This month begins my 18th year of photographing the athletics of Floyd County schools for media use and for the athletes and their parents. Year 18 starts Tuesday afternoon at the primary gymnasium, now called the Alan Cantrell Court with the LadyBuffaloes facing off against the Patrick County volunteer squads.
Next week, Patrick County’s football team comes to Floyd for the first game on the Coach Beale field. In 2004, then-editor Wanda Combs asked me to shoot a football game for The Floyd Press and the games continued through the following years.
I didn’t expect to resume newspaper coverage when we moved to Floyd that year but Wanda asked and then added coverage of the Board of Supervisors and Circuit Court — requests that a career newspaperman could not resist.
I had remained on the call sheet of wire services and newspapers like The Washington Post and New York Times but didn’t expect to get many assignments down here what I felt would be a quiet return to the Blue Ridge Mountain area where I spent my high school years. I was wrong.
Harsh weather, including tornadoes and hurricanes, brought requests for photos and video. An early morning phone call on April 16, 2007, from a Washington assignment editor, had me grabbing my cameras and heading to Virginia Tech to cover the massacre that left 32 dead and many others injured in a killing spree by Seung-Hui Cho, a student at the college who later died by suicide. I thought I had left such things behind in Washington, DC, our home for 23 years.
Other assignments included coverage of political candidates for CNN and MSNBC and video work for TV stations. Bur photographing the athletic prowess of high school students became my favorite part of my return to the county. It meant to travel to cover state tournaments, playoffs, and the incredible achievements of coaches like legends like Cantrell on the basketball courts and Winfred Beale on football. The volleyball success by the Lady Buffs and coach Carrie Chaffin plus state championships in softball, golf, and track.
This year, multiple photos of each game I cover will be posted on the internet, along with the ability of athletes and parents to download the ones they want without charge or limits. It is a way to thank the young athletes for 18 years of the joy of covering their actions on the fields, courts, and tracks.
Details to follow. See you at the volleyball games tonight.