Winter sports photos told stories

VUHS JUNIOR ISAAC Preston was one of three local wrestlers who won Vermont titles — he pinned all his foes, as did senior teammate Jamison Couture, while Otter Valley senior Chase Cram picked up a couple decisions in his championship run. This shot of Preston captured the elemental nature of the sport. Technique matters, but so does imposing your will on your foe.  Independent photo/Steve James

ADDISON COUNTY — Words are my job. I like to say I’m off to the word factory when I head to work. And, yes, my long-suffering better half is probably tired of hearing that.

But while I joke about it, I do believe it to be true that a well-crafted story can go a long way to bringing the reader to the scene and into the action. Pictures can be painted with words. Emotions can be captured. Drama can be described.

That said, there is nothing like a visual image to make some messages hit home.

Those of us of a certain age, for example, will never forget the opening of ABC’s Wide World of Sports and the “Agony of Defeat” — the unfortunate ski jumper who loses his balance at the bottom of the jump, falls, and slides sideways off the end of the ramp. (Kudos to those who remember the less compelling image of the “Thrill of Victory” — a race driver shaking a bottle of bubbly on the winner’s podium.)

Let’s put it this way: To finish our shout-out to that long-gone TV show, photos capture “The Human Drama of Athletic Competition” and sometimes tell a story more effectively than can words.

Or in other cases words and images work in tandem to complete the storytelling package.

Once again, this past winter season I collected a number of the photos that I felt best told stories. Most came from Independent photographer Steve James, but clutch pinch-hitter Mark Bouvier also came through. 

Some photos just showed the suspense of a moment: Was that shot blocked or not? Others show athletes’ competitive spirit. Others show the environment in which they competed, or the technique or focus that led to success.

All of Steve’s and Mark’s images added irreplaceable elements to our sports coverage, as did many submissions for which we were grateful. These dozen offered more than most.

THIS WAS A common sight at MUHS girls’ hoop games this season, sophomore guard Solstice Binder blazing down the court with the ball and leaving defenders in her wake, in this case all five Missisquoi players watching helplessly.  Independent photo/Steve James


THIS WAS THE prettiest goal of the winter. Senior Gus Hodde worked a slick give-and-go with teammate Landon Kean in the left side of the Burr & Burton zone, and Hodde made no mistake picking the top right corner from a sharp angle, nicely famed by Steve shooting from the platform at the east end of the stands.    Independent photo/Steve James


THE TIGER NORDIC team, especially the three-time champion girls led by Beth McIntosh, Ava Schneider and Mary Harrington made the headlines this winter. But a couple Eagle independents did well, too, June Yates-Rusch, seen here, and Lorenzo Atocha. Steve’s photo captured the calm and technique that Nordic skiers require as well as endurance, and also the unseasonable warmth competitors dealt with in the two-day championship meet. Also, great shades. Independent photo/Steve James


I HONESTLY DON’T remember how this duel between two of the county’s best power forwards turned out. Did Tiger sophomore Cooke Riney, right, manage to score over the determined defense of Commodore senior Oakley Francis? But that’s the beauty of this Mark Bouvier image: It captures the suspenseful moment in which two athletes are giving it their competitive best and the outcome remains in doubt.
Photo by Mark Bouvier


EAGLE JUNIOR GUARD Hazel Guillmette attacks the paint against Colchester standout Nicole Norton. Actually, any photo of Guillmette during a game would probably show her attacking, as one might be able to guess from the fierce expression that Mark Bouvier captured.
Photo by Mark Bouvier


TIGER JUNIOR CAMDEN Whitlock gets some serious air as he attacks the basket against Mount Abraham and gets by defender Chase Atkins, but also meets a serious obstacle in six-five Eagle defender Ian Funke. I don’t believe Camden’s bid was successful, but it was gallant, and Steve well captured everyone’s athleticism with this shot. Independent photo/Steve James


SHOOTING TAKES FOCUS, and that’s what Eagle junior post player and leading scorer Mackenzie Griner shows her as she keeps her eyes on the basket despite being whacked on the arm by Montpelier’s No. 15. Note in the background the Solon coach is holding her arms straight up as she tries in vain to tell her players not to foul Griner. Independent photo/Steve James


COMMODORE SOPHOMORE FORWARD Ryker Mosehauer delivers a not-in-my-neighborhood message to Tiger junior guard Tassilo Luksch in this well-timed Steve James shot — one for the defense. Independent photo/Steve James

VUHS SOPHOMORE LEADING scorer Ashtin Stearns is a deadly three-point shooter, but can also take the ball to the basket, as she shows here against Winooski in the Commodores’ big first-round playoff victory. Bonus: Her talented classmate Ava Francis is in the background; they made a strong one-two punch.
Independent photo/Steve James


ONCE A YEAR the Independent is allowed an obvious bird of prey metaphor when referring to a Mount Abe player, if appropriate. And it is here: Eagle senior Ian Funke soars in for two points in transition, and earthbound Tigers can only watch.  Independent photo/Steve James


ONE OF THE tougher semifinal matches I watched at the state wrestling meet was at 120 pounds between Eagle Kaidin White and Colchester’s Jaden Coppins. Both had their chances to pin, but White won by pin late in the third period. I overheard an onlooker say they had split matches during the winter. They shared a brief respectful hug after the match, a nice moment of sportsmanship. White finished second in the class in Vermont, and Coppins took fourth. Notably, Coppins went on to win the girls’ New England championship in her weight class. 
Independent photo/Steve James

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