I was privileged to photograph most of Lodi’s and Tokay’s varsity home games at Zupo Field this season … along with all of Tokay’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division I South Championship games at UOP. Not having been in a high school dugout for 50 years, it was a real treat to see the action up-close and personal. So what did I see?
First, they were typical 17 and 18 year old boys with adolescent skin conditions and a questionable habit of spitting sunflower seeds. Body types ranged from 6 foot ectomorphs to 240 pound endomorphs with scars left over from football season. Personalities were as varied as the hair cuts. The class clowns shook off pre-game jitters with comic behaviors while the intensely quiet, cerebral ones appeared to have everything under control.
From a distance, though, everything changed. On the field, they looked and performed like the Pro’s. An explosive hit to short stop, a toss to second followed by a throw to first … half the time I hardly knew where to point the camera. It was exciting and the supportive crowds ate it up.
All the while, dressed like the players but with 5 o’clock shadows and beards, attentive coaches headed by Hobie Schultz for the Flames and Pat Macfarlane for the Tigers were busy taking notes and analyzing every move. Each projected different leadership styles while sharing a common blend of authority, expectation and compassion. Players and coaches cooperated as one with the goal of performing their very best. Winning was good too, and both teams ended their seasons with outstanding results.
Personal note: Competitive sports tend to attract people who ignore the Bible’s advice: “Let us not become egotistical, stirring up competition with one another, envying one another”. While learning to succeed and fail productively is an essential part of growing up, too often bad behaviors prevail among players and spectators. To the contrary, it was a pleasure to see the results of controls placed upon high school athletes in our District by administrators, coaches and officials. The boys behaved as men toward each other, their mentors and rival teams. The program is rife with polite gestures and built-in accommodations for demonstrations of respect. Inappropriate language and acts of disappointment are regulated, discouraged and strictly enforced when necessary. It was a pleasurable experience to attend the games and I can highly recommended them as a family, Spring time activity.
Highlight photographs of the 2014 baseball season are available at KeithColganPhotography.com