Jon Michael Kondrath can be found either playing, refereeing or capturing photos during the ZogSportsLA season. Now he gives Zoggers a glimpse into his life as an ultimate Zogger:
As a youngster in middle school and high school, I always loved playing sports and taking photos. I did both as hobbies and for fun; I didn’t like playing on varsity because it was too competitive and my photos went as far as yearbooks and school papers. After high school, I expected my sporting days were over and I fell out of photography for a time.
Both sports and photography reentered my life several years ago, because of volleyball (finding a pickup game which lead into social sports and attending a USC volleyball game which lead into sports photography). Social sports brought back what I loved about playing sports when I was young, playing a game with friends.
Over the years, I’ve met many great people and good friends through social sports. I’ve played in different leagues and different sports. Some were great for a while and then fell apart, others didn’t feel like the right fit, and some sports I just wasn’t that into the league.
As one of the leagues I was previously in was slowly spiraling downward, I was introduced to Zog in its second season in LA. That season was a trial period, test out this new kid in town and see what it’s made of. I knew what a good social league could be and should be, so I had high expectations.
Although some of my teammates were skeptical of the league, I immediately fell in love with it. New people gathering for sports and for social interaction afterwards, a league that cares about its players and the greater community, and something I hadn’t seen before – photos posted of us playing. I’m used to taking photos for USC and posting those, because they are a big school with athletes who have dedicated their lives to a sport. But, here we are, social sports enthusiasts, with a chance of having a moment of glory captured and forever immortalized.
In my next season, I immediately immersed myself in the league. I joined all four of the sports offered in Los Angeles and became a ref for beach volleyball (because who wouldn’t want to spend more time out on the beach?). During the beach volleyball season, I would bring my camera gear with me on occasion because I would have it for the weekend due to some sporting event I was shooting. I didn’t know who the Zogsports photographer was or if they would show up to our games, so I figured I would take some photos and share them with my teammates and the friends I was making. After posting some on Facebook, the LA General Manager asked if he could post them on the Zog Facebook page. I have no shame in admitting I love to see my photos posted up by others and seen by as many people as possible.
Enter season three with Zog, and I am now taking photos at as many of the games as I can. Some weekends my gear isn’t available or I may be too busy to take photos, but otherwise my camera is out capturing moments of athleticism, victory, and camaraderie. Every weekend, I meet new people who come up to me to say they saw a photo I took of them. Sometimes the comment is about the funny face they are making and to “next time get a photo when I’m looking better.” Other times it’s pure excitement for snapping the lucky moment of a game-winning play. Most of the time it’s to say thank you because they enjoyed looking at the photos. (I have no shame in admitting I love the Facebook likes and the positive comments of perfectly captured action, as well. So keep them coming!)
The reason I love photography, and social sports, is the sharing. Sure I love being complimented on a great photo or a great play on the field. But more importantly, I play sports and take photos for the interaction. Playing sports in a league where people show up and then go home, or only interact with their own team to practice and play in the game, is not fun for me. In a similar fashion, photography would not be enjoyable if I just took the photos and then kept them to myself. It’s the people that make both so precious to me: the people I play with, the people I socialize with on and off the field, and the people that are sharing and enjoying the photos. I am happy to have found ZogSports and its community of players and staff and I am proud to be able to contribute to the growth of the league in Los Angeles.