Monday, February 22, 2016

As in all Things, Change is Inevitable

As in all things, change is inevitable and it’s time things change for me. I have loved being a part of this community. I have loved exploring the back streets of San Angelo, the lonely dirt roads of the Concho Valley and exploring the landscapes of open beauty of the surrounding communities. I have loved watching the sunrise over Lake Nasworthy, the Milky Way sail over San Angelo State Park and the Moon set behind the Twin Buttes. Meeting new friends, celebrating their victories and mourning their losses, experiencing new places and going on adventures I never thought I would have has punctuated my time here in San Angelo. Sadly, though, it’s time to say goodbye, something I’m finding harder to do as I pack up the house for the next adventure.

On Sunday, I submitted my last photograph to the Standard-Times as a staff photographer. I have accepted a position as a staff photographer in another newsroom on the Treasure Coast of Florida. Frankly, I’m a bit nervous about leaving my home state of Texas and moving halfway across the country. Texas is the only home I have ever known. I was born here, went to school here, worshiped here and made lifelong friends here.

I started my career as a photojournalist at the Standard-Times in January 2004. I had recently graduated from the University of North Texas and I was a young, ambitious, much thinner kid with a full head of hair. Now, I’m not as thin and my hairline scarily resembles that of my father’s. But that’s okay. It’s all part of living a full life.

So let me get to it and offer up my most heartfelt thanks to a few members of this community:

To Mark Baker, Julie Highsmith and Dr. Carol Ann Bonds, thank you for your kindness and a friendly handshake in the classroom or on the sideline of a Central or Lake View ballgame.

To Police Chief Tim Vasquez, Lt. Mike Hernandez and the rest of the department, thank you for remembering my name, helping me with stories into the wee hours and giving me stern, proper direction when I found myself in areas I shouldn’t have been.

To Anthony Wilson and Brian Groves, thank you for journalism guidance and stunning, jealousy-inducing videos of this city.

To Justin Jonas, Tom Thompson and Brittni Kaczyk and the fine folks at the San Angelo Stock Show & Rodeo Association, thank you for your dedication to our West Texas heritage and all the hard work you do. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you. Y'all are first class people.

To all the area coaches and athletes, thank you for allowing me to be a part of your victories and losses, for letting me impose my lens on the quiet times in the locker room and raucous celebrations on and off the field. There have been some great teams I have had the pleasure to cover over the last 12 years and wish the best of luck to all of you.

To all of the staff members of the Standard-Times who have come and gone over the years, thank you for shaping me into the journalist I am today.  To Lakeith Kennedy, thanks for giving me a chance. To my fellow photographers Arthur Spragg, Cynthia Esparza, Brian Connelly and Joe Thomas, thank you for guidance, friendship and helping me keep a level head. To my newsroom cohorts in crime Justin Zamudio, Jennifer Rios, Monique Ching, Michelle Gaitan, Sandy Rojas, Rick Smith and Sabrina Roberts, thank you for your enduring spirits, infectious laughter and the comforting camaraderie of our monthly reporter’s dinners. I will miss those deeply.

To the sports staff of Paul Harris, Carlos Silva, Quinton Martinez and Charles Bryce, thank you for putting up with me while on long drives across the state to cover a game, your willingness to discover new eateries and for not getting too offended when I not-so-casually suggested putting away your cellphone while behind the wheel of a rickety staff car as we fly down a winding back road at night in the pouring rain.

And a special thank you to editors Tim Archuleta and Mike Kelly, two men dedicated to the craft and worthy of the title editor-in-chief.

And now finally, to you, the loyal readers of the Standard-Times, thank you for just being you. Thank you for allowing me into your homes, schools, places of business and in your churches to tell your stories to this community. I have laughed and cried with many of you, revealed many of you for your contributions seen and unseen to the well-being of this town and, most importantly, got a glimpse of the truly great things that can happen when like-minded individuals come together for the greater good.

To be honest, I didn’t think that I would be in San Angelo for as long as I have. I thought that I would be here for three to fours years, gain the experience I needed to and then move on. But this community has the unique ability to creep into your soul, plant roots and keep you firmly grounded in good ‘ol Texas values. Though I’ll be moving half a country away, a piece of this community will be coming with me.

Thank you.

84th annual San Angelo Stock Show & Rodeo: Cinch Chute-Out

Well, it's finally here, the end of the rodeo season here in San Angelo. After three full weekends of performances, the final performance, the Cinch Chute-Out, promised to be a huge production with high-action from the invited athletes. It didn't disappoint.

The opening ceremony was one of the coolest productions I've seen in a long time. I get to sit next to the guy who fires off the pyrotechnics and he gave me the rundown of what to expect. While he did a good job of describing what was going to happen, to see it in real-time was amazing.

Since the Cinch Chute-Out isn't a PRCA event the format for the competition is different and without a few of the normal rodeo events. Excluded from the event was steer wrestling and team roping. There were ten competitors in the bareback, saddle bronc, bull riding, tie-down roping and barrel racing events. Each competitor got one chance to be one of the top for times or scores to make it to the second round. The person with the fastest time and highest score in the second round won $12,500.

It was a great event and the highlight of the night for me, and I imagine the rest of the crowd, was when tie-down roper Tuf Cooper roped and tied a calf in 7.1 seconds. San Angelo has always been a roping town so when Cooper finished with that amazing time, the place went nuts.

It was a great evening with high action, quick times and high scores. Here are a few images I made that night. Enjoy!