Welcome back everyone to the 3rd riveting installment of my search for sporting bliss. I come to you today from Cub Cadet Field on the campus of Akron University in Akron, Ohio. This is home to the Akron Zips Men’s Soccer team, arguably the best soccer team in the area and they showed it tonight as they faced the Bulls of South Florida University.
Soccer or association football as most of the rest of the world calls it, is a sport that sadly has not taken much of a hold here in the States. It is a sport that, though gaining some ground, still finds itself in the “also-rans” category when it comes to sports. I think that’s a shame and to prove it, me and my buddy decided to go see an Akron Zips Men’s Soccer game. Why the Akron Zips, you say? Well, it was only about a half-hour drive and the Zips Men’s Soccer team is arguably one of the best collegiate soccer teams in the country. They have been dominant in the conference and regularly get players drafted into the professional leagues.
Along the way to the game, we took several detours (see next week’s awesome locations article on the sad tale of the Akron “Rubberbowl”). We were surprised when we got to the field and saw that our seats were about ten feet from the field (and the goal for that matter). It made for some really good action shots like these:
As always, I had my trusty Minolta X-370 with me. I was lucky that I brought my LOMO 800 film (available at your friendly neighborhood LOMO shop) with me because it got dark really quickly and my Kodak Gold 200 was just far too slow. I went from a 15-30 shutter speed at 1.7f with the Kodak Gold 200 to getting about a 125 shutter speed with the 800 LOMO film. It made a world of difference.
What struck me at the game was the relaxed nature that I have come to expect at Minor League sporting events but not at a college event. Normally, you have the loud, raucous kids but it wasn’t that way (though there were some “AK Rowdies” on the opposite goal). And while there were no crazy fans, it did not mean that we weren’t completely without excitement. Several times an errant ball came whizzing past our heads. One of them would have smacked me right in the noggin if not for a well placed handrail (my compliments to the facility).
Overall, it was an event that got us closer to the action than any other sporting event I have ever been to. I mean, how often do you get to be basically an arm’s length from the goalkeeper? I like moments like that. It makes you realize that you don’t have to go see a pro event with tens of thousands of fans to get the true game experience.
So join me next time when I tell you the sad tale of the Akron “Rubberbowl” and the fate that became it. You won’t want to miss it.
And as always,
PS. The Zips crushed it that night blanking the Bulls 5-0.
.bq Tim Pawlak (aka 110isnotdead on LOMO) is a librarian, writer, photographer and amateur historian (gotta use that History Degree somewhere). Massillon, Ohio (about an hour south of Cleveland) is where he calls home. He loves to get the feel of every new town he comes to and capture it on film. So if you make your way down the Tuscarawas River, you’ll probably find him.