Interlaced with these images is a column I wrote for class this week. You'll see what it's all about :-) Hope all is well where you are. I'm learning just another lesson on how fulfilling hard work is. And how rewarding naps become. Enjoy!
5 o’clock is my new most favorite time of day. Most of the rest of my city and state are joyous for the opportunity to escape the daily grind. The traditional work force is ready to roll their mini-vans to the day care and pick up their snotty noses, others are excited to open the door and take their wet nosed best friends out for an evening stroll.
On the counter, I am ready to bundle up in all the layers my closet has to offer and venture off to a baseball field full of red noses and ashy calves on Bowling Green’s West side of town.
24 young men, none taller than my arm pits, and all full of more dreams than a collegiate graduation, await the minute they can yell “How YOU doin’ Miss Liz?” This comment offered up by any other male, I would take offense to, but these Bears, a youth football team, have earned the right to heckle me and comment on my kinky hair or my lack of a backside.
I yell back my usual, How was school today boys? and they giggle amongst themselves. Sometimes one offers up another’s poor grade on a test or someone’s new girlfriend. Often they just grin.
All but four of the players are African American. All but five have no fathers in their lives. Three of the five coaches have no need to come, no son that plays, no children at all, but they, too, are here each week.
As I step foot on to the parched green grass and clay diamond that is their makeshift football practice field, I think about why I am here for over two hours. Three times a week I watch. An additional four on gamedays I will see through the viewfinder of my camera.
We all come for potential. Head Coach Danny Corothers has been coming for 15 years, all in an effort to reform his community. “Most of these boys live in the projects of Bowling Green. I did too. But I want these boys to know they can be good men and sports is how we can get to them”
He brings school supplies to the boys, introduces them to leaders in their community and checks their grades each week. None of this he has to do; all of it he wants to do.
Corothers fills their heads with phrases: Do what you gotta do, so you can do what you wanna do. Originally I frequented practice in search of a coach story to photograph, I now come because it fills my soul to attend.
They want my support, they want my name on their t-shirt and they want my help with their homework. All of this, along with my images I am glad to offer up in exchange for growth. Growth in this community, growth in my own life and growth in theirs.