Picture Story: One Day Story/5 POVs

Fielding a Community

Five nights a week, from mid-August to mid-October, the Rainbow Softball Center at Cosmopolitan Park in Columbia, Mo., fills with recreational adult softball teams. Most league divisions contain more than eight teams. Thursday night Men’s Church League softball is one of the few exceptions to this rule, with just five teams rotating through the designated field each night. Playing in the Church League “has advantages over other leagues,” says Nathan Thomas*, manager of the St. Andrews team, specifically because of “the common thread that we share a love for sports and Jesus Christ” and “the chance to enjoy fellowship with your brothers…this is a good way for different churches to come together and not get so immersed on each other’s beliefs [and] practices.” For the teams of the league, fellowship comes both on and off the field.

20090917_OneDay_Ashe_0039_edit_webWhile most teams in the league sport jerseys with their respective church names on them (or simply shirts matching the team’s color), the Disciples opt for a more broad design. The self-described “hodgepodge” team no longer has a specific church affiliation; several players have switched congregations since the team’s original inception. Nevertheless, the men continue to play for the Disciples. “They’re just a great group of guys,” says manager Chris Peters.

20090917_OneDay_Ashe_0017_edit_webShortstop and third base coach Corey Harden claps for his teammate at bat as other Disciples watch gameplay from their dugout. After a slow start, the team scored fifteen runs en route to a win over Fairview Church of Christ.

20090917_OneDay_Ashe_0021_edit_toned_twoScott Riley, second baseman for the Disciples, receives a dugout visit from wife Ginger and 10-month-old son Aiden. Riley, like many other players, also competes in the Church League during the summer months.

20090917_OneDay_Ashe_0087_edit_webKayanna Smith, right, slips away from the crowd of Rocky Fork Fellowship players and fans after the team’s loss to Trinity Lutheran. Smith, accompanied by her mother Amber, comes to “watch” her father Kurt play for Rocky Fork every week. Rocky Fork, despite the apparent setback of being located half an hour away, in Hallsville, enjoys a large fan contingent for each of its games.

20090917_OneDay_Ashe_0097_edit_webDanny Jung, temporarily playing for Fairview Church of Christ, pitches to Nathan Thomas, right, of St. Andrews as umpire Charlie Schuster and Fairview catcher Rob Kallenbach look on. Jung normally plays for Trinity Lutheran; due to a smaller-than-normal roster on the Fairview team, he pitched in not only his own game, but also Fairview’s two matchups. Says Thomas of the league, “It’s not cutthroat competition.”

20090917_OneDay_Ashe_0082_edit_webMembers of Rocky Fork Fellowship and Trinity Lutheran Church gather in a prayer circle following the teams’ September 17 matchup. “A lot of the same churches play every year,” says Peters, “and you get to know the guys that you’re playing with.”

*all quotations taken from e-mail correspondence.

EPJ: Final Project part one

For my Final Project, I plan to create a multimedia piece revolving around the teams of the Mens Church League division of the Columbia Rec Sports softball group. The five teams play on Thursday nights in the fall, although most also play for the Columbia summer softball leagues. Four of the teams are directly affiliated with a particular church, while one is composed of men who once attended the same church (several years ago), but have since switched congregations. They remain, however, on the same softball team. I have already taken photos for the story as part of my Picture Story class, and will be returning this week to gather audio and video, and make some more stills.

The story strikes me as one that will work well with multimedia because softball, like most sports, is active enough to necessitate both stills and video (which can be shot from a variety of angles), and offers the opportunity for interviews and for collecting good ambient sound while a game is being played. In addition to the noises of the players and umpires as they go through the procedures of play, the crowd watching the game also provides fodder for the ambient.

I am focusing on this story largely because I feel that the intersection of sports and faith remains a very relevant issue, and one that can be easily explored at a local level. There is a definite air of tradition about the softball leagues in Columbia–the St. Andrews team, for example, has been around for some thirty years–and I would like to tell the story of these five groups while keeping in mind the more broad features.

EPJ: Website critique

Imagen 2


On the websites of many newspapers, photographs are treated as supplementary visual information to the meat of the article they accompany. While photography is allowed more of a stay in the spotlight due to the increased space allowed by online publications, there appears to be a tendency to underutilize the platform when it comes to running images.

The Boston Globe, however, is one of those outlets that does recognize and work with the potential offered by the web. The site is by no means perfect—when images run with news stories, the old patterns often still apply—but the “Photography” section of bostonglobe.com offers something entirely different. Special efforts are made to showcase the efforts of the Globe’s staff photographers, but other photo collections, composed of wire images, make up a considerable portion of the page. The site itself could be a little more streamlined—there are so many choices for photo viewing on one page that it’s a little overwhelming—but at the same time, the variety of collections available on one page for browsing minimizes the time viewers spend clicking around to find a slideshow.

Imagen 3

The best part of the site, however, is the size at which the images in the collections are run. The default minimum width for the photos is 959 pixels, and viewers can also choose to employ the “full screen” option.
Links to the main Globe photo blogs are prominent and easy to find, but it was somewhat frustrating to visit the “Big Shot” sports photoblog only to discover that its host page was the Sports section, and that I had to click the back button in order to get back to the Photo area. This was not an issue with the other blogs, however.

Overall, the Boston Globe’s photo section does an excellent job of showcasing its visual information. While there are some navigation tweaks to be worked out, the site itself stands out as a good model of how online news outlets can work with the web.

Saint Louis Zoo

Much like its Houston counterpart, the Saint Louis Zoo is located right in the middle of the city’s major park (Hermann Park in Houston). Unlike its Houston counterpart, the Saint Louis Zoo is free. Considering these two factors, I was pretty surprised to realize that the zoo is actually a very good one. I’m a zoo nerd–I judge the parks I go to all the time on all kinds of random things (creativity of exhibit design, size of exhibits, handicap accessibility (since I tend to go to zoos with my grandfather, who can’t spend too much time walking around), etc etc). I still can’t figure out how St Louis does such a good job despite not charging admission, but it passed way more of my tests than Houston ever did.

20090912_0003_edit_webA bush dog. I’d never heard of these before, but apparently they live in South America, eat rodents called “pacas,” and have webbed feet. They’re also very cute.

20090912_0022_edit._webI’d also never seen Bactrian camels (the kind with two humps) in a zoo before. This one’s a baby….awwwww.

20090912_0025_edit_webFor all of its great exhibits, though, the zoo had a weirdly constraining way of feeding the animals. These are the reticulated giraffes, having feeding time in the Antelope House (which looked like it was something out of the 1800s, what with all the steel bars and small spaces).

20090912_0024_edit_webOn the plus side, it was pretty neat to get so close to the giraffes. I flashed this one with the on-camera flash of my little Canon Rebel. Made for an interesting effect.