Loving what I do

Ragan Wiseman on the basketball court.
Ragan Wiseman on the basketball court.

Will drop off a CD Monday morning to The Floyd Press of photos from Friday night’s Conference 38 2A title game win by the Floyd County Lady Buffaloes.

Then it’s a stop at the county courthouse to cover the opening day of the new term of Circuit Court. On the first Monday of every fourth month, a new term starts at the court, complete with a new round of cases and a grand jury session with indictments.

Write a story on the day’s court session, email it to the Press office, pack up cameras and head to the opening game of the region basketball tournament at FCHS to photograph the Lady Buffs playing Gretna.

Drop off more photos Tuesday morning while heading for court again to cover a jury trial.

A win by Floyd Monday night will lead for more regional play and wins there will lead to state play that culminates in the championship games in Richmond next week.

Post-season play is expected for the Lady Buffaloes. The banners that hang in the high school gym testify to many trips to the final four in Richmond.

Sports, of course, is not over at FCHS for this year. Softball, baseball, soccer, track and tennis come next as March begins and Spring weather finally arrives.

This school season marks 10 years of covering Floyd County’s high school sports since returning to Floyd in 2004. Amy and I arrived with thoughts of a slower-than-the-past pace and relaxation in 2004. Didn’t work out that way.

Looking back over my computer archives from that year shows more than 150,000 images shot with my cameras, along with more than 100 hours of video, in the past decade.

I’ve covered a high school state championship football game in Salem, several state championship basketball games in Richmond, a state softball championship in Salem, multiple state wrestling tournaments, state track meets in Radford and cross country meets in Great Meadow in Northern Virginia.

In addition to celebrating 10 years of covering sports here in Southwestern Virginia, I also mark a half century as a journalist. I worked for The Floyd Press as a student at Floyd County High School from 1963-65 and joined the staff of The Roanoke Times in 1965 after graduation from high school.

I have photographed Presidents of the United States from Lyndon Johnson to Barack Obama, Virginia governors from Linwood Holton to Terry McAuliffe, NASCAR drivers from Curtis Turner to Jeff Gordon.

I’ve covered conflicts from Civil Rights struggles from Farmville, Virginia, to wars in the Middle East, tragedies that include the crash of the Space Shuttle Challenger to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the mass murders at Virginia Tech.

But a sense of personal achievement and satisfaction comes nowadays from the time spent on sidelines of football games, basketball courts and ball fields recording the actions of the students who are the shining stars at our schools and the future here and elsewhere.

Each week is filled with capturing such images on cameras and is also supplemented by filming the musicians who make up so much of the heritage and culture of Floyd County and Southwestern Virginia.

I have become a photographer and videographer who documents ways of life here in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is a role that I did not expect but is one that I cherish more than life itself.

At 67, I enter what some might call the twilight of my career but, to me, it is a resurgence of what I have done for most of my life and a chance to refocus on those who are the subjects of my photos and my film work.

In 2012, I crashed my motorcycle while returning from photographing a state tournament football game involving Floyd Counthy’s Buffaloes. One of the first cards to arrive at the hospital came from the team. I cherish that card.

When I work to prepare photos of student athletes for publication in newspapers and the web, I marvel at their athletic grace and I thank them privately for making what I do so much fun. When I film local music activities, I both enjoy the music and a chance display the musicians in what I hope is a way that compliments their talent.

My thanks to each and everyone one of you. What you do makes what I do means more that you can ever know.

Fiddler and band leader Clyde Willams:  A mainstay of the Friday Night Jamboree
Fiddler and band leader Clyde Willams: A mainstay of the Friday Night Jamboree

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