Since Dec. 22 of last year, almost six full months ago, I started shooting sporting events involving Floyd County High School after a seventh month layoff brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first two games were a Buffaloes basketball match against Narrows on Dec. 22 and a Lady Buffs game against the same school on Dec. 23. Over the next six months, I would photograph 54 sporting events, including basketball, volleyball, wrestling, football, softball, track and more.
My files show my cameras captured 62,445 images that consume 687.63 gigabytes of space on one of the hard drives of my Apple Mac computer system and that are also backup off offsite.
That’s less than half of the sports photos that I normally shoot in an average sports season at Floyd County High School. The total sports photos shot at the school for The Floyd Press occupies more than 40 terabytes of space of backups.
This season, however, was more strenuous than most, even those involving trips to state championship tournaments, because of the restrictions and threats of a pandemic. It was also more exhausting because I’m not as young as I was 16 years ago and certainly not as young s when I starting shooting photos for media use more than six decades ago.
I came home from the final game of this season that I covered — the Region 2C semi-final softball match at Glenvar High School in Roanoke County between the Highlanders and the Floyd County Lady Buffaloes — drenched in sweat with dizziness because of heat stroke.
Took a couple of gallons of electrolytes and several cool showers to bring me around, but symptoms lingered on Friday and Saturday. A bike ride on Sunday with friend Nick Piazza wiped me out again by the time we got home from more than 200 miles of riding in the heat, but we saw a lot of good countryside and had a good time.
No sports this week. My two assignments — Circuit Court Tuesday morning and the Board o Supervisor involve little more than sitting on my ass while taking notes in air-conditioned rooms, so heat or exhaustion should not be a problem.
I hope to start concentrating on the resumption of music and other recreational activities in the area, but much of summer will be spent resting up and getting ready for the start of sports in the fall and, hopefully, continuing normally through a regular school year.
But I must also consider how much longer I can keep up what I once considered a normal pace of life. I sold my first news photo to a newspaper when I was age 11, began working full-time for The Floyd Press at 15, became the youngest full time reporter ever for The Roanoke Times at 17 and spent more than 50 years chasing news stories around the world.
Slowing down has never been a goal, taking it easy is never considered. I work because I love what I do.
Nowadays, I walk with an uneven gait because of injuries that attempt to keep my bones together with plates, braces, rods and screws. My eyesight dims sometime because it is no longer aligned with the left one. The plastic socket built by a plastic surgeon to replace the one destroyed is just a few micrometers out of alignment, and my brain sometimes struggles to keep the eyes aligned.
Some injuries come from a motorcycle accident in 2012, the one involving a black steer on dark U.S. 221 at night. Other injuries came in a motorcycle crash more than 40 years ago and other injuries in things I should not have been doing in places where I did not belong.
Like me, my cameras are worn out and some of them will go to Canon Professional Services this summer for evaluation, repair if possible, and be ready for the start of the fun and games that we hope keep coming our way.
My lot in life is one of my own making. My wife loves and supports my decisions and lives with my shortcomings. We’ve spent more than 40 years together and hope to have more ones ahead.
Pain, a Master Chief, once told me, “is only the beginning.” Perhaps, but surviving the pain can bring even more pleasures down the line.