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