2023 Year In Review

Each year TTL Sports Media covers many dozens of sporting competitions in Central Texas, which are comprised of hundreds of unique moments and thousands of special images.  These are some of the most memorable moments from those events.  We hope you enjoy them now, as much as we did then.  

January 1, 2023 - We began 2023 with the Austin Spurs and Blake Wesley putting up two of his 14 points under the reach of  Chance Comanche. Unfortunately, the Spurs fell to the Stockton Kings, 108-94, that night.  It was a difficult year for Austin, finishing the regular season with an 8-24 record, 27th out of 30 team in the Conference.  

January 17, 2023 - The Texas Stars know how to take care of their fans.  This player / coach autograph session was one of many fan events designed to strengthen the relationship between the team and their fans. And you can tell from the glow in the eyes of this young fan, it works.  

January 20, 2023 - Competing on a field-of-play has many things in common to battling in a combat zone.  The Austin Spurs  honored our veterans with “Hoops for Troops” fallen 13 Heroes that were tragically lost on August 26, 2021 in the evacuation of Kabul. 

January 25, 2023 – Vic Shaefer is known for being a hard-driving coach who is striving for perfection.  This is one of just two known images of Schaefer smiling on the floor during a game.  Here, he celebrates Oklahoma's shot-clock expiring.  Texas went on to defeat OU, 78-58.  

January 28, 2023 – Rori Harmon and Coach Vic Schaefer have one of the most special relationships in college basketball.  They share common views of accountability and excellence in execution.  This image looks like a “father know best conversation” with the daughter asking and the father responding, “I don’t think so.”

February 3, 2023 – Curtis McKenzie is the fiercest competitors on the ice, and one of the nicest guys off.  Here, a linesman restrains McKenzie as tempers grew short between the benches of the Texas Stars and the Grand Rapid Griffins.

February 18, 2023 - This may fall under the category of "Mama, don't let your boys grow up to be cowboys."  This cowboy, standing atop the chutes of the Professional Bull Rider (PBR) Velocity Tour, looks like he’s had one too many bull rides.  

February 21, 2023 – It seems like the college baseball season starts when there still is snow on the ground, at least further north.  Here, Josh Caraway throws-out Jared Thomas on a bunt in Texas’ first home game against Texas A&M Corpus Christi.  

March 3, 2023 – I’ve been covering AHL hockey for eight seasons, and this was my first goaltender fight.  There were 92 total penalty minutes, 3 game misconducts, 2 misconducts and 4 fighting penalties in the game between the Texas Stars and the Milwaukee Admirals.  

March 13, 2023 –This is a picture of the stairwell leading from the Texas Rangers’ club house at camp. I was invited to cover the Texas Rangers spring training camp.   The Ranger went on to win their first World Series championship. I had never before been to spring training, and the Rangers had never before won a World Series. I've already been invited to my second Rangers spring training camp.  Does this mean  the Rangers are on their way to winning a second World Series?

March 20, 2023 – Texas was playing Louisville in the second round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship. The Moody Center went as silent as Rori Harmon fell to the floor.  Here, Coach Zack Zillner carries Rori Harmon off of the court.  Texas went on to lose to, 73 – 51.

March 22, 2023 – This may not be the most flattering of pictures (our apologies for that), but it was a first for the H-E-B Center.  Here, assistant coach Jessica Campbell was behind the bench in the game between the Texas Stars and the Coachella Valley Firebirds.  Campbell is the first woman behind the bench as a full-time coach in the AHL.

April 8, 2023 – Q2 Stadium went quiet as Mallory Swanson is taken from the pitch in the match between the United States Women’s National Team and the Republic of Ireland.  Swanson sustained a season ending dislocated patella. Swanson has been a fixture on the US team since 2016. Ironically, her first cap for the USWNT was against Ireland on January 23, 2016.

April 14, 2023 – The Circuit of the Americas had been one of the best kept secrets in Austin, until recently.  Appreciation of the track took-off with the introduction of the Netflix series, Drive to Survive.  This iconic view is looking up Turn 10 during the MotoGP Red Bull Grand Prix.

April 22, 2023 – Josh Johnson (JJ) is one of the greatest coaches in baseball.  Fans and players of the Round Rock Express adore the Development Coach for his warmth, humor, and insight into the game.  This is a view of  J.P. Martinez stealing second base from between JJ’s legs during the game against the Albuquerque Isotopes.

April 29, 2023 – Willie Nelson is one of Austin’s most favorite sons.  The revered singer / songwriter has been known for this Fourth of July Picnics since their inception in 1972.  Nelson’s picnics are currently hosted by Q2 Stadium, home of the Austin FC.  Here, the Austin FC honored Nelson’s birthday with this tifo in their match against the San Jose Earthquakes.

May 16, 2023 – Women continue to chip-away at the glass ceiling, and baseball is no exception.  Here home plate umpire Jennifer (Jen) Pawol calls a third strike against a Round Rock Express batter in the game against the El Paso Chihuahuas.  Pawol may become the first woman umpire in MLB.

May 17, 2023 – Hockey players are some of the fiercest and physical competitors around.  I can feel the intensity as I stand between the benches photographing the games.  But the players are also good people, too, as seen as Tanner Kero visits with his family during the playoff game warmups between the Texas Stars and the Milwaukee Admirals.

May 17, 2023 – Oh. So. Close.  Texas Stars’ goalkeeper Matt Murray can't stop the game-tying shot by Egor Afanasyev of the Milwaukee Admirals.  The Admirals went on to win game 3, and eventually the Western Conference Championship series.  

May 24, 2023 – European football (aka, soccer), like American football, is a full-contact sport.  Here, Austin FC’s Jhojan Valencia and  Chicago Fire’s Federicio Navarro collide and tumble to the ground after battling for the header.  Austin also tumbled to the ground, falling to the Fire, 2-0.

June 18, 2023 – A baseball media director told me that fans come to Major League Baseball games to cheer for their teams, and fans come to Minor League Baseball game for the entertainment.  Here a fan enjoys a cool water balloon catch on a hot summer’s day.

June 24, 2023 – The backdrop on this shot couldn’t be better.  Austin FC’s Julio Cascante celebrates his goal against the Houston Dynamo in-sync with the video board.  Austin went on to defeat the Houston 3-0.

July 5, 2023 – Some fans pay more attention to their smartphones than they do the game. Here, a fan comes close to getting beaned by a foulball as Sugar Land Space Cowboys catcher Cesar Salazar tries to make  the play. 

July 9, 2023  - Beforegetting called up by the Texas Rangers, Jonathan Ornelas of the Round Rock Express had a ritual where  before each game he would receive beads from a fan.  He would wear the set that best matched hisuniform, and share the rest with teammates in the dugout.

July 18, 2023 – Baseball players generally like getting their picture taken; but some baseball coaches, not so much.  Here’s a great shot of Round Rock Express pitching coach Dave Borkowski putting on his game face before a game against the Reno Aces. 

August 10, 2023 – Minor league pitchers never seem to stay for long.  They either get called up by the parent club, or set down for more  development.  The exception was Round Rock Express’ RobertDugger.  Dugger was named the 2023 PCLPost-Season All-Star, after leading the Express with 29 starts, 146.1 inningspitched and 143 strikeouts. Here Dugger earn the win against the Albuquerque Isotopes, going a season-high seven innings, scattering six hits, allowing one run, striking out five and walking two.

August 23, 2023 – Baseball teams are chocked full oftradition.  One tradition I most like isthe Round Rock Express’ wearing of their mascot’s hat after hitting a home run.The accomplishment is then memorialized with the taking of an instamatic picture.  Here Davis Wendzel celebrates his 25th  home run of the season.

August 23, 2023 – Elier Hernandez is an accomplished, fan-friendly, yet understated, professional playing in the Texas Rangers franchise.  His achievements were recognized, being named the 2023 Round Rock Express Most Valuable Player.  Elier led the club in doubles, RBIs, runs scored, hits, and games played, and set a club record with his 26-game hitting streak.  Hernandez is shown here in the game against the Salt Lake Bees. You got a lot to smile about, my friend. 

September 7, 2023 – Defensive players are not known for scoring goals, especially in women’s collegiate soccer. You can only imagine the excitement when Lauren Lapomarda, a fourth-year starting Senior, scored her first goal. She leapt into the arms of teammate Avery Clark, was then surrounded by her teammates on the pitch, then sprinted across the pitch to her team’s bench.  Texas went on to  defeat Stephen F. Austin by a score of 7-0.

September 17, 2023 – A little kid has a hard time concealing their emotions, especially when their favorite team is involved.  Here a fan reacts to a goal by the opponents, giving them a 1-0 lead over  the Austin FC. The opponents, the Portland Timber, went on to win 2-1.  Austin had a very disappointing season this year, finishing 12th out of 14 teams in the MLS Western Conference with arecord of 10 wins, 15 losses and 9 draws.

October 4, 2023 - Matthew McConaughey, and Camila Alves, made a surprise appearance at the match between the Austin FC and DC United.  Here they are shown watching their son take practice goal kicks before the game against DC United.  McConaughey, better known as an actor and Minister of Culture at the University of Texas, is also a minority owner of the Austin FC.  McConaughey’s presence may have spurred to the team to a 3-0 victory.

October 13, 2023 – I’ve never seen so much pain on a player's face as when Gavin Bayreuther went down in the game between the Texas Stars and theTucson Roadrunners.  Bayreuther, shown being supported by goalkeeper Remi Poirier, shattered his ankle in the first game, and is out for the remainder of the season.

November 1, 2023 – The Texas women’s soccer team were late bloomers this season.  The team finished 4thin the Big 12 Conference regular season with a pedestrian record of 6-3-1.  But the team came alive in the Big 12 Championship.  Here, Trinity Byars scores the match's only goal, punching the Longhorns' ticket to the Big 12 Championshipfinals.

November 4, 2023 – Lexi Missimo comes from a soccer family, and it shows.  She is first student-athlete in UT and Big 12 history to record a 15-goal, 15-assist as wellas a 20-goal, 20-assist season.  She is the latest member of the 40-goal, 40-assist club in Division I women's soccer.  She became the first-ever student-athlete to lead the Big 12 Conference in every individual offensive statistical category.  And she became just the fifth Division I women's soccer student-athlete since 2000 to score 72-or-more points in a single season. And she is only a junior.  Here, DerekMissimo congratulates his daughter Lexi on Texas' winning the Big 12 Soccer Championship.

November 25, 2023 – It was a record setting year for theTexas State University Bobcat football team. Texas State clinched their first bowl game by defeating the University of South Alabama, 52-44.  Here, KoleWilson pulls in the eventual game-winning touchdown.  The Bobcat went on to win the First Responders Bowl on December 26, 2023, defeating Rice University 45-21.

December 3, 2023 – Rori Harmon congratulates teammate Madison Booker on their 80-68 victory over the University of Connecticut Huskies. This was Texas’ first program win over UConn.  "I think she's the best player we'veplayed against so far this year, by far," said UConn head coach Geno Auriemmaof Harmon. "I was really impressed with the control that she has ofherself and the game. There was very rarely a time when she's trying to make aplay that isn't the right play at that time. And she takes shots that she knows she can make. I was really, really impressed."

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