During our semi-annual all-staff meeting Wednesday morning, KU Director of Athletics Sheahon Zenger told us how he questioned himself this summer, asking whether he was ready to take on the challenges of another school year. Quietly, I had to chuckle. I have been asking myself that question come early August for quite a few years. Thankfully, the answer has always been yes.
Guess what else that question means? My annual blog featuring a song based on the concept of time. This year I am digging deep into my rapping roots and pulling up C-Blocks’ 1997 hit, Time is Tickin’ Away. Now, after you stop laughing and regain composure over any ties I might have to rapping, I must reveal that outside of the chorus, intoned by two “fine” backup singers, I struggled to understand C-Blocks’s rap line. Nevertheless, for someone who long ago lost his ability to instantly pick up on rapid-fire lyrics, the lines remain relevant no matter one’s age, and no matter my auditory struggles.
Let’s talk about time – tickin’ away every day – so wake up on up before it’s gone away – catch the 411 and stay up like the sun – remind yourself what’s done and done – so let yesterday stay with the bygones – keep your body and soul and your mind on the right track – in fact you gotta stay on the real black.
Thanks to some outstanding efforts from a wide variety of KU sports, the past school year certainly was a good one for me. Yet, yesterday does need to stay with the bygones. The time to shine again is at hand for all. The only problem is that it takes time to get going. There seems to be an almost non-stop flow of KU athletes through the studio door for their head shots, team poses and other media guide work – and school has yet to start. While two-a-days wear on the athletes’ bodies to ready them for the long season ahead, the immediate rush does the same to me.
Don’t turn around and don’t look back – we trying to take the positive to another level…keep your head one more time – and feel the rhythm – I’m telling you life it too short – you know the feeling.
Amazingly, even in the midst of it all, suddenly there is a”feeling” that leads to a “rhythm” that makes even the mundane so worth my while. Those are moments that lead to the biggest smiles. Having to redo a whole series of photographs does not sound like one of those moments, but it turned out to be just that.
The KU volleyball team had one of the finest seasons in the program’s history last fall. Nine juniors helped lead the team to a national ranking, the NCAA Championships and many post-season accolades for the players and head coach. From the time that group arrived three years ago, their confidence in their abilities led me to push myself to make their media guide photographs something special, unique, and most of all, fun. Now seniors, they grew to trust me to create something unique. With their help, we have done that during their careers. This year, I decided to explore shadows for their position groups.
Sadly, before we even started, injuries ended the career of one player. Then almost immediately after completing all of the photographs earlier this month, another player made a choice to end her career. That meant the team photo, the senior photographs and one of the position groups needed to be redone, as did the poster and display images already printed from an earlier session. Fitting all that into the team’s schedule of two-a-days and my seven-day-a-week run meant a time squeeze with three separate lighting setups in two different locations. Throw in the realization the players were returning from a two-day physically and mentally challenging bonding camp, a disaster seemed to await.
Instead, we continued to laugh our way through it all with an even greater willingness to get the photographs just right. After it all, I could not have been happier, and the reaction of the players brought on big smiles all around. The bond between us only grew stronger in the process thanks to the “rhythm.”
…take time and still do the right thing – and not the wrong – so listen to the words of the song – tick tock your seconds away from the judgement day – so get your mind ready – take the evil’s BUT out-of-the-way.
Football coach Charlie Weis hopes a massive infusion of junior college players will turn the team’s fortunes around quickly. It also means that the players arrive far from quickly. Head shots come in bursts with long fits of waiting. Since players don coats and ties, long-suffering office manager Erin Penning always jumps in to dress the very big men. We believed Saturday after a scrimmage and Fan Appreciation Day, we finally would wrap up the task. Naturally, that belief evaporated when three players failed to appear.
Yesterday, the missing three finally arrived at the studio. I noticed a dark red ukulele propped up next to the door. Katy Lonergan, football’s director of communications, confided to me that the final player felt so bad about missing Saturday’s shoot, he brought the ukulele to apologize by singing me a song.
Talk about helping get my “mind ready.” Samson Faifili did just that as he strummed away, singing from his heart, while I raced to adjust lights as fast and often as I could for photos. Nothing can take “the evil’s BUT out-of-the-way” faster than the peaceful sound of a ukulele played so well.
Time is tickin’ away – you’ve gotta – live your life – day by day – happy or sad – good or bad – life is too short – you’ve gotta – keep your head.
A group of volleyball players and a massive, soulful-strumming, sweet-singing Hawaiian reminded me that while time might be ticking away, life is too short to not enjoy the feeling and rhythm that still make it all worthwhile.