after a huge fall of soccer that included pulling double duty as a starting Varsity high school player as a freshman and helping the club team go undefeated in league play to make the jump up to the next level for spring, the spring has rolled into early summer with reward(s) for all the hard work. a cup, the U.S. Youth Soccer, Kentucky State Open Cup to be exact. for all the success in soccer, the trophies, the medals, the t-shirts, the atta-boys this item has been elusive. but no longer. great coaching, super commitment and a winning, positive mindset are all huge parts of this whirlwind run of the last 10 months. but it’s isn’t over yet…more for sure…
a quick tale of two boys who achieved the first part of a late spring/early summer goal. one (not pictured here) made it to NYC, as an intern at Hearst Publishing, settled into a room at NYC and will spend the next 3 months becoming something he wasn’t before he left Lexington. my heart is full for him. amazed at his guts and talent it took to get himself in the position to be there. he’s already won and doesn’t even know it. the second, pictured above, helped his team make it through the first round of the Kentucky State Cup. his team had a tremendous first weekend, executing 15 goals while giving up zero, zilch, nadda. he finished with a pair of goals and 3 assists on the weekend and some massive center midfield play in some important matches. so for a pair of boys, a nice weekend on the way to bigger missions as the summer progresses. forward they go. i just try and get a few pictures of it.
this photo is a classic example as to why i’m just not really a good photographer. no patience, no willingness to watch the scene unfold through the viewfinder, no intellectual moxie when it comes to “the decisive moment.” i guess that is why there are always too many words to accompany the images around here. always searching to explain the context of my clicks of the shutter.
you see, without the context, this is just two boys running, in soccer strips, happily across the green grass. the photographer (me) is in the wrong position, behind them, missing the joy in their faces. i’m also too far away and the frame is basically uninviting. but when you know the context, or i should say, “because i know the context,” there’s something more to the image. this moment is part of a series of moments, some photographed, some not, that included sixty-eight and a half minutes of soccer, a struggle, falling behind, tying the score late and then a game winner before the 70th minute that secures promotion next season to the top league available for the team.
only seconds before this frame was captured, my boy managed to find the back of the net with 21 other boys crowded into the box. and with the goal, he sprinted out of the crowd towards the other end of the field in exaltation with teammates streaming behind. this shot captured him and the first kid to him on the sprint, touching his back in congratulations sure, but there’s so much more than just that. context–team, brotherhood, competition, battle, family, victory, relief it’s all there, i just didn’t do my job showing enough of it. but i assure you we both won’t forget the context, with or without the good photography to prove it.
in a little more than a week, old boy #1 moves to NYC for 11 weeks for an internship in the very real world of publishing. proud, oh, I am. amazed at the courage he has, oh, i am. this week i am going to cram in a bunch of photography, it’s been awhile since i actually took a photo of him that wasn’t hurried and with a phone, some words, but only about what an adventure he will have and maybe a hint of things hidden in the cracks of the city. i can’t wait for him to live and learn in what is the greatest city in the world. i know his dance card is full and his life is transitioning to one of his own, the way it should be. but none of that ever lessens the size of the lump in my throat.
13th century theologian St. Thomas Aquinas explored human transgression, notably the seven deadly sins. of the sin of pride, he said, “inordinate self-love is the cause of every sin…” which some few centuries down the line can best be described like–we are so wrapped up in ourselves that we feel we really can’t be judged and don’t really have to go by the rules–and once we buy into that most of our transgressions are just written off not as sin but as freedom of choice. i’m not a religious sort at all and basically scoff at organized attempts at worship and the way that religion is used to control simple minds. but i do understand the need to put things into an order when it comes to life lessons explored in some of the writings related explaining sin, redemption and being a better person. these writings are worth pondering even if i don’t claim to be an expert on either side of theology. i think pride is something that us, Americans, have maybe way to much of, and so few of us have actually earned the self-love we shower upon ourselves. have you seen any campaign ads recently?
we, as spectators, get spoiled by professional athletes, musicians, artists, actors, dancers, etc. by how they make their chosen craft look effortless and at times just plain, easy. but we’re smarter than that right. the hours of practice, sweat, blood and want make it so much more than we could ever see.
so many different scenarios during the struggle are what truly make it “the beautiful game.” it’s never just goals or magical touches, sometimes it’s just about strength, will and physics.
i don’t claim to be much more than a sports fan, i’m no expert on the intricacies of what it takes to be “next level” but i do think upon thoughtful study of sport, be it soccer, basketball, football, tennis, volleyball – you get the point – the ability to accurately anticipate opponents’ intentions is a requisite skill that separates “great” athletes from “good” athletes. youth soccer players with that ability to see the next play before it develops, then willing that play to develop are the game changers. it doesn’t happen at the same rate with young footballers, it’s a process to have a team get that mind-meld where they all begin to anticipate what’s next and react accordingly. i know as a fan, it’s sure fun to watch it come together. it’s art.
when you have the ball in soccer, basketball, football, well, in any sport where you have control of the ball and you dupe the opposition with a move, a fake, a feint and they fall for it…we call it “breaking ankles.” you know, like “hey, i just broke that kid’s ankles.”