Capturing a Father’s Pride

A Father Hugs His Son
Mark Hlavaty hugs his son Michael after the Otis-Bison Cougars defeated the Cheylin Cougars 51-6 in the Eight-Man Division II Regional game on November 10, 2010 at Cheylin High School in Bird City, Kansas (Photo Credit Joey Bahr, joeybahr.com)

When you shoot sports, the action is front and center. Sports photographers call the pinnacle moment of a play “peak action.” Yet, one of the most powerful things you can capture is emotion.

The emotion of winning or losing a game. The emotion of cheering on a teammate or showing the frustration from a mistake.

Then there is the emotion from the end of a competition.

After the final horn or whistle sounds and the two sides of the athletic event shook hands, parents, classmates, friends and other fans will stream onto the field of play. Many times a player will be greeted with handshakes and pats on the back (or pads if it’s football).

This time presents ample opportunities to capture emotional greetings. Especially if the game held importance to one or both sides.

On November 6, 2010, the Otis-Bison Cougars made the long trip to Bird City for an Eight-Man Division II Regional Match against the Cheylin Cougars. The afternoon football game saw Otis-Bison continue on their winning ways with a 51 to 6 victory. The victory was their tenth straight game that ended due to the 45-point mercy rule.

It also meant the Cougars would play in the Sub-State game the next week for the first time since 1992.

To say it was a significant win for the team would be an understatement.

After the final whistle, as happened in all the previous weeks, the fans, friends, and family greeted the players on the field. I switched lenses on my camera to my wide-angle 18-55mm kit lens from my standard 70-200m. This allowed me to get closer to people and capture some of the emotion of the moment.

One I gladly captured occurred between Otis-Bison’s star running back/linebacker Michael Hlavaty and his father Mark.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Mark closing in on his son. It was not hard to see how proud he was of his boy and the performance he just gave on the field. He closed the distance and embraced his son, pads and all, tightly.

A Father Hugs His Son
Mark Hlavaty hugs his son Michael after the Otis-Bison Cougars defeated the Cheylin Cougars 51-6 in the Eight-Man Division II Regional game on November 10, 2010 at Cheylin High School in Bird City, Kansas (Photo Credit Joey Bahr, joeybahr.com)

I snapped away as I moved from one side to the other. Of the few frames I quickly looked at on the back of my camera, I knew I captured a special moment between a father and son.

Otis-Bison would go on and win the Sub-State game but lost in the State Championship game. The 2010 team provided the Cougars their second banner, both for Eight Man Runner Ups.

I decided to take this photo and make something special out of it by printing it large and framing it and gave it to Mark for Christmas. I know this would be something he would enjoy having as a reminder of that great day and moment.

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