Et Cetera: Bowled Over

Sports victory moment caught

Coach Nick Pelham and Hugh Ryan embrace in celebration.

Sports photography is a practice in patience. To freeze the speed of athletes in action in a crisp, immortalized moment takes experience, skill, and often a touch of luck. 

During a fall 2017 game between Dutch Fork and Dorman for the 5A state championship title, Dutch Fork’s defensive coordinator, Nick Pelham, became so overcome with enthusiasm that he rushed to embrace safety Hugh Ryan, a senior. Captured forever is a coach and his player — mid flight — with Nick animating intense adrenaline. Dutch Fork had just stopped a 2-point conversion attempt with 19 seconds remaining to secure the 28-27 victory.

“This is one of my favorite photos of all time,” says Nick. “In fact, I have a copy of it in a frame in my kitchen. So every time I am doing dishes I can glance at it.”

Nick had reason to be energized. For the second year in a row, the Dutch Fork football team claimed a state championship title. Remarkably, the Dutch Fork defense gave up 134.7 yards/game rushing; 104.9 yards/game passing; 239.6 total yards allowed per game; 13.4 points allowed per game; and only allowed 1.64 touchdowns per game. “That last one is what I was most proud of!” says Nick. He recalls of that moment, “The play was so close to working that I wasn’t sure if we had stopped them. Then I saw Hugh running off the field with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind! So I ran to meet him and celebrate with him.” The rest of the story is that the player’s taller frame knocked his coach to the ground. Nick did not mind. At that moment, he says he could not have been happier.

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