Kalamazoo Gazette Article

October 6, 2008

Article from mlive.com .....

Former coach finds sports photography therapeutic, rewarding
BY KELLE BARR / Kalamazoo Gazette
Monday October 6, 2008

PARCHMENT -- Tom Wolf began taking pictures at Parchment sporting events when his son Alex began playing on the Parchment varsity basketball team in 2002. And, unlike most parents, he was in it for more than just keepsakes. Shooting photos was therapeutic. ``Because I've been a coach, I'm a very loud parent when I sit in the stands,'' Wolf said. ``I tend to yell a lot at coaches and players. I was half parent, half coach.'' After a while, Wolf decided that his spirited, competitive nature had crossed the line to poor sportsmanship.

``I wasn't setting a good example with that kind of behavior,'' he said. ``And my camera became a pacifier.'' Taking pictures, Wolf soon discovered, accomplished two things -- it got him closer to the action and it forced him to hold his tongue. And the photos he kept snapping weren't just of his son -- the team action photos that Wolf was taking became so popular among the other players and their parents that soon Wolf began attending more and more sporting events. He built a Web site where he could post his photos for everyone to enjoy free of charge. Alex graduated from Parchment High School two years ago and is now a point guard for the Western Michigan University basketball team, but his dad never stopped taking pictures of Parchment athletes in action. In fact, his participation as an amateur shutterbug has grown -- today, he attends more than 100 games a year, just to take pictures that parents and students can enjoy.

``I am not a professional photographer, and I don't want to be,'' Wolf said. ``I get offers to shoot senior pictures, but I always turn them down. I don't do this for money -- I do it to give back to the community.'' Wolf, 47, is a self-described ``army brat'' whose family moved 18 times in 18 years -- far too much for him to feel a strong sense of community anywhere he lived growing up. ``It wasn't until I moved to Parchment to raise my family that I felt that,'' Wolf said. ``This community is very warm and welcoming.''

Wolf said that he takes great joy from the excitement of the kids and their families when they see his photos, and that they are a frequent addition to MySpace pages. The Parchment School District Board of Education recognized Wolf for his efforts at its Sept. 22 meeting. ``Everyone loves to go to the Web and see Tom Wolf's pictures,'' Superintendent Matt Miller said. ``What he does for us is very time-consuming and very selfless.''

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Thomas R. Wolf, Jr. <wmuwolf@gmail.com>

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