Well, one thing is for sure: things are slowly starting to get back to normal. For the first time in just about a year, I photographed an actual sports competition.
Since March of 2020, I’ve only photographed a few practices and scrimmages. The last competition I was at was the 2020 Class 2A Boys State Basketball Championships. New Mexico was starting to shut down during the week of the championships.
Now, fast-forward a year.
During the third set of the Socorro volleyball game on Tuesday, a ball came right at me. At least I was able to dodge it as it bounced off the bleachers above my head.
Being a sports photographer, having balls or players come towards me during games is something that I have grown used to. Something that I’m not used to is not having any fans in the stands.
It was a weirdly quiet gym Tuesday night as the only sounds came from the volleyball players talking to each other. I kind of knew what to expect, though, with no fans as I’ve been watching hockey the last couple of months and it’s very strange not having the noise from spectators coming through the TV.
It was definitely strange not having parents yelling during the whole game. I spent the past couple years at the Las Vegas Optic where the games were extremely loud, especially if Robertson and West Las Vegas were playing each other.
When I arrived at Socorro High School on Tuesday, it felt as if I was going to a practice. I walked into the gym and besides the team, there were about five other people in there. Cuba was on the court warming up and I found Socorro AD Alex Johnson to make sure I knew where I was allowed to be.
For the safety of everyone, there are a lot of new rules for the media this year.
When I cover a volleyball game, I would normally sit at the scorekeeper’s table in case I missed a play or needed clarification on what just happened.
Things get missed once in a while when I’m trying to photograph and take notes at the same time. This year, the media isn’t allowed to sit at the table so I’m really hoping that I don’t miss anything.
There was a while when I didn’t think sports were going to happen this year. After having teams allowed to practice over the summer and then getting shut down and the season that was supposed to start in October pushed to February, I was starting to lose hope.
Then, as cases spiked due to the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, I really didn’t think any type of season was going to happen.
By some miracle, teams are playing now and I can take out all of my camera lenses that I haven’t used in close to a year.
In a way, it feels almost as if I’m starting over in sports photography. Since I started photographing sports in ninth grade, this past year is the longest I’ve gone without photographing a competition.
During the game on Tuesday, I was getting frustrated at times because I felt like I couldn’t get the shots that I wanted. I’ve never been that great at photographing volleyball and not photographing it since November 2019 certainly didn’t help.
Photos will get better as the season progresses and as I get back into the swing of things. Right now, I’m just thankful that I can be back on the sideline.