Welcome to my blog! From time to time, I'll be posting updates, previews from games and sessions or whatever I feel like talking about on here! :-)
Greetings and salutations all, I hope this finds everyone well. It's been a very hot summer down in Southeast Texas and busier than usual for me, so I hadn't been able to keep up with the blog until this week. There hasn't been much to share since the last week of May, when I made my annual pilgrimage out to Sugar Land, TX for the Southland Conference Baseball Championship tournament at Constellation Field. This was the third straight year and fourth in the last five that I covered the tournament as the Southland's photographer, and it was a job that I'd been looking forward to once again. And I was a tad smarter this time around, securing a second shooter for some of the action on Thursday and Friday. Unlike the 2016 tournament, this year's action was not marred at all by the weather, which was great. The only issue with the weather was the heat and the crappy air, which contributed to my allergies flaring up like crazy. It sapped my strength and hindered me for the first two days, but thanks to some Claritin-D, Benadryl and a little bit of help from one of my associates, covering the action on Friday and Saturday was much better.
Anyways, the on-field action was as intense as ever with conference and personal storylines abound, such as the return of the Houston Baptist Huskies to the Southland tournament (two years after winning the title) or the top two seeds (McNeese State and Southeastern Louisiana) getting beaten before Friday's semifinal games. Strangely enough, the one team that flew under the radar from the outset was the Sam Houston Bearkats, the defending Southland Champions. Despite being the third seeded team, they were ultra confident as they easily won their first three games to advance to the championship final. In the title game, the Bearkats faced off against the Central Arkansas Bears, who were Southland champions themselves in 2013. Riding an early flurry of runs, Sam Houston outgunned the Bears to win the final and repeat as Southland tournament champions, advancing to the NCAA tournament (eventually making the Super Regional round).
Overall, despite my allergies not cooperating early on, I think I had the best tournament in my four times shooting the Southland Championships. The adulation and such from the various SIDs and the Southland media officials was always good, but I felt internally accomplished as well. It’s always satisfying to have a plan of attack, executing it and seeing the results come to fruition.
Anyways, that’s all I’ve got for this entry. Many special thanks to the Southland communications staff and Maria Lysaker for their tireless assistance. Thanks for reading and as always, fare the well!
All images copyright 2017 Erik Williams/Southland Conference Media Relations
Greetings and salutations, I hope this finds everyone well. I am sorry I haven’t had any blog entries to start 2017, but things have been rather crazy for me the last four months. And that craziness is thanks to a lot of basketball I had to cover in March, and a certain playoff game in April, but I’ll get to that later.
Basketball season is always an exciting time for me, because it’s my favorite sport to shoot, but this year I had a bit more action to cover from March onwards. In March, both Rice University basketball teams made it into postseason play, resulting in six extra games that I covered at Tudor Fieldhouse in the space of twelve days. While it got personally draining towards the end of that stretch, it did result in some pretty cool images from the action. Anyways, the men’s team had a good run in the CBI tournament, defeating San Francisco before falling to Utah Valley State. Meanwhile, the women’s team competed in the WBI tournament and ended up winning the title with victories over Lamar, UT-Rio Grande Valley, Idaho and UNC-Greensboro. I am confident that the two tournament runs will be the start of great things over on South Main for the Owls.
After the completion of Rice’s tournament play, I was fully expecting to be done with basketball until November. Then the NBA playoffs started, and I was assigned to cover Game 2 of the series between the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder. I was hovering between excited and being petrified, not from shooting an NBA game, but shooting an NBA playoff game featuring both James Harden and Russell Westbrook, two of the three leading candidates for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award. Anyways, the game was rather entertaining as the Rockets won the game, despite trailing by as many as 14 points. While Westbrook had the bigger night (51 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds), Harden (35 points) came away victorious as the Rockets won 115-111 to take a 2-0 series lead. Houston eventually won the highly-anticipated series, 4-1 to advance to the Western Conference Semifinals.
Anyways, that’s what I’ve been up to for the first four months of the year, covering all the burning hardwood across town. (And may not be done yet, who knows.) Thank you for viewing and for your time, have a wonderful day and, until next time, fare thee well.
All images copyright 2017 Erik Williams/Rice Sports Information/USA Today Sports Images
Greetings and salutations, I hope this finds you all well. Things have been rather calm for me as of now. I say “as of now” because August-November was a very stressful period for me with the bulk of football, volleyball and soccer seasons all going on at once. But now that football is over, at least for me, it’s time for basketball season. And that’s where I do shine in terms of sports photography, as I am a basketball lifer, having grown up around the game in the 80s.
Shooting basketball has always been enjoyable for me, but not only am I shooting college basketball this winter, I’m also shooting professional basketball. The NBA, the National Basketball Association, more specifically, the Houston Rockets. Shooting the Rockets was always an outside goal of mine, having done it twice in 2007, but I didn’t think it would be possible due to many factors. But this year, thanks to my association with USA Today Sports, the opportunity arose to start shooting a select number of Rockets games this season. Needless to say, I was elated to be offered the chance to shoot NBA games, since that had been a goal of mine, really, the final goal of mine in a while. But I was nervous about it as well, hoping to do a good job.
My first game was on November 12 against the San Antonio Spurs. Yea, my first Rockets’ game in nine years was a home matchup against the Spurs, one of the best teams in the league. It turned out to be a pretty entertaining game as San Antonio ended up winning, 106-100. In terms of the photos, I think I could have done better in terms of capturing the action. But for not having shot an NBA game in nearly a decade, I think I did a serviceable effort.
Five days later, I was back at the Toyota Center as the Rockets hosted the Portland Trailblazers. Regarding the game, it was a bit more entertaining as the Rockets used a spurt in the third quarter to pull away from Portland, 126-109. Regarding the pics, I was a lot more comfortable as I knew what to expect this time around, thus the photos were stronger. Regardless, I felt good about the two games I’ve covered this far, and am optimistic regarding future Rockets games this season.
Shooting the Rockets again has been a real experience, and considering it was the one sports team that I didn’t regularly cover until now, I feel a real sense of accomplishment. It’s an achievement that is a good way to cap off the last 27 months in my professional life. But now that December is here, I’m thankful for some quiet time. Granted, there’s still basketball on tap, but not much else, and I’m glad things can slow down for a little while. Now that things have slowed down, I’ve taken stock on a lot of things, and I know that I wouldn’t be where I am and done what I’ve done without a strong edict towards hard work and exerting control. And that’s the key to making it through life. Believing in God, having a positive attitude and holding joy in your heart is all fine and dandy, but at the end of the day, all that can’t supersede hard work. If you have a goal, attain it via hard work because no one is going to just give it to you. That may be pretty hard and unyielding, but considering where I’ve been in my life and the lows I’ve crashed to, it’s necessary, and it makes the successes I now enjoy all the sweeter.
With that said, thank you for reading another colorful blog entry. I wish to thank you all for your support this year and in years’ prior. And a VERY special thank you to my dearest friends, Michelle Miller, Jennifer Sacco, Helen Laird, Kerri Rapp, Dr. Susanna Mittermaier, Kyla Holas and Chantel Baptiste. I wouldn’t have survived the last two years without you in particular. Thank you all and fare thee well.
All images copyright 2016 Erik Williams/USA Today Sports Images
Greetings and salutations all, I hope this finds everyone well thus far this week. I've been all right since the end of July, when my regular work started back up again. And things have been challenging yet great. A recent highlight was on Saturday, Sept. 3 when I covered the Advocare Kickoff Classic at NRG Stadium between the University of Houston and the Oklahoma Sooners. It was one of the more exhilarating college football games I've ever covered, especially in terms of atmosphere as both teams battled in front of a sellout crowd of over 71,000 fans. The highly anticipated matchup more than lived up to the hype as #15-ranked Houston took advantage of two third quarter turnovers to pull away from #3-ranked Oklahoma, 33-23. It was a great game in all respects, and I took full advantage, getting many viable images from the game.
Strangely enough, it wasn't until I got home and unpacked that I realized the date, September 3rd. It was on this date five years earlier that I covered the NCAA football game between Houston and UCLA. And the similarities between the two days were pretty eerie: Houston was playing at home in front of a raucous crowd against a higher-ranked opponent and traditional powerhouse, and the Cougars would emerge victorious in both games. (UH defeated the UCLA Bruins, 38-34.) Pretty strange, eh? But there was also personal significance to that date as well.
Sept. 3, 2011 was the first NCAA football game I covered after a nearly two-year exile from shooting professional and college athletics. (Thanks to unfortunate circumstances and my own professional naievete, I didn't shoot any major professional or college athletics between Nov. 2009-Mar. 2011, and certainly no upper-level football during that time.) While I was "out of it", I lost faith that I could make it back to that place, professionally, and was unsure at to what to do with my business and even my life. But I kept at it and took advantage of various opportunities, eventually making it back on the sidelines for Houston Cougar football in 2011.
While I've hit other heights since then and continue to strive to bigger and better things, it was amazing to look back on where I was five years ago and see how far I've come, how far I've grown and what I've survived. Granted I’m still not where I ultimately hope to be, but goddamnit I’m glad I’m not where I once was. I guess if there's a point of this diatribe, it's that never stop working and fighting to achieve your dreams, and don't let anyone tell you they're worthless or not meritorious of your full devotion.
(taken during the UH-UCLA game on Sept. 3, 2011)
(taken during the UH-Oklahoma game on Sept. 3, 2016)
Well, with another diatribe concluded, I hope everyone has a good week and rest of September. Thanks for your time, and until next time, fare thee well.
All images copyright 2011-16 Erik Williams
Greetings and salutations, I hope this finds everyone well. I duely apologize for no entries whatsoever since October of last year, but life kept getting in the way and with 1-2 exceptions, there wasn’t anything ultra special to write about, professionally. Well there was the AFC Wild Card Playoff game in January between the Houston Texans and the Kansas City Chiefs, but we won’t mention that game for obvious reasons. And I won’t mention the plethora of storms that have ravaged Houston the last eight weeks. Frankly, that horror speaks for itself as well and many thoughts and prayers to all those affected.
Anyways, this year has been a mélange of experiences and emotions thus far, and while I’ve been working less in comparison to this time last year, I’ve been able to put more of myself into my assignments. Two weeks ago, I reprised my coverage of the Southland Conference Baseball Championships at Constellation Field in Sugar Land. Once again, it was a daunting task shooting nearly a dozen baseball games in four days, but it was even more daunting this year thanks to a massive rainstorm that disrupted play on May 27, forcing the tournament to be extended a day.
While it was an unexpected inconvenience, playing the championship game on Sunday proved to be a memorable affair as Sam Houston State and Southeastern Louisiana squared off in “The Dream Final”. I was hoping for a great matchup between the tournament’s top two seeds, and the game did NOT disappoint. After giving up a grand slam early, the Sam Houston Bearkats fought their way back into the game, scratching out seven unanswered runs enroute to a 7-4 victory. The win clinched the Bearkats the Southland tournament title (pairing it with the regular-season title) and a berth in the ongoing NCAA baseball tournament. (Also, Southeastern qualified for the NCAAs as well, securing at at-large bid.) Anyways, I don’t know what it was about the championship game, but I got into a real zone shooting and I captured some pretty good shots all along the way. Maybe it was an adrenaline rush or the oppressive heat and humidity, but I was pleasantly surprised by the images from the showdown.
Well, not much else to say. With summer here, things will be pretty quiet until August when things resume in earnest again. Always keep working hard to achieve your dreams, damn all who get in your way or don’t support you. Thank you for your attention and until next time, Fare Thee Well.
P.S. Many thanks to Diana Porter, Hardy Meredith, Angel “Rick” Leal and the communications staff of the Southland Conference for either helping me or putting up with me between May 24 and 29. It was all VERY much appreciated!
All images copyright 2016 Erik Williams/Southland Conference Sports Information