And how do we remember our Game Days as fans or athletes (or both)? Well to a great degree it is through the lens of the artists who capture those events for us. In the NWHL, we have several gifted, and hard working individuals who record the history being made in this league. We caught up with one of them, Schuyler Meyer of Schuyler Meyer Photography, and asked him about his craft and the Connecticut Whale. Here is what Schuyler had to say.
We were curious how Schuyler first got started with photography. He explained: "I've always "kind of" been interested in photography. A story I always like to tell is that in 5th grade, I participated in the school science fair. My project was about this body of water near my house (we'll call it the puddle pond). On the day of, I was presenting my project to the judges and I was going through my PowerPoint ("Here is a photo of the puddle pond in winter, ...in spring, ...in summer, here are photos of animals that live around the puddle pond, here are some plants from the area..."), and about half way through the presentation, I realized that I had forgotten to do any actual research, and my entire project was just a PowerPoint presentation with some photos I took."
Continuing he said "I became much more serious about photography my freshman year of college when I was elected historian of the baseball club. And then I became even more interested and serious about it when I started working for the school as a student photographer my junior year. I see these two points as like level one and level two of myself being a "photographer". Prior to that, I was just taking pictures with my Kodak point and shoot (like anyone would with a cell phone nowadays)"
So when did hockey come into the picture?"
"For as long as I remember, I've loved hockey. My dad played at Franklin Pierce University (prior to their NCAA debut) and I think he got me into it. I played for a couple of years when I was younger, but for various reasons, I stopped. Hockey wasn't really that popular in my area, so it was kind of always on the back burner. Once I started at Clarkson University, my interest in hockey skyrocketed. The highest level of play I had seen in person before Clarkson, was my dad's high school alumni game, and then seeing top tier D1 hockey was mind-blowing and I was transfixed from that first game. (It may have helped a little that the first game I went to, the Clarkson Women shutout Syracuse 9-0 with a hat trick from Geneviève Bannon.) Plus, the hockey community and culture in Potsdam is amazing as well. Additionally, I played intramurals and a little bit of club hockey throughout my entire time at Clarkson."
And how did you get interested in the NWHL, specifically the Whale?
"I first learned about the NWHL when one of the Clarkson players was drafted (~2017ish) and I've been a big fan ever since. Despite being a big fan of the league, I still can't decide on a favorite team, however, I've been rooting for the Whale a lot this season. After graduating from Clarkson last spring, I was looking for more hockey to replace all the Clarkson hockey that I'd be missing out on now that I was no longer there. And then it was announced that the Whale would be moving to Danbury (which is really close to my home), so I bought season tickets and have gone to as many games as I could this season."
Do you have a “game plan” for your game action shots?
" For the most part, yes. Each game I try to come up with a specific shot or type of shot that I want to try and capture (ex. panning, wide angle, bench or crowd reactions, etc. or something much more specific). I will also decide beforehand (or during the first period) where I want to shoot from - in the corners, behind the net, the highest place I can go (ex. top of the bleachers), home / away side, etc."
And how many photos do you take on a Whale Game Day?
"It can range anywhere from like 300 to 1500 photos, with the average between 600-800 per game. If I'm using both my camera bodies, then that number (and average) will go up, but I usually just shoot with my one camera."
Most fans snap photos with cell phones. Are there any pro tips on how they can take a better photo with their phone?
"One of the most essential things I've learned is that a photo is not just the subject, but also the background and the lighting and a whole lot of other factors that are equally as important. While fans with cell phones may not have as much control over certain things like lighting, they can change their framing and angles. A different framing of the same photo can change the entire emotion of that photo. So, try reaching down and angle the camera / phone up or reach up and angle the camera / phone down - try different things. If possible, walk around - close to the ice, far away from the ice, left, right. Basically, in summary, sometimes the best photo may be taken from your seat, with your phone at chest level, and sometimes you may have to move around (within reason) to get the best photo. I'm also a big fan of symmetry, so if it's possible to situate yourself in the middle of the stands or behind the net, a cool photo may come out of that."
Cetacean Nation thanks Schuyler for his great content here, and for continuing to help tell the story of the Connecticut Whale and the NWHL. From his lens, to our memories, Fins Up to that!
Our next contributor, Brooke Brennan has a very unique point of view on all things Pod. She is the wife of our amazing #33 Laura Brennan. And here is what Brooke had to tell us about her Whale experience.
"I became interested in the Whale after going to my first game during the inaugural year. Laura (my wife) played for Lisa Giovanelli (Giovi) during her time at Quinnipiac, and invited us to a game since she was now coaching the Whale. I had been to a few NHL games previously which I had enjoyed watching but seeing the women play completely changed how I felt about watching hockey. The speed and the skill level really blew me away. I couldn’t get enough, and dragged Laura to all of the Whale home games after that, during that season."
"I remember sitting upstairs in the restaurant at Chelsea Piers with Giovi and Laura after one of the Whale’s last home games and Laura jokingly saying to her, “if you need a third goalie to sit on the bench and get paid for it next season, I’m your girl!” Sure enough, in June after the season had ended, Giovi called Laura and asked her if she would seriously be interested in trying out for and potentially playing for the Whale. At this point, I had never seen Laura play (goalie) before, besides on an old DVD from her Quinnipiac days. I had seen her give goalie lessons before, but this was totally different. She kept insisting that she was retired, but I really don’t think she had much of a choice in the matter. That’s because there was no way that I wouldn’t have made her go to the tryouts! I was packed and ready to go watch them, before she could even pack her bags for the weekend. Fast-forward to today, she’s been with the Whale ever since; as a goalie during year 2 and 3 and as part of the coaching staff for years 4 and 5."
"The Whale have always been the underdogs, year after year which make them even more of an exciting team to watch and root for. Even with the changing roster, they’ve always been a team that play their hearts out and don’t give up regardless of what is thrown at them. I respect the players’ determination, commitment and willingness to do what it takes to hang with the best of them. Seeing the coaching side of it, I am in awe of the time and dedication that the coaches invest in their team.. In terms of the NWHL as a whole, I think it’s incredible that Dani Rylan was able to create the first women’s league that was able to pay their players. I’ve enjoyed watching it grow each season despite setbacks and outside influences. The league as a whole has proven to be resilient, kind of like the Whale!"
"I think that the league, the individual teams and players are all a great example of women’s empowerment. They are teaching future draft picks how to fight for what you want and what you believe in. It’s great to see little girls and boys at games, looking up to the players and wanting to be like them when they grow up. As a teacher, you can preach all you want to kids about how to be perseverant, to work hard and to work together and problem solve with others, etc. But here, seeing it in person is way more effective. During year 2, one of the little girls in my class was an honorary captain and to see firsthand how excited she was to not only be around the players, but also on the ice with them, was awesome to watch. I’m hoping that each new season brings more exposure for the league, and with that, new fans. Everyone that I’ve brought to games has commented on how impressed they are with the skill level of the teams in the league and how fun the games are to watch."
"Laura jokes around all of the time that I’m more obsessed with hockey than she is. Seeing that she is from Minnesota, you can probably guess how invested I am in her team as well as the league! I go to every home Whale game and try to go to as many away games as possible. If I’m not at the games, I’m watching them on Twitch (and also periodically yelling at the tv!). Ever since that first game that we went to, I’ve tried to learn all about the game as a whole. I remember seeing the goalie leave the ice during a game in year 2 and wondering what was wrong with her (was she injured? Did something happen that I didn’t see?) and being totally confused. I’ve now been watching the game long enough to know that duh-it was a delayed penalty! I also remember wondering why hockey players take such short shifts but quickly realized why after playing 3-on-3 for the first time and feeling like I was going to die 20 seconds in. I’m not quite ready to be on the ice making calls but my hockey knowledge has definitely improved since then."
"Not only have I tried to learn more about hockey, I have also made it a mission to learn how to play. When I met Laura, I knew how to skate (not well) but had never really been too interested on getting on the ice at the Fairfield Ice Academy (where she is the director). One night shortly after I met her, she had invited me to come out and skate with some people and I almost had a panic attack once I was standing there in the middle of the ice with huge men and women whizzing by me. I lasted maybe all of five minutes and then decided I didn’t want to get hurt and that she was insane for even suggesting I come out there. After watching the Whale play, they have inspired me to get out on the ice and try it for myself. A few years ago, the mother of a child in my class asked me to sub for someone on her hockey team during a tournament, after finding out that I had been learning how to play hockey. At that point, I had just started learning and even though the chance of me playing was already very slim, once I mentioned it to Sam Faber. And she was trying to encourage me to go, by telling me that she would also be playing in that same tournament, it was definitely a hard no! That would’ve been very embarrassing! "
Cetacean Nation thanks Brooke Brennan for her unique, insightful , and entertaining content! Along with the rest of Cetacean Nation, she’ll be cheering hard for the Pod starting Friday night, and all through the playoffs. Fins Up to that! 🐳