New Year, Same Start by Londen Wheeler

Happy New Year, everyone!  Man, I tell ya.  What a start to the New Year!  This year started off exactly like it did last year.  James Madison University (JMU) came down to compete in this year's NCAA DI FCS Football Championship game against North Dakota State University (NDSU).  But before I talk about this crazy game, let's talk about an event that transpired the day before the game!

My good friend, Scott came down to photograph the game so you know we had to get together and hit the road.  Thursday night, Scott asked me if I wanted to go to Waco and visit Magnolia.  You know Magnolia!  The Magnolia from HGTV?  Yes, Magnolia!  I had no idea what Magnolia was and HGTV wasn't my first choice when it comes to watching tv.  I happily agreed to take the trip down since I have never been to this Magnolia.  Come to find out, last year when I photographed JMU softball at Baylor, I stayed in a hotel right down the street from Magnolia and still had no idea where or what it was.  Seeing this place was pretty neat.  I posted to my Snapchat and within 2 minutes of posting, I had several friends send me a message saying how jealous they were of me being there. 

Scott and I walked around the store so that he could pick up something for his wife and while we did that, I was taking in the ambience of this place.  It was certainly a place I would want to visit the next time I go to Baylor.  Maybe even take a friend or two and do a photoshoot there?

So Saturday was the big day and probably one of the most exciting events to add to my list of crazy things to happen in 2018.  JMU, looking for a back-to-back win, while NDSU was fighting to reclaim their title.  A nail-biting game to say the least.  I was shooting and trying to keep my emotion out of the game but could find myself actually getting stressed at almost every point in the game.  I didn't go to JMU, never taken a class there, but I am a self-proclaimed, die-hard JMU Dukes fan!  Don't @ me.

Ok, so not only was the game super exciting to shoot, I also got to photograph Terrell Owens!  Like, the Terrell Owens.  You know, T.O.  It was a pretty good day, other than the loss.  Lots of excitement, lots of photos, and even getting to spend some time with the FCS's best photo team!  Big thanks to Cathy for getting the squad back together for another year of photos, laughs, and love.

Ending a semester with JMU Athletics! by Londen Wheeler

JMU students pose for a photo in front of the ESPN College GameDay bus.

JMU students pose for a photo in front of the ESPN College GameDay bus.

Well, it has been one heck of a semester with JMU athletics and it was definitely one to remember.  It was great to get to know the athletes across town from EMU.  It was a great season for all of the fall programs.  First off, the football team had an outstanding year!  They had seven consecutive wins, beat SMU (an FBS school), had ESPN College GameDay come to campus and competed in the NCAA tournament!  I'd say that they had a pretty successful season and is looking to have another successful season next fall.

Janey Goodman celebrating after JMU receives a point against the College of Charleston.

Janey Goodman celebrating after JMU receives a point against the College of Charleston.

Women's soccer won the CAA conference title this year and competed in the first round of the NCAA tournament.  Field hockey placed second in the CAA conference after an amazing game against the University of Delaware.  One of my favorite sports to photograph was the women's volleyball team.  Their celebrations were always really intense and super fun to capture!  Photographing cross country was fun too.  It was great seeing the ladies run but there was one meet where it poured down raining the ENTIRE time that they were running.  I was out in New Market with a super huge umbrella strapped between my back and my camera bag so that I was able to use both hands while shooting.  It was miserable for me with my umbrella, I could only imagine what it felt like to be running in that pouring rain the entire time they were running.

Men's soccer was great.  Those guys really know how to play some soccer.  Reminds me of the days when I was young and playing soccer myself.  The fellas came up short in their race to the CAA championship game as they were defending CAA champions.

Right now, we are photographing winter sports, which include men and women's basketball, and track & field.  So far that has been great!  Right before we went on Thanksgiving break, EMU and JMU played for the first time since 1975.  EMU lost but it was definitely a great game to watch, especially when it's the first time that both teams have met in 40 years. 

I will be continuing to shoot for JMU next semester as I finish up my final semester of undergrad.  Can't wait for softball and baseball to roll around!  This past spring, the softball team did really well and hosted the NCAA Regionals.  If all goes well, they could possibly host it again, so fingers crossed!

Be on the lookout for more blog posts as I will be posting more as time goes on!