I was very fortunate to get to travel with the team on a charter flight to New Orleans for the women’s Final Four. No worries about too much gear to carry on, no long lines through security checks and no delays for connecting flights. At the South Bend airport I breezed through security and boarded the plane for a direct flight. When we landed, buses were ready and waiting, along with a police escort that led the way while clearing traffic during the drive to the hotel. Nice!
A week before the game, I contacted Gerald Herbert, a staff photographer with the Associated Press who is very familiar with the New Orleans Arena. He put me in touch with the NCAA person who granted me permission to install a remote camera on the catwalk. So the night before the game, when practices were over, I went up on the catwalk with Herbert and two other photographers to set up.
I only had one camera, so it was difficult to decide where to position it. After scouting various locations, I decided to put it over the basket. Now I wish I had mounted it above the Final Four logo on the middle of the court for a “scene shot.” My plan was to make that shot in the second game, but unfortunately that never happened.
As always my heart races a bit and palms get a little sweaty when I’m up that high. It’s a little trickier when you¹re working up top even though it¹s a fairly simple procedure. You have to work a little slower and always make sure safety cables are “connected” to each piece of equipment while mounting and locking your gear down.
The following day, six hours before the game, we all went back up top to turn on our cameras and pre-focus with someone standing below on the court. Once I had my lens focused, I put a piece of tape on it and tested the remote. It fired! Now I could relax and have fun shooting the game.
It was a tough loss against Connecticut and needless to say, the flight back was very quiet. When we landed, as always, I needed assistance getting my heavy case of gear (don’t tell the airlines) out of the overhead bin. Without asking, Markisha Wright kindly offered to lift it out for me. I warned her that “it was very heavy,” she gave me a look like, yeah right and proceeded to lift it out and set it down as if it weighed only a few pounds. Apparently it¹s not heavy for her!
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