AT THE HEART OF IT ALL
See the image above? It’s a graph that shows thousands of photo views on f/go in 2014.
It began as a single shutter click. Then another. And many, many more after that. Like a heartbeat, f/go began in 2007 and online in 2011 with the sole idea of appreciating and supporting amateur athletes. “focused on amateur athletes on the go” was our original tagline. The notion that many athletic sports go with little or no recognition. The concept that each athlete is elite in her or his own way. So as f/go, we photographed, published and promoted these heartfelt acts of athleticism — to celebrate active lifestyles, healthy minds, respect for one selves and one’s competitors, development of skills, and the sense of accomplishment. It is through these experiences that confidence grows, propelling oneself to layout, scissors kick, swing for the fences, lean into a corner, spike a kill, go for the pin — well, you get the point — in essence, to live each heartbeat to its fullest.
After publishing nearly 12,000 photos in 176 galleries and covering 23 unique types of sports in 2014, f/go takes this moment to pause, set down the camera and appreciate, reflect and celebrate the past year. And to thank all of you. For none of these heart-jumping moments would be possible without you, the amateur athletes who put themselves out there each day.
HEART JUMPING MOMENTS
Life’s moments come and go and are all too fleeting. In 2014, there were so many heart jumping moments to cherish and celebrate, from high school nail-biters, conference, regional, sectional and state championships to college, national and world championships around the US and world. Every event, no matter how grand its stage was the stage where competitors faced and sport took place.
Moments made special in 2014 were more often than not the collaboration of skill, talent, coordination, focus, and above all effort. When everything remarkably comes together in an instant, the culmination of hours and years of training, development, practice and teamwork — it’s magical.
OFF THE BEATEN PATH
While we appreciate athletes in all sports, we’ve got to admit it, we have a soft spot in our heart for sports on the roads less traveled. Paddling, snow shoe racing, trail running, Nordic skiing, ultimate, skijoring and bike racing on road, gravel, track, snow and ice — let’s admit it, these folks are following the beat of their own drummer. In 2014, f/go covered 25 unique types of sports.
WHAT MAKES OUR HEARTS JUMP?
After publishing some 12,000 photos, we’re bound to ask, is this too much? We keep a thumb on the pulse based on what f/go’ers say and do. In 2014, we experienced more than 13 million photo views, and exceeded 1.5 million in September alone. Each day, photos are viewed not just from the previous day’s, week’s, or even month’s event. Typically more than 700 different galleries are viewed each and every day, including galleries that were as long ago as our first years of publishing in 2007/2008. Coupled with more connecting with f/go on Twitter, Facebook and other social media, we’re thrilled to feel f/go’s heart beat stronger.
Along with images identified elsewhere by captions as monthly favorites, here’s some monthly favorites for 2014 based on the number of times they were viewed and reviewed.
TO THOSE WHO FAN ON
Being in sport, especially for the more non-mainstream sports, events often take place with virtually little fan support. So when the stands are filled (heck, even when the stands aren’t filled and the lone voices of the core fans root), and the cheers are heard, it adds something special. We admit that we don’t spend enough time turning around to photograph those who support sporting events. So here’s to recognizing the fans are important members of the sporting community.
“BUILDING COMMUNITY AROUND THE SPIRIT OF SPORT”
We’ve come to strongly believe that community is a critical part of sport. Communities are created by being a part of teams. And the communities that surround teams provide the support that makes so much more possible. In recognition that building community was f/go’s core purpose, we revised the tagline to “building community around the spirit of sport.”
The key communities we support building community around include:
MINNEAPOLIS HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC TEAM COMMUNITIES
f/go began in 2007 with the commitment to show urban high school athletes in their best light. All too often the stories reported in traditional media reinforce negative stereotypes and minimize the quality of urban sports — and instead focus most of their attention on established, booster supported, successful major sports programs. With the interest in turning those stories around, to publish positive imagery for students who may live in more challenging situations, we’ve been covering all seven Minneapolis high schools as equally as possible.
In 2014, f/go published 80 photo galleries for 18 boys and girls sports communities, including: Alpine skiing (1), baseball (7), boys basketball (15), girls basketball (15), football (14), gymnastics (5), boys hockey (5), girls hockey (1), boys and girls lacrosse (3), rugby (2), boys and girls soccer (24), softball (4), boys swimming (1), track & field (1), volleyball (4), and wrestling (5).
ADULT ACTIVE LIFESTYLES COMMUNITIES
Local communities who engage and promote healthy lifestyles add to community quality of life for all. For the last decade, f/go has been the official photographer for the Minneapolis City of Lakes Loppet year-round series of quarterly events. And as an avid biker, has covered bike races on the road, velodrome track, ice, snow and gravel. In 2014, f/go published 11 galleries supporting these communities.
With summertimes free of high school sports, f/go turns much of our attention to the sport of Ultimate. We’ve been covering Ultimate since 2008, and in 2014, f/go published 58 photo galleries of men’s/open, women’s and mixed division games. We traveled as far away as Lecco, Italy to cover the World Flying Disc Federation World Championships and stayed as close as home in Minneapolis to cover the USA Ultimate US Open, as well as “ultimate road trips” to Cincinnati for the D1 College Championships and Frisco, Texas to cover Nationals. This was actually the first year we didn’t get to any high school ultimate games.
Ultimate holds a special place in our heart for it’s “Spirit of the Game” and the sense of community that surrounds each team and the sport in general. Witnessing teams who win the spirit award with the same level of excitement as winning the game on the field fills our hearts everytime.
Team circles are a signature of ultimate’s team camaraderie.
“Spirit Circles” are truly unique to the sport, where after a game a circle is formed with alternating players on each team and team representatives will talk briefly about the game. It’s a demonstration of respect for the game and opponents. It builds a greater sense of community beyond the field of play.
AND THE BEAT GOES ON
Each time we go out to cover a sporting event, our eyes are keen to the action. Prepared and excited about the opportunity to create an image that captures the essence of sport — its physicality, kinetic beauty and energy. But in the end, the imagery that leaves us with the strongest impression is what comes from the hearts of those who play their games. It is the spirit of amateur athletes and the communities around them left us with indelible memories for 2014. And for that, our heart beat stronger.
La de da de de, la de da de da.
Footnotes: References to f/go as “we” and “our” is sort of a euphemism in that all photos are by Steve Kotvis. But like sport, f/go is larger than one person.