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|| News Item: Posted 2011-01-05

Ryan M.L. Young's Favorite Image of 2010
“This was easily one of the scariest moments of my life…”

By RYAN M.L. YOUNG, Ohio University

Editor's Note: For this issue of the Sports Shooter Newsletter I asked students that are members of or had attended one of the Academy workshops to submit their favorite photo of 2010 and write a short piece about it. This image could be from a favorite assignment, show something they had learned or is something of a personal nature. The one requirement was, the image had to have special significance to them.

Photo by Ryan M.L. Young

Photo by Ryan M.L. Young

Members of the Athens High School girls soccer team console each other while others try to get ahold of loved ones after a late summer tornado ripped through the area, especially devastating Rutter Field, where the girls were scheduled to play that aftern
I freelance for one of the Athens Messenger and cover the majority of their sports work during the school year. September 16, 2010, my editor, Kevin Wiseman, asked me to shoot a soccer double header at Athens High School. I told him that I would be there without thinking much about it.

When I arrived at the field, the start of the first game had been delayed because someone saw lightning in the distance. This surprised me because I didn’t expect any inclement weather that night. The teams were moved into their locker rooms and I waited outside with a scattering of people for the storm to pass and play to resume.

As we were waiting, talk began to circulate that the storm’s cell was going to be strong. While some people received texts regarding the storm, others checked their phones for weather updates. Pretty soon ominous clouds began to hover on the horizon and within a few minutes a driving rain had begun to fall and tornado sirens started to wail in the distance. With nowhere closer to take shelter the few remaining people who had hung around the field and I quickly huddled in the concession stand behind the home bleachers of the field.

Within less than a minute of taking refuge in the concession stand the lights began to flicker and the walls started to shake. A few seconds later, the roof ripped off and I immediately hit the ground in hopes of protecting myself. This was easily one of the scariest moments of my life and yet somehow in the midst of it I felt as calm as if I was watching the whole scene unfold in a movie. This bizarre serenity became advantageous once we were able to determine that miraculously, no one was seriously hurt. It was then that I picked up my rain soaked camera and started to document what was happening.

After climbing out of the debris, we made our way to the locker rooms where the soccer teams and a few others took shelter. The soccer field that was once a place of play, now looked like a war zone in ruins. The field goal posts were no longer standing, the visiting side bleachers were a tangled heap of metal, and the press box where my editor had been just minutes before joining us in the concession stand was completely destroyed.

Once inside the locker room, we found that everyone was just as frightened and disturbed. Due to the storm, no one could contact loved ones with their phones and lots of people in the locker room did not know the status of their friends and family. Luckily, no one was killed or severely injured in the freak, late summer storm. My images from the day ended up running as the A1 centerpiece in the next day’s Columbus Dispatch, and more importantly, I was able to walk away from the disaster perfectly fine, with that rosy “I’m lucky to be alive” disposition that I will hold in the back of my mind for the rest of my life.

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