By John Grossi
Photo by Monique Kuhlman
As a freshman playing football at St. John Bosco, Alex Diaz had size, talent, and a “hyper-fixation,” as he called it, on the sport. It was new to him and he couldn’t get enough. Every day, he looked forward to practice: the coaches, his teammates, the camaraderie, and the work ethic.
“It was really intense! But I also met some of my closest friends there [on the field]. Without a doubt, my good grades were fueled by a passion for football.” This passion carried into his sophomore year. When COVID forced Alex and his peers to stay home from school... and from practice, it was the hope of a return to football and seeing his teammates that propelled him to continue to advance in the computer science pathway during that rough year. Flash forward to graduation, Alex has committed to LSU, a university that annually boasts one of the nation’s top D1 football programs. Yet another football star launched from St. John Bosco? That is the story line Alex’s uncles envisioned back when they first encouraged him to play for Bosco in the first place.
However, Alex’s journey to Tiger Stadium (LSU’s Football Field) is not so orthodox. While he hopes to be on the football field during his college career, it will not be in a helmet and pads. No, he got into LSU and about 20 other D1 football schools by photographing the game instead of playing. Alex’s biggest triumph at St. John Bosco was learning how to remain involved with sports while fol-lowing his real passion – one that felt much more real than playing the sport himself. His passion for photography had sticking power.
A Real Passion
After two successful years of playing football, it was a commitment to academics that made Alex re-evaluate his love for football. Junior year brought the onset of AP Classes and a challenging new “Quarter System” at St. John Bosco.
After a long talk with Head Coach Jason Negro, Alex determined that football was not something he wanted to pursue long-term and so he gave up his spot on the team.
In October of his junior year, a favorite teacher, Mr. Bartlett, perhaps sensing the missing piece in Alex’s life, invited him to join the Journalism Club. Alex’s first assignment was to shoot photos at a Bosco football game. It not only felt incredible to be back on the field where so many of his closest friends were... but he realized he had a knack for photography. Alex was hooked.
From that day on, Alex recognized his real passion was photography. Working hard, he shot photos of any sport he could, wherever he needed to be. He looked up to and learned from his friend, Sean Singleton, a year older than him, and one of the best photographers Bosco had ever seen. Sean, the head football photographer for Bosco in his senior year, is now a football photographer at the University of Louisville.
By the end of junior year, Alex was beginning to see where football photography could take him. Determined to become the best photographer possible, he graciously accepted lessons from Singleton over the summer.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Alex Diaz’s hard work paid off. By fall, he had applied for and was chosen to be St. John Bosco’s official team photographer for football. He was also selected as a football manager, which meant getting to the games two hours early so he and the other managers could set up the communication portals, headsets, and other equipment.
“Something would always be going on that was making us laugh. I always looked forward to Friday night,” said Alex reflecting on the team.
Being part of both the journalism club and the circle of managers, gave Alex the very aspect of football that he had most enjoyed. The camaraderie. “There’s a little family within the managers. It’s difficult to explain—the best way to put it is, it’s a family. They gave me that extra push. I wouldn’t be here academically if I wasn’t friends with who I’m friends with.”
Moments He'll Never Forget
Sports photography already unlocked some very cool doors for Alex Diaz in his first two years of shooting. One of the most memorable was when he and a friend covered the Mater Dei game at the Rose Bowl. The field was freezing that night, so during halftime the two of them went looking for heat. They found this awesome room inside the stadium that was not only heated but also a large food buffet.. The only problem was its restricted access. It was then they noticed everyone in the room was wearing the same credentials as them. They had found the official media room and were allowed in!
There was another time when Alex was shooting photos at a Bosco basketball game and one of the team dads offered him a gig to shoot a boxing night put on by Golden Boy Productions. He spent that weekend taking professional photos for a professional boxing match with ALL the ringside access and amenities that went along with it!
Topping all the memories Alex reflected upon after an incredibly rewarding two years of sports photography, the most incredible outcome is how his experience unlocked the door to college admittance. After all the hard work, late night editing, and keeping up with school work, the college acceptances began to roll in. Louisville, LSU, Oklahoma, Alabama, Washington, WSU, Oregon, Kansas, the list went on.
“It was that extra thing I needed. It felt like I was done. Hearing back, you’re in, you’re in, you’re in. It felt amazing.”This fall, Alex will begin his freshman year at LSU pursuing a digital media major and computer science minor. He will also apply to be a football photographer.
“Photography helped me so much honestly,” reflects Alex. “Probably the best thing I’ve ever done was leaving football as a football player and coming back as a photographer. I left because football wasn’t something I wanted to do long term. When I picked up the camera, I could see myself doing it forever.”