23 November 2008

"The Frozen Tundra..." Kingston, NY. November 2008.

HS Football State Semifinal game: Monroe-Woodbury vs. New Rochelle. Game time: 8PM. Temperature: 22ºF. Wind Chill Factor: 12ºF. w/ a slight wind. Visibility: Clear.

*(I could almost hear the booming voice of John Facenda of those long ago NFL Films highlight shows. I knew this night was going to be our Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers...)

The sportswriters at my paper and I talk a lot about "Bringing your "A-Game" to cover games like this one last night. Nothing could be closer to the truth. Neither of us would even dare bring it up, but we knew we were all "prepared..." I start mentally preparing and planning on how to go about covering a game with weather conditions like this a few days in advance. Keep a careful watch on the weather links, sites, radio forecasts and the like. Secretly walk around mumbling to myself a few days prior; "Did I buy enough hand warmers..? How many layers am I going to wear...? What about rain gear...? Long underwear or the polar, heavy-duty stuff under fleece-lined pants...? The new Gore-Tex, steel-toed work boots are a no brainer. Chewing gum. An extra pair of gloves. Backup pair of gloves - that makes three pair readily available. Favorite Gore-Tex ski hat. 6-charged camera batteries. A third spare camera body in the trunk. Is the turf field going to be wet...? This could prove to be a major factor on how I shoot a big game such as this, and the results I'm after, as I like to work from my knees, particularly at football. This was going to be the real deal. Again. Yea, some of us thrive on this kind of game, with deadline pressures looking you right in the face - as I was required to send a photo to the office at half time, sometime around 9PM for the paper's website, to accompany the writer's game updates. (I sent three) Obviously dealing with the challenges of the extreme weather conditions. Did I mention the game time temperature...?
Oh yea, our home team won. On a 35-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, by one of the best place-kickers ever in the state. The kid had hit 11 previous FG's this year and had a streak of something like 83 extra points in a row, before missing one earlier in the sectional playoffs. I remember hustling to get in place on the sideline for his kick, because I knew right at the time, if he made it - that might've been the game winner. That's a picture or series of pictures that you can't afford to miss - especially in a game as tight as this; with a return trip to Syracuse for the state title game on the line the following week. The kick was good. He gave it a "good look" and the "jubo" (jubilation) with the holder was sweet. They gave me one good hug frame which worked too.Didn't hurt that they also have one of the top-50 HS juniors at QB, according to the Sporting News, and he always makes for good pictures.
All I needed to worry about by the end of the game was making good reaction & "jubo". That's when the "gremlins" finally showed up. One camera battery died right at the last play of the game - so I actually missed a lot of the on-field craziness, but managed to quickly change batteries, and swap that body from the 300mm on a monopod, to the short 16mm - 35mm zoom, and run on the field for the ongong celebration. Took my gloves off for that battery and lens change, and found myself at midfield for 10 minutes or so, sans gloves. Big mistake. Hands were literally burning in the cold, trying to operate the two cameras.
Here's a slideshow of my take on the game. Just booked accommodations for another trip to the Carrier Dome up at Syracuse University this weekend for Monroe-Woodbury's fourth State Class AA Championship game in a row. Stay tuned. -cg.

*(Use the arrows at the bottom of the player or click the image to scroll forward through the slideshow. Enable full screen viewing by clicking the 4-way arrow icon above the credits button at lower right of the player. )

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