I thought I would do something a little different this year and instead of just posting my favorite photos of the year like I usually do, I thought that I would actually post my top 10 favorite sports moments from events that I was fortunate to cover. I also thought it would be fun to reminisce a bit and share my thoughts about each particular event with you guys. These are also in no particular order.
10. Editing the Super Bowl. It was my first Super Bowl to attend in person and it was an extreme honor to be part of the USA Today Sports Images editing team and gain valuable experience as an onsite editor during one of the world's biggest events! It was fast and furious in the editing room and a ton of fun to see all of the wonderful images coming in to us throughout the day and night. Here you can see a quick iphone photo I took of our editing command center setup.
9. Photographing Jordan Spieth's golf coach Cameron McCormick for a feature in USA Today. It was truly a pleasure to meet, work with, and hang out a bit with Cameron as he is truly down to earth and very likable! Not to mention, he's one of the best golf coaches on the planet! Unfortunately, not even his greatness can save my horrible golf game. There was lots of cool Spieth memorabilia all over the walls and I even got to watch Cameron as he gave lessons to an up and coming golfer.
8. Editing the College World Series. It was my first trip to Omaha to cover this event and it was truly a thrill to see Virginia win the championship! I mainly edited our two photographers on the field but snuck out to get an upper angle photo of the inevitable winning "dogpile" and so glad I did! What a fun event with emotions running very high.
7. My first NFL playoff game. My first NFL playoff game was the Dallas Cowboys versus Detroit Lions game filled with controversy and excitement. The thing I will remember most is that most of the action went away from me and my set position most of the day with the exception of one of the last plays where Demarcus Lawrence caused Matthew Stafford to fumble on a sack late in the game. It was a very pivotal play and glad I was able to capture it.
6. Covering the NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships in Fort Worth. This was my first time to cover a gymnastics tournament and it was a lot of fun! It's amazing what these athletes can do and the competition was pretty fierce! The Florida Gators walked away with the trophy and Sports Illustrated for Kids Magazine even had one of my photos of Kytra Hunter made into a trading card.
5. Capturing this moment between Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and guard Quinn Cook. I really love covering basketball and was fortunate to cover the Elite 8 in Houston. Coach K rarely shows much emotion and so it was a great feeling to photograph this real and heartfelt moment during the victory over Gonzaga...I just noticed that Quinn is even using this pic on his twitter profile.
4. A killer sunset at the Irving High versus Timbercreek high school football game. Whenever I cover an event, I am always looking for a killer scene setting photo. As I was photographing this game in the second quarter, I noticed the sky starting to change colors and so I moved to the other side of the field and waited a bit. Soon, the sky would be absolutely breathtaking and it led to one of my favorite photos this year!
3. Photographing Portraits of the Dallas Cowboys for NBC's Sunday Night Football. My buddy Jim Cowsert and I take portraits of the Dallas Cowboys each year so that NBC can run the images in their "Sunday Night Football" package every week. It's a much more laid back environment than some of my other shoots and the athletes really get into it since they know the whole country will see the photos! Here is a "straight out of the camera" sequence I did with then starting quarterback Matt Cassell and a short video clip that NBC sent me showing how it ran on that week's Sunday Night Football game...
2. Capturing Oklahoma's Steven Parker's dramatic season saving deflection against TCU. As most of you know, I am an Oklahoma alum, and due to my crazy schedule, I only got to cover one Sooner football game this year. It just so happened that I was in the right place at the right time to photograph what some people are saying is the biggest play this season for the Sooners. TCU went for a two-point conversion late in the game that would have given them the victory and out of nowhere, Steven Parker leapt up like superman and saved the day. The photo went pretty viral and even led the Dallas Morning News College section the next day.
1. Photographing the 1st College Football Playoff Championship game. As the official photographer for the college football playoff, it was an extreme honor to be hired to photograph the first set of championship events and gameday. I had a fantastic team of over ten photographers who helped me capture all of the events the weekend leading up to the big day as well as the game itself and the complements we all received were such a blessing! As I type this, we are gearing up to do an even better job in Phoenix starting next week and how cool would it be if my Sooners happen to be in the big game?
Bonus - 2015 Battle for Atlantis Basketball Tournament - This was my 4th year in a row covering the Battle 4 Atlantis and it is one of my favorite events to work. Besides the obvious of being in the Bahamas, the tournament folks are wonderful to work with and have taken great care of me over the years. Not to mention, the basketball is top notch and really gets my photography game ready for the long season. Syracuse outlasted Texas A&M to take the title this year.
BUT, I have to admit that the main Battle 4 Atlantis highlight for me this year was actually getting permission from the Atlantis animal trainers to take a portrait of "Cassie" the Sea Lion balancing a basketball on her nose! I can't say that I have ever done that before!! In fact, I just had to take a selfie with her when we were done!
I hope you guys have enjoyed a little peek into some of my favorite sports moments over the last year. I really want to thank USA Today Sports Images, The College Football Playoff, NBC, Atlantis, and my savior Jesus Christ for allowing me to capture these wonderful moments and trust me, I consider myself very blessed. Here's to a wonderful 2016!!