Saturday, September 20, 2008

Crosstown Showdown

I'm actually about a week behind with my posts. Things have been busy. The annual cross-town football game between the two local city high schools was last week. This year was a little different than in the past. Cooper High School dropped down to Class 4A while Abilene High stayed in 5A. So, for the first time in the series this game was played as a non-district game. Basically that means there were no playoff implications on the line... just pride.
This was the 10th time I've shot this game, both teams this year are pretty good. The last couple years Cooper hasn't been very good, a couple of those they flat-out sucked. This year was different, which is a good thing. There were fans filling both sides of the stadium I'm not great at guessing crowd sizes but I'd guess there were at least 15,000 people there. The traffic after the game is awful, it usually takes about 40 minutes to make the normal 5 minute drive back to the office. Luckily, unlike my parents house, the stadium has wifi (Texas high school football is unlike high school sports anywhere else), so I can send my photos back instead of sitting in traffic.
Since anywhere between 10-15% of the city's population is at the game it is obviously a big deal. Leading up to the week we run poster pages voted on the internet as to what photo will run on the back of the sports page in the next days paper (we average about 40,000 votes a day). And on Saturday we have a color story about the atmosphere on the front page, as well as the gamer on the sports front. Needless to say it's a busy night.
Anyone who knows me, knows I'm usually late for just about everything I do. Football games have always been the exception. Even for high school games I try to get there an hour early. Number one, I can get a decent parking space. If you show up for a game here 15 minutes before the game you're going to end up walking a while, for this game it's about 10 times as bad. So for this game I get there by 6pm for a 7:30pm kickoff. It also gives me time to get there and shoot some fan photos for the front page story.
So, when I'm pulling into the parking lot I see these six guys (see top photo) with their shirts off and chests half-painted. I whip into a parking spot grab my gear and run over there. I spent about 30 minutes shooting and waiting for them to get more of themselves painted and the right moment etc. Hey, I had plenty of time since I wasn't late and was going to be sending from the stadium anyway. Well, it turns out they were the blue man group (bottom photo) from the week earlier. They told me "We're basketball players, we don't have anything else to do in the off-season so we're going to do this... even for all the away games." So, showing up early paid off, I was able to get my fan shot for one team, get to the pressbox, set up my computer download and send the pix before the game even started, and I was still able to get on the field 30 minutes before the game even started. Abilene High won the game so we ended up using the fan shot of the AHS girls cheering on the front, but I was able to get the body painters photo in Abilenian our weekly "community news" section... basically another outlet for photos. On another note, my co-worker Victor Cristales did a really cool video from the game that he incorporated some of my photos into, check it out here.

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