BGSU alumnus Isaiah Vazquez '20 is currently gaining professional internship experience with Clarkson Creative, a leading creative company known for sports photography. As part of his duties, Vazquez photographed the Final Four in New Orleans.

BGSU grad has ‘One Shining Moment’ at 2022 Final Four

Isaiah Vazquez ’20 lands professional internship with Clarkson Creative, bringing him to center of NCAA championships

By Nick Piotrowicz

Just minutes before CBS aired its annual “One Shining Moment” montage at the end of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, Bowling Green State University alumnus Isaiah Vazquez ’20 photographed one of the tournament’s signature images —an experience that ironically became his own moment to shine.

Through a professional internship with Clarkson Creative, a leading photography service known for its expertise shooting sporting events, Vazquez will cover multiple NCAA championships this year.

At the conclusion of the NCAA Tournament, Vazquez was front and center at the Caesar’s Superdome in New Orleans, which played host to the 2022 men’s Final Four. He had played various roles for Clarkson’s creative teams throughout the tournament, but found himself capturing an iconic shot of the biggest moment in the tournament.

A thrilling title game between Kansas and North Carolina saw the Jayhawks storm back from a 16-point deficit to take the lead, after which the Tar Heels needed a 3-pointer in the final seconds to force overtime. Guard Caleb Love, who had been instrumental during UNC’s surprise run, missed the shot, leading to Vazquez capturing the essence of March Madness: Jubilation on one side, anguish on the other.

His photo of Love surrounded by celebrating Jayhawks was shared far and wide, used by national outlets ranging from ESPN to Forbes to Bleacher Report.

NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - National Championship
North Carolina guard Caleb Love walks off the court as Kansas players celebrate following the Jayhawks' 72-69 victory in the national championship game at the Superdome in New Orleans. Isaiah Vazquez / NCAA Photos via Getty Images

For someone who grew up loving sports and honed his photography craft in the BGSU Visual Communication Technology program, the experience of covering a Final Four felt like a dream for Vazquez.

“It was like, ‘This is the moment I’ve been waiting for and the first part of the dream,’” he said. “Since I started my career, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and I got to live it. Seeing all of it was just incredible.”

During his time at BGSU, Vazquez took full advantage of the many opportunities on campus for a photography student to get involved. He served as the photo editor for the BG News on campus, shot on assignment for the Sentinel-Tribune and had an internship with the BGSU Office of Marketing and Brand Strategy. 

Vazquez immersed himself in learning beyond the classroom, photographing the BGSU men’s and women’s soccer teams win Mid-American Conference championships, the football team’s 2019 upset of Toledo and other events like the MAC basketball tournaments. 

BGSU Photography Director Craig Bell said Vazquez showed a natural ability to photograph sporting events.

"From the beginning, I knew that Isaiah had a passion for photography, and especially for sports photography," Bell said. "His enthusiasm was infectious, and his talents for capturing peak sports action was clearly evident from the first football game he covered for Marketing and Brand Strategy.

"I’ve been fortunate to work with some exceptional students over the years, and Isaiah is definitely one of our best sport shooters and photographers to work in the photography department."

Vazquez performed a number of tasks during the tournament for Clarkson, ranging from mounting cameras in the catwalks and inside of the hoops, photographing the first round game between Indiana-St. Mary's from the sideline in Portland, running memory cards back and forth, capturing locker room scenes and editing photos that traveled over the wire and reached millions of people. 

While at the United Center in Chicago, Vazquez was in the locker room to capture the celebration of former BGSU coach Jim Larranaga's Miami Hurricanes, who defeated Southern California to advance to the school's first ever Elite Eight.

Miami players drench coach Jim Larranaga after the Hurricanes defeated USC in the Sweet Sixteen. Isaiah Vazquez / NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Vazquez nabbing so many memorable shots during the NCAA Tournament was no surprise to those who knew him at BGSU, Bell said.

"Isaiah has a keen eye for composition, similar to a professional with many years of experience," Bell said. "His ability with a camera and the exceptional images he created at BGSU graced our websites and news stories, Athletic website and publications, social media and various printed pieces for Admissions and other programs across campus."

As someone who found his niche in the sports world, Vazquez said walking into the Superdome for the Final Four was a surreal experience. 

“I don’t think anything surpassed walking into the Caesar’s Superdome for the first time, seeing the floor and watching them convert the dome into a basketball court,” Vazquez said. “You knew it was going to house 75,000 people. It was incredible going out onto the court and seeing the seats just endlessly go up, then realizing you’re at the center of it. It was a beautiful sight to see.”

When Vazquez landed the internship, he said he knew he had to drop everything and go for a lifelong dream. He moved across the country to Denver and said the experience so far has been everything he has wanted and more.

“I ended up completely turning everything on its head and telling everyone, ‘Hey, I’ve got a place to be and I’m going for it,’” Vazquez said. “It was a pretty awesome internship, and I knew the experience would be invaluable.”

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Updated: 04/20/2022 04:15PM