Friday, May 11, 2012

Whatever It Takes

In my seven-ish years in this industry, there isn't a lot that I won't do for one of my teams. I've driven team managers to road games, ridden home on a bus full of soccer players overnight from Santa Barbara and sacrificed four days in December to make sure the women's basketball team had plenty of coverage in Honolulu. Hey, it's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it.

When you work with a group of players and coaches for 4-6 months straight during the school year, you tend to get somewhat attached.

It doesn't necessarily stop after the players graduate either. Fans can spend four years watching someone on the court or field and they too can develop that same attachment.

Aggie baseball's first baseman Eric Johnson has been helping Athletics Communications out with a few feature stories on recently-graduated baseball players. In the day and age of Facebook and text messages, it's easier than ever for Eric to get in touch with one of his former teammates and ask a couple questions about where they are and what they're doing.

The first piece he wrote for us, which many of you may have read, was "Catching Up with Daniel Cepin". Cepin is currently playing professional baseball in Barcelona and Eric and I agreed it would be a great feature for the website. So he asked Cepin some questions via Facebook, crafted a great story, then discovered that Cepin had some action shots of himself in his CB Barcelona uniform.

"It would be so great to get these photos for the story," Eric remarked.

Then let's do it.

So after a solid 30 minutes of Google searching and Facebook browsing, I tracked the action shots from Facebook to a Picasa album of a photographer in Barcelona who covers all of the league's teams. And there were some great shots.  So how do I get them from him? Well usually you ask the photographer for use of their photos in exchange for a photo credit.

The catch? I have no idea if he speaks English.

Good thing I'm half-Cuban and spent four months studying abroad in Madrid in Spain.

It's true Aggie fans. My last name may be Piechowski, but my mother was born in Cuba. We grew up speaking Spanish, enjoying all of the Cuban traditions and foods there were to enjoy and, after spending one semester in Spain, I majored in the language.

I'm not entirely fluent, but man I wanted those photos.

And it worked. I greeted him, told him about the story on Cepin and asked if he would send me a photo or two to feature in the story. Like most photographers, he was unsure at first, even telling me he'd charge me a euro per photo if I wanted to use one. I responded with our website link, assuring him I would use just one or two photos and give him full credit. I was thrilled when he responded with the photos I'd requested.

In the grand scheme of thing, it's probably not a huge deal. I got some photos for a story. But it was another SID victory for me. Well and for my mom. She proofread the emails.

Amanda Piechowski has been known to use her secret Spanish-speaking skills to eavesdrop on the soccer field and mess up a lot of plays by the opposing teams. The looks on their faces are always priceless.