Heading to Florence, Alabama For the Division II National Title Game

Ten years ago today I was in Florence, Alabama to watch the National Title game between Grand Valley State and Northwest Missouri State. That season was a fun one in which I saw many GVSU games. It started during the regular season when they played at home, and Purdue was away. It then lead to a run of seeing every playoff game at Lubbers Stadium. A crazy declaration as the team celebrated going to the title game on their own field led to a trip to Florence to see the National Title game. Ten years later I thought that it would be fun to go back and look at some of my images from that day. I don’t do things like this often, but for something like this I thought that it would be fun to do. I can see a few other games in the future that this would be fun to try.

Capturing the Action From the Stands

Before 2013 I shot all of my sports from the stands for the most part. My seat locations were based on where I thought the action would be. For something like this though we were in the section designated to the school so I had a good view of midfield. I was shooting with my Canon Rebel with the two kit lenses with me. I had a 18-55 and a 75-300mm lens. None of that is ideal to shoot football, but at the time I was setting the groundwork for what I would use when I made it down to the field. I was following the action making the transition to the field a little easier. At times I still shoot from the stands today for things like Major League Baseball games, but it is hard not to be on the playing field. Looking through these photos though reminds me of how much fun I used to have in the stands.

Capturing the Emotion of the Moment

That day ten years ago I made a lot of okay images. Looking back through my take of that day I realized that I really had no idea what I was doing back then. I was using auto modes to make my photos. Sometimes it would get the job done, and sometimes it would not. A key interception in the end zone was full of motion blur because I was letting the camera do the work for me. One photo from that day that I still love is this photo of two of the GVSU linemen holding the National Championship trophy. The emotion here is real, and I love it. In fact it is still in my portfolio today.

The Tragic Story of Cullen Finnerty

One thing that comes to mind when going back through these photos is just how sad the case of Cullen Finnerty is. In college he was the man. He won multiple national titles, and had the world in front of him. In 2013 he died alone in a woods after becoming disoriented. He was good to the game of football, but it was not good to him. He is yet another case of a player who was experiencing symptoms of CTE. The symptoms were not the sole cause of his death, but according to those who examined him after the fact they concluded that they may have been a factor. Seeing a photo like the one above of Cullen with my friend reminds me of the good times though.

More Photos From the Game

It was a fun day with some great weather for mid December. Here are a few other photos from that day that I liked.










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About Pinola Photo

I am a sports and lifestyle photographer based in West Lafayette, IN home of Purdue University. I cover sports for Big Ten teams as well as other colleges. You can follow me on twitter @pinolaphoto. You can also view my website at www.davewegielphoto.net

One response »

  1. […] a look back at the 2006 Grand Valley State Championship game ten years later. You can see that post here. Today I want to look back at a great baseball game played ten years ago today in South Bend, […]

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