SMU Men's Basketball vs Wichita State by Londen Wheeler

What a wild ride 2019 has been so far in terms of the opportunities that I’ve had with my photography.  I’m still trying to figure out what’s next on my journey as a photographer!  I don’t know what the rest of the journey will look like but it’s been pretty sweet thus far.  You won’t find a blog post from the second basketball game that I shot at SMU, mainly because I got caught up with doing some other stuff and didn’t have time to make a post.  So, you’ll get this one instead!

The game against Wichita State was one of the best games I’ve seen in a while.  The intensity that each team played with was beyond amazing. These guys were going at it in the first half and at one point, I was hoping that we could take the game into a double overtime, jump start my excitement for March Madness! Unfortunately, the double overtime didn’t happen but it was still a great game nonetheless.

One other cool fact about this game was that it was their senior night and the last home game of the season.  President Bush didn’t show up to the past two games so I’m really lucky that I got a few photographs of him while he was there… Well, he could’ve been there but just not courtside like he was when I saw him.  Who knows.  Anyway, the senior night was pretty cool.  It was a packed stadium, intensity was there, the crowd was excited and all four seniors got to start together.  Being an athlete my entire life, I know exactly what it feels like to be playing your last home game and feeling how you’ll never go back to play there again as an athlete.  Wild, right?

Well, that’s all for now! Stay tuned for more to come this month! Lots of things moving and manifesting right now and I’m super excited to see where things will go.  Also, if you don’t already, give me a follow on Instagram to stay in the loop with what’s going on when I’m not posting blogs!

NCAA DI Softball Regionals at Baylor University by Londen Wheeler

People still can't spell my name right, guys! 

People still can't spell my name right, guys! 

It's funny how I ended up in Waco for four days, especially because I never really expected to be shooting any sports any time soon.  This past Monday, I got into work pretty early, like 5:30 am early, and my coworker who sits behind me asked if I had any photography gigs this weekend.  There weren't any Instameets going on and I didn't have any portrait sessions so it was an unusual, "no."  Literally an hour later, I get a text from my former internship supervisor asking if I had any plans this weekend.  I told her no and that I was just going to chill and probably hang with some friends.  Which then sprung up her next question...  "How far do you live from Waco?"  My response was roughly two hours depending on traffic because anyone who lives in Texas knows that if you take I35, be prepared to plan your day accordingly.  She then asked if I was interested in shooting the NCAA Division I Softball Regionals at Baylor University.  Being that I was upset that I would miss another Regional with JMU, and after finding out that they weren't hosting this year, I sprung up and said, "when, where, and how long do I need to be there?!"  She told me the weekend game plan and I told her that I was in after talking with my manager and getting approval to go.  Before you know it, I was heading down to Waco with a car full of camera gear, bumping my Spanish worship playlist on Spotify and catching minor cases of road rage.

Caught texting on ESPN in between innings! - Photo courtesy of Scott Eyre

Caught texting on ESPN in between innings! - Photo courtesy of Scott Eyre

Once I got there, I was feeling pretty nostalgic to be traveling with a JMU sports team again and seeing all of the familiar and friendly faces from Harrisonburg, Va.  I also got to meet the extremely talented Director of Video, Clayton.  It was awesome to watch him work and create the videos that he does for the athletics department.  I also got to see my friend, Curt Dudley, the voice of JMU athletics and I met Ty, one of the team administrators.  We had some great conversations and got to know each other in the little bit of time that we had in Waco.

So, I'm just going to share some of my photos from the games, which is the whole reason behind this post.  Also, check out this photo that my friend, Scott took of me on ESPN!

Thursday - Practice at Baylor University

The ambitious Dukes take the field at Getterman Stadium to get some practice in.  The weather from Dallas to Waco is very different.  The humidity in Waco was enough to take your breath away and before I knew it, I was sweating profusely and feeling dehydrated.  Other than that, it was nice to get back on the field to get some shots after not shooting any real sports since January when JMU's football team won the national championship in Frisco.

Friday - JMU vs. Oregon State University

Ok, so nobody ask me how I was able to get Coach Dean to give me a thumbs up but I sat there for a good five minutes waiting for him to do something.  As a result, this is what he did.  Can't complain because the shot was totally worth it and if you know Coach Dean, I'm sure it is meme worthy because someone like him has to have a ton of funny phrases that would be perfect for memes.  The Dukes had a great first game against OSU and it was tough at first to get my eyes back into seeing action again.  Everything was moving way faster than what I had practiced for earlier last week (See my Neighborhood Basketball post).

Saturday - jMU vs. Baylor University - Game 1

The Dukes went into this game ready to go and I was confident that we were going to get this dub and go home for the night.  We were up 2-1 going into the sixth inning, but Baylor had a heckuva hit and ended up with a three-run home run.  That homer gave Baylor a 4-2 lead over JMU.  Upset?  Yes, but the ladies responded in the next game against Kent State.  The rest of the tournament was on the line going into that game and in order to move on, we would have to beat Kent State.

Saturday - jmu vs. Kent State - Game 2

This was it.  The moment we were all waiting for.  If we won this game, we would move on and play Baylor again on Sunday.  This one wasn't a nail biter thankfully.  The ladies marched right by Kent State to go home for the night with a 4-0 win.  The media guys didn't leave the field until a little after 10 pm so we were pretty tired.  We went back to the hotel room, I plugged up my camera batteries to charge, took a shower, and knocked out before I could count 3 sheep.  It was a long day, especially in that Waco humidity having your energy and every ounce of water drained from your body.

Sunday - jmu vs. Baylor University (Again)

So, here we are.  The game that would decide if we go home or play Baylor for a third time to take him the Regional Championship two years in a row and advance to Super Regionals.  The day started off pretty chilly and I think that I was more nervous than the ladies were.  I was pacing and walking all over the stadium because I just wanted the game to start so we could get to this second game and decide the winner of the regional.  After the game started, things were going as they should.  Both teams were giving it their all and only time would tell when the winner would be decided.  While trying to intentionally walk the batter who hit the three-run homer on Saturday, JMU's pitcher threw a pitch that went left and Baylor's runner on third bass took the opportunity to slide into home plate and score a run.

Outside of that one point that was scored, neither team was able to get points from hits.  There were a lot of great plays being made in the outfield by both teams.  But just when we thought there was light at the end of the tunnel, a senior batter from JMU smacked a ball to center field!  I mean, it looked sooooo nice.  I thought to myself that this was going to be it, the home run that could get us out of the hole.  The ball fell just a few feet short of going over the back wall and was caught by Baylor's center fielder who wasn't letting a single ball touch the green the entire game.  Defeated?  For now, yes.  But there's no doubt in my mind that these ladies will be just as great next year.  I see them being twice as successful as they have been the past few years.  I'm ready to see this team make it to the Women's College World Series!  It's only a matter of time now, ladies.  Let's do this!

I want to send a super huge shoutout to JMU athletics for allowing me to photograph this tournament.  It is always an honor to be apart of this amazing program, surrounded by amazing players, coaches, and staff.  You all made the experience a million times better and I am truly grateful for all that you have done for me.  Can't wait to see you all again!

To see more content from this weekend and to follow JMU athletics, visit their web site.  Click the link under the photo.

Neighborhood Basketball by Londen Wheeler

On my way home, I pass this park every day but for some reason I told myself to look over towards the basketball court today.  So I looked over and saw a bunch of guys playing this heat... So kudos to them for being out there and not passing out like I would've done.  But the guys were all very welcoming and cool to be around.  Some of them asked me if I was shooting for someone big which was a big "no" from me.  I explained that I did a lot of sports photography in my college days and that I needed to get some extra practice for what I have planned for this week.  I definitely need to get my eyes back into the swing of catching action so this was the next best thing for some extra practice.  Also, it's been four months since I last shot with my 1D Mark III so I had to dust that bad boy off and get some shots with it.

Some of the guys actually enjoy going to Downtown Dallas and doing shoots so I can't wait to link up with them and head down to Dallas for some street photography.  These are the moments that I live for.  Making these connections and getting to know people that I wouldn't normally make an effort to reach out to.  After being at work since 5:30 in the morning, that's the last thing I want to do is interact with people but today was different.  Maybe next time I see the fellas out there playing ball, I may just join them.  Don't know how well that would turn out since my soccer and track running skills don't cross over to basketball very well. *inserts wide eye emoji*

I would write more but I'm feeling a nap coming on! 

Also, can y'all believe we're halfway through the month of May? I swear it was just April last week!!  Where is the time going?!  Another thing, guys!  I'm interested in know what you all listen to on a daily basis!  If you have a Spotify account, feel free to send me a playlist or two or comment your favorite songs below.  I've been listening to a lot of Spanish music lately so I'm sharing one of my playlists with you guys!

Afternoon Golf by Londen Wheeler

Today was first time in 15 years that I have been to a golf course and it was pretty nostalgic getting to spend that time with my dad.  The only difference is that this time I was actually allowed to drive the golf cart.  Imagine that.  About 15 years ago were living in Fluvanna County, Virginia and we went to the golf course at Lake Monticello..... Like what?  Thinking about that being so long ago just confirms that I'm getting old, y'all.  I remember Dad giving me a club to let me take a swing and it was by far the most epic fail you could ever have.  The first time I ever swung a golf club would result in me smacking the ball into a pond.  Ahhh, the good ol' days.  Now, I'm grown up, working full time and showing up to the golf course with jeans on and some Vans after an exhausting day of work.

I didn't play any golf this go round but I did take some photos of my Dad, Pastor Perry and this random golfer named Jet who ended up tagging along with us to play a few holes.  Jet was a pretty cool guy and shared laughs with us like he has known us for years.

I have to say, this was one of the most relaxing and fun afternoons that I've in a while so I'm very thankful for that!

I also wanted to pitch my personal twitter page, @dragonflyjnes because I am doing a short photo series of my life here in Texas and the things that I'm doing to help transition into the Texas lifestyle.  So if you would like to see a weekly update of photos, head over to my page and check out the photos!  Just click the tweet above and it will take you to the thread.

Keep it real, everyone!  Until next time!

#BrittenStrong by Londen Wheeler

On February 27, 2017, my coach, my best friend, my brother was hit and severely injured by an erratic driver.  This accident has left him paralyzed from the chest down and may never walk again.  Hearing about the news of the accident was not easy to digest but with many prayers and positive thoughts, I know healing is declared in Jesus' name.

I remember the first time we met back in 2012 at my district track meet at Nelson County High School in Virginia.  He walked up to me as cool as a cucumber and dapped me up like he had known me for years.  From that moment, it was like everything else fell into place.  I could feel God living through him, I could feel that genuine spirit, I could feel the friendship that was about to transpire.  Coach O was without a doubt a light for me and everyone he came in contact with.

Again, words can't describe how thankful I am for Coach O and there isn't enough time in the day to tell you all of our crazy stories.  I know that I don't have much to give but I hope to use my photography web site and resources that I have to make sure Coach receives all of the support he needs as he begins his journey.

If you have Facebook, I encourage you to take a few seconds to head over and like his support page (see links below).  There, you can view updates on his progress, read stories about how he has touched people's lives, and see countless photos!  If you have some cash to spare, please consider donating to help Coach and his family as well.

Please continue to pray and send positive thoughts to the Olinger family!  We're in this together.  #FaithFocusFinish #BrittenStrong