I remember this day like it was yesterday.
My parents and I were sitting in the top row of the bleachers at a recreational center in one of the towns on the outskirts of Rochester, New York. On the basketball court, my brother, Tyler, was in the middle of a game against a local town.
I was in ninth-grade at the time and my lifelong dream was to become a teacher, like my parents, when I grew up. That all changed during that basketball game.
I was sitting next to my dad and we both had headphones in to drown out the screeching noise of sneakers on a hardwood basketball court. He always brought his Canon camera with him to the games.
This game was different though, as my dad finally allowed me to use the camera. He handed it to me and showed me what to do. Every time we went to one of Tyler’s many games (he played baseball and basketball yearround and occasionally football in the fall), the first thing my dad did when we sat down was hand me the camera.
We normally only photographed Tyler, but I began to take photos of the whole team in order to improve and to have a better understanding of photography. It wasn’t just the photography aspect that I started to love. It was the way that sports photography allowed me to be someone in the sports world, a world I never previously felt that welcome in.
Since I was young, words such as cross-eyed, surgery, depth perception and dominant eye were frequently used around me. It wasn’t until the age of about 10 when my eye doctor started to ask me about eye surgery that I really started to understand everything. There were things I would notice about my eyes that I thought were normal.
Apparently they definitely aren’t normal.
I remember a day when my parents, Tyler and I were driving around and we were discussing things we could see, using both eyes, that were surrounding us. I felt as if I was seeing only out of my left eye, but being left-handed and not really knowing about my disability yet, I thought that was normal and that my peripheral vision wasn’t as good as everyone else.
I have a disability known as strabismus or cross-eyed.
I have almost perfect vision in both eyes, but my brain can’t put the images from both eyes together. If both eyes are open, I only see out of the left. If I close my left eye, I see perfectly out of the right. My eye doctor told me how people who are born with strabismus lose some to all of their depth perception brain cells by the time they are six-months-old.
If you throw something at me, I will see it leave your hand and then after that I have no idea what happens. Everything goes black. It’s like blacking-out and not remembering anything, but without the fainting and other side effects.
Sometimes, I’ll be in a different spot with no idea how I got there. I’ve always had an interest in sports, but they were practically impossible to play. Between the ages of three and 18, I had tried dance, gymnastics, karate, baseball, softball, soccer, cheerleading and track and field. I loved cheer, but the stunting got too difficult with the depth perception issues.
Dance was (and still is) my favorite, but the same blackingout type thing happened whenever I had to do turns.
Track and field was great because it was just running around a track. Everything else felt nearly impossible until that one day in ninth-grade.
When I’m photographing sports, it’s like I have no eye problems. If something is thrown at me, I see it coming. I can put my camera up to my right eye and see out of both eyes at the same time. I’ll do that every now and again to workout my eye muscles, but it’s painful.
Through sports photography, it’s almost as if I don’t have this disability that takes up so much of my life. I’m constantly trying to overcome and adapt to things that everyone else would think is so simple, like walking down stairs for example.
Whenever I get down, my family is constantly reminding me how much I’ve been through and what all I’ve overcome and accomplished. It can get to be really hard seeing people do things that I wish I could do. It was easy, but hard, to realize that I wanted to go into sports photography.
I always thought I would be a first grade teacher, just like my mom. I’ve spent more time in her classroom than anywhere else. My dream is to be a team photographer for the Miami Dolphins.
I went to Ithaca College because it was close, but far enough away from home and they have a football team. During my four years there, I was a photographer, sports writer, Sports Editor and Photo Editor for The Ithacan, Ithaca College’s award-winning student newspaper. The Ithacan is named in the top five best college papers in the county every year and I’ve won best sports coverage and photography awards in the college division for the New York Press Association.
After I graduated, I was offered the Sports Editor job for the Las Vegas Optic. I was in charge of covering sports for five high schools and one university along with the Albuquerque Isotopes and New Mexico United.
During my two years there, I won five awards through the New Mexico Press Association.
Now that I will be covering sports for Socorro and Magdalena, I’m looking forward to being able to tell the stories of the local athletes and why they love their sport(s).