while up front a combination of quickness and artistic creativity produced the offensive threats resulting in the ball frequently resting in opponents' nets. Success at the JV level does not always guarantee Varsity success...but the Glencoe program has a solid foundation to maintain their leadership in the Northwest Oregon Conference and the newly formed 5A division.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

What I Did During My Summer Vacation

Followers of my blog (and yes, there are some followers) have noticed that the updates drifted off in August. everyone else, my excuses are many and all relate to how busy it's been. No let's catch up real's how the Summer wound up for 2006...

Condon's Fabulous Fourth of July
Nothing beats spending the Fourth in the North-Central Oregon community of Condon. The town hosts a full agenda of events during the holiday week and I had a great time shooting a handful of them. Highlights included the Fabulous Fourth Fun Run and Walk, the Kids Games at the high school, the Big Parade, the Soapbox Derby, Breakfast and Dinner in the Park, bagpipes in the Hotel Condon, Fabulous Fourth Fireworks...and the list goes on and on. Special appearance this year was Mother Nature with a Fabulous Fourth Electrical Extravaganza lighting up the evening sky. Nothing beats it...Nothing!

Camping at the Prineville Reservoir

The annual neighborhood camping trip destination once again was the Prineville Reservoir in Central Oregon. The weather was great...nice and hot. The boats were running sun-up to sun-down...pulling skiers, boarders and tubers. Lots of good food, drink and cases of sunscreen. It was a great week.

Beaverton Party in the Park

I had some fun assignments for the Beaverton Valley Times over the Summer, including shooting a classic car show that was part of the Party in the Park celebration sponsored by the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District held at the Howard M. Terpenning Recreation Center. Some very cool cars were on display...spent a few hours taking a ton of shots and chatting with owners, who had some great stories about their restoration projects.

Tualatin Crawfish Festival
It's a 56 year old tradition. The city of Tualatin, Oregon proudly celebrates...the crawfish! Members of the local VFW began the festival after their new lodge was completed in 1951. At the time, crawfish were hugely abundant in the Tualatin River that ran through town, so the forefathers of the event saw fit to celebrate and promote crawfish. The tons of crawfish sold and eaten at the festival today are now shipped in on pallets from Lake Billy Chinook in Central Oregon. I shot multiple festival events on the Saturday of the weekend event, including a cycling criterium, the Crawfish Festival Parade, a model powerboat regatta and...of course...the famed crawfish eating contest. The winner downed 97 of the crustacean in 15 minutes. You had to see it to believe it.