Softball Through A Zoom Lens: John W Cox & Houston Sports
That’s the number of pictures that John W Cox III has uploaded to his Facebook page over the past few years. The vast majority of those pictures came from various softball tournaments, the Montrose Softball League in Houston, other Houston LGBT sports leagues and other sporting events in general.
Let us all take a minute to wrap our brains around that number from the start of this article. 93,865. The sheer number is staggering, but that number goes deeper than just numerical value. Those pictures tell the story of a labor of love and passion that John has for Houston area sports and gay athletics overall. It didn’t take long for John to get hooked on supporting the Montrose Softball League and gay softball in general.
“I was on the board of a non-profit organization that raises money for local LGBT organizations and a fellow board member knew I photographed fun runs and he asked me to come photograph his softball team,” said Cox. The pictures taken at first weren’t always the best according to him, but with time Cox sharpened his skills and has since taken some of the best action photos of NAGAAA sanctioned events that are available for public consumption. “That first year, I would photograph behind the fence, photos were not as sharp and clear, since then I shoot on the field either from the dugouts or on the other side of the dugouts,” added Cox.
The attention to detail that John has radiates through the many incredible pictures he has in his collection, but one style of photo is his all time favorite. “The one shot I always try to get at a tournament or in league play is the team photo. I will take several shots and then have the team do a fun picture at the end,” Cox stated. If his pictures weren’t enough to explain that he’s a professional in every way his precise following of which teams are participating at a tournament should help bring it into focus (pun intended!). “I create a list of all the teams and do a check off so I know who I need to photograph,” said Cox.
While his home league in regard to softball is the Montrose Softball League, John has found himself all over the country supporting and enhancing gay athletics. “I usually do 3 softball tournaments and maybe 1 flag football tournament a year, Bourbon Street Classic in New Orleans, the St. Patty’s Day weekend tournament in Houston and the Texas Shootout in Austin,” Cox said. In addition to those yearly events, Mr. Cox has photographed the Gay Bowl flag football tourney in Houston and the Pride Bowl in Chicago. He has also photographed Houston teams at the Gay Softball World Series in Chicago (2011) and at last year’s event in Washington, DC for the softball league in Houston. “At the tournaments it is like a ‘family’ reunion. A lot of players know each other from various tournaments and years of playing against each other and I like to take shots of friends together from various teams,” said Cox.
The reputation John has for his photography work has him in demand for more than just sporting events. “It has led me to do several same-sex weddings and engagement photos over the past year. With the changes going on across the country now, equality for everyone is happening, even here in Texas,” stated Cox.
As impressive as this man’s work is, it is clear that this is more than just a hobby for the Houston native. There is a method to his photographic madness. “The reason why I spend 8 plus weeks every Spring and 6 plus weeks every Fall to photograph softball and flag football leagues is to show that the LGBT sports leagues are just as good and competitive as mainstream leagues,” Cox said.
A man with conviction and purpose, making softball tournaments and leagues pop with his pictures, John Cox is a great ally to NAGAAA softball and to gay athletics in general. When you’ve had your team photo or action shot photographed by John, you know you’ve been photographed by the best.
At left: One of the many famous John W Cox team photos.
At right: Cox snapped a shot of a home plate slide during the end of season tournament in Houston.