The Kickers

in Brodheadsville on Friday, October 2, 2015.

The place kickers and punters in a football game can become heroes or goats in an instant. Just look at the fate of the NFL kickers this past Sunday and how many kicks missed their mark. It is not easy being a football kicker. The pressure and conditions can all take a toll on the psyche of any kicker. Last Friday night the weather in Brodheadsville for Pleasant Valley was terrible. It was raining steadily and the wind was whipping. Consider this: being a high school kicker is hard enough in good conditions let alone these terrible conditions!

in Brodheadsville on Friday, October 2, 2015.

Photographing a kicker can be equally frustrating! A lot of action happens on every place kick, punt, and kickoff. Players and referees appear all over the field and oftentimes right  in front of the kicker! Timing is imperative, too.

I think of capturing the kickers during the game as a game within the game for us sports photographers. Newspapers, magazines, and news wires want the touchdown scores and sometimes the celebrations after the score. But then, immediately after all this exciting action, is the point after attempt. We need to get into the proper location right away or we will completely miss the extra point attempt.

Here is one more of my favorite shots I captured of a high school kicker. Kickers do not have it easy and yet win many games!

at  in Stroudsburg on Friday, September 4, 2015.

 

 

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It was an exciting opener in Stroudsburg, that’s for sure! The Mounties hosted the Nazareth Eagles on a hot and muggy night as the opening high school football season got under way. An interception returned for a TD by Nazareth opened the scoring and then Stroudsburg immediately responded with a kickoff return in what would be a final score of 49-47.

It felt good to be on the field again as the season opened and these two teams put their best effort on the field. All the hard work of summer camp paid off splendidly. Big plays, speed, and grit & determination were displayed by both teams.

The new season has begun!

at  in Stroudsburg on Friday, September 4, 2015.

High School Golf

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Well, the fall sports season is underway. Yesterday I had the opportunity to photograph a local high school golf match featuring Notre Dame East Stroudsburg v. Stroudsburg. It was a beautiful day for golf and the teams competed well. I was amazed at the low scores and demeanor of these high school golfers.

The photo above features Ryan Krechel, a senior at Notre Dame East Stroudsburg. I had the privilege of coaching him in Little League Baseball and its hard to believe how fast these players grow up! Krechel shot a 79 on the course yesterday! And, yet, all the while he was tearing it up out there, he remained polite and humble the whole time.

The second shot of the day features Brian Frey of Stroudsburg exiting the bunker nicely on hole 18. Frey shot an 82 for the round! He also maintained great composure during the match. It was great fun and a complete joy to follow these guys around much of the day! With young men like this, our future looks bright!

Both of these photos were published today in the Pocono Record. You can view my complete photo gallery of the golf match here: http://www.bobshankphotography.com/Gallery%20Photos/G%202014-08-26/

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Pleasant Valley Upsets Stroudsburg in the MVC Playoffs!

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Pleasant Valley struck first. It was the third inning and Matt Pierce reached first on a single. Then he reached second base on a wild pitch. Brendan Kearns came to the plate and laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt, which moved Pierce to third. Then, on another wild pitch, Pierce scored the first run of the game!

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Chris Burke pitched a masterful game for PV. He only gave up four intentional walks, all to Mike Nikorak, the MVC Most Valuable Player. The Bears defense was solid behind Burke and he kept recording outs in a very efficiently pitched game.

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Stroudsburg kept trying to apply pressure, but they kept hitting ground balls or flies to the outfielders. They had a few base runners but could not bring more than one around to score.

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In the bottom of the fourth inning a hard ground ball was hit to PV’s shortstop, Travis Van Houten. He fielded the ball cleanly, threw to Adam Raseley at second base, who then pivoted and threw to Ariel Mejia at first base for a beautiful double play!

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The Bears tacked on two more runs in the top of the seventh inning. The last of these insurance runs came when the #4 batter, James Shank, executed a great bunt in a well-coached two-out squeeze play. There wasn’t even a play at the plate!

Congratulations to the Pleasant Valley Bears Baseball team in their MVC Playoff victory over Stroudsburg 4-1! It was a great game!

A Great Night of High School Wrestling!

Stroudsburg Wrestling

Nazareth against Stroudsburg and Pocono Mountain East against Northampton. What a night for high school wrestling!

Both matches were filled with excitement and well into the bouts, both matches were tied! The enthusiastic crowd cheered on.

Stroudsburg Wrestling

Nazareth pulled away from Stroudsburg about three-quarters of the way through the match with a couple of well-placed pins. The other match, however, went down to the last and final bout. Northampton was leading by three points going into the final matchup. The crowd was stirred into a frenzy as the final and deciding bout began. The decision went to East and they won the match 31-30!

Even the winners looked worn out on this night!

Stroudsburg Wrestling

See more photos here.

 

 

One Friday Night Shoot Produces Five Published Photographs!

Stroudsburg v. Pocono Mountain East

Stroudsburg v. Pocono Mountain East

Stroudsburg v. Pocono Mountain East

Stroudsburg v. Pocono Mountain East

Stroudsburg v. Pocono Mountain EastFriday night I photographed the football game in Swiftwater, PA featuring Stroudsburg vs. Pocono Mountain East. It was a typical night for high school football and I was in my favorite place — right by the action with my camera!

I am getting better and progressing in my photographic skills in trying to capture the action at these Friday night games, but in no way was I prepared for what was about to happen after this game!

I went about my business as usual, trying to capture the action and tell the game story with my camera. I knew I had some decent shots, and maybe even a pretty good one, by halftime. I  transmitted several photos to my editor, then went home to create a photo gallery and sent that in, too. Typically, one photo runs in the newspaper the following day.

Well, later that night I saw two of my photos were published. The next morning I realized a third one was published in the next day’s paper. One more was published on Monday, and a fifth photo was published in Tuesday’s paper!

So how did five photographs from one Friday night football game get published? Well, the first two were of a touchdown with the running back dragging would-be tacklers into the endzone. These were pretty good shots telling the essence of the game with a touchdown being scored; not a bad start. The third photo was a group shot of five athletes being inducted into the Pocono Mountain East Hall of Fame, which was celebrated at halftime. Knowing this was going to happen, paying attention enough to capture some group shots, and capturing all five names helped to get this photo published. The fourth photo surprised me when I saw it in the newspaper, but it was in the “Fifth Quarter Notes,” a wrap-up of the weekend football action, so that made sense. It was actually one of my favorites because it showed a defensive back intercepting a pass in front of a receiver, both of whom were in the air at the time with the ball just being caught. Finally, the fifth photo from Friday night’s game was printed in today’s newspaper in a feature written about Stroudsburg’s running back, Gerald Douglas. I knew this was possibly going to happen because the writer asked if I captured any good photos of Douglas at the game. Fortunately, I did capture a few decent photos and one fit the bill for this article today.

You never know what might happen. I photographed Friday night’s game just like many other ones before, but this time five of my photos were deemed worthy for print in the Pocono Record! I was surprised by this but obviously pleased. Now I have an additional goal on my photo list: get six or more photos published from one shoot!

In the meantime, I will continue honing my photo skills and try to perfect my craft. The moment I rest on my laurels or feel satisfied with my results will be the day I fail. Nope; I have to keep getting better and I have to keep moving closer to meeting my many photographic goals. Each game provides plenty of opportunities to capture the exciting action and tell the game story! I am already looking forward to the next game!

 

The Coin Toss

Stroudsburg v. Pocono Mountain East

Before a high school football game, the referee flips a coin to determine who will first receive the ball to start the game. This happens just after the Friday night warmups in my area, so the gathering at midfield just before kickoff is merely ceremonial. The actual coin toss occurs even before the pre-game activities, including the marching band’s performance.

Inspired by Peter Read Miller’s book, On Sports Photography, (which really is a great sports photography book) I wanted to make an attempt at photographing the coin toss last Friday night. You’ve got to check out his coin toss photo in his book captured at the Dallas Cowboys’ Stadium!

As most of you know, lighting at these high school games is not typically very good nor very bright. However, this is not an action shot, so I thought I might get something decent even with the thin lighting.

The coin toss began with a few words from the referee and then the shaking of the hands of both teams. It is more like an amoeba conglomeration of people and I had to keep an eye on a videographer, too. This is the shot I ended up with during Friday night’s coin toss.

It is okay at best; certainly not stellar. The one good thing is the coin is in the with that dark blue sky and the referee is looking up at it. The main problem is the lack of any other faces being visible in the shot. The one almost face is obscured by the other official. I am thinking I should use a wider angle lens the next time and certainly get into a better position to capture the faces of the players. I am learning!

 

Two Sports Photographs Published

Stroudsburg v. Pocono Mountain East

 

Stroudsburg v. Pocono Mountain East

Rain fell in Swiftwater as the Stroudsburg Marching Band played the pre-game ceremony. Once kickoff ensued, the action was fast and furious. Stroudsburg struck first, but Pocono Mountain East answered back in record time. The game was tied 7-7 late into the second quarter, but Pocono Mountain East was driving and knocking on the door.

The Cardinals punched it into the end zone with less than 30 seconds remaining in the first half. Stroudsburg received the kickoff but could not drive the ball before the half ended. The second half was a different game for Stroudsburg.

Rushing and throwing seemed to come a bit more naturally, but an early muffed punt resulted in a turnover and a quick touchdown. Stroudsburg scored another follow-up touchdown to make it 28-14.

The Cardinals made it interesting by scoring a touchdown very late in the game but their on-sides kick was recovered by the Mounties who hung on to win 28-21. These two photographs of #21 Gerald Douglas crossing the goal line with the go-ahead touchdown are online at the Pocono Record. You can view the article here.

PV Wins a Thriller in the Rematch

It was a rematch from a week before–Pleasant Valley vs. Stroudsburg, and it was a thriller!

As sometimes happens, all the hard-fought battles came down to a few huge plays. A flea flicker, a field goal, and an interception were the big plays as PV fought to victory on Saturday night. It was a game for the ages!

The first big play of the game didn’t take long to develop. A flea flicker put the ball back in Leap’s hands and he threw a bomb to his receiver, Romeo. So began the rematch  and subsequent plays would not disappoint. PV scored three touchdowns in the 1st half, which was reminiscent of the previous week’s game when Stroudsburg did the same.

The battle was fought out in the trenches on the line of scrimmage. This is typical from two well-matched teams, but few fans ever notice the battles fought here. Most watch the quarterback, running backs, and receivers, as they focus on the ball. But without these battles being won, the big plays would never develop. Stroudsburg fought back twice to eventually tie the game at 21. PV’s kicker, Jordan Caffrey was called on to break the tie with a 28-yard field goal attempt. Here, in the photo below, all eyes were on that ball as it made its way toward the goal post. The kick was good and this would be the play that propelled PV to victory in this thrilling rematch!

Stroudsburg was not finished though. They put together a final drive with hopes of getting into field goal range before time ran out. But Romeo had other plans. Just as his big reception started off the scoring for the evening’s rematch, an interception late in the fourth quarter stopped the scoring and the final drive. It was then just a matter of running a few plays for PV as time ran out.

The scoreboard shows the vital statistics of a game, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. It does not, for example, show the preparation that goes into a game like this, nor does it show the hard work of each player on the line of scrimmage as they battle it out play after play. Still, the scoreboard does indicate the victor, and on this night PV would not be denied. The rematch was a thriller and lets PV continue playing deeper into the playoffs! You can view more photos of this game here.

Spotlight Awards 2012 at The Sherman Theater

Today I had the privilege of photographing the 2012 Spotlight Awards at The Sherman Theater, in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.

This 5th Annual Event honors the high school musicals in the Poconos. The Award Ceremony brings the high schools together to show appreciation for all the hard work that goes into each school’s production throughout the year.

Rich Berkowitz, the Executive Director/founder/ and President at The Sherman Theater, hosted the Spotlight Awards. Dignitaries, former award winners, and a host of other persons presented the awards after listing all the nominations. The high schools performed acts from their respective musicals in-between. It was a fun time of celebration and appreciation for all those involved in the musicals.

The festivities began at 2pm with a Red Carpet event that ushered in the students and directors. Some were decked out in evening gowns and tuxedos, while others sported the costumes of the musicals they performed. It was a local gala that nearly filled the house. The awards ceremony lasted three hours and was filled with recognitions, accolades, mutual support, great music, and wonderful performances.

To see more of the photographs from the 2012 Spotlight Awards, go to the photo gallery index page and click on the link on the left side.

Congratulations to all the award winners, and also to every single performer, actor, singer, musician, director, and co-director! You all did a great job this year!