On a recent episode of “The Newman Bond” podcast, local photographer Richard Rico shared his passion for photography in general, but more specifically photographing Newman University athletics events.
Originally from Mulvane, Kansas, Rico grew up in a Catholic family, graduated from high school in 1970 and attended trade school at Pittsburg State University. When he left home, his interest in film photography peaked and he found himself photographing his younger brother’s football games.
He did sports photography around the Mulvane area over the next few years but slowed down when he got married in 1979.
A few years ago, when Rico retired, he picked up his camera again with gusto.
The pandemic limited Rico’s travels to Oklahoma, where he had spent time photographing athletic events for Northern Oklahoma College. Rico instead looked for sports photography opportunities closer to home in Kansas.
That’s what led him to Newman.
In the past three years, if you’ve seen any athletics posts on the university’s Facebook, Instagram or other social accounts, you’ve probably seen the work of Rico.
One of his most recent adventures was to Newman’s first ever trip to the MIAA Women’s Basketball Championships in Kansas City.
“It was exciting,” Rico said. “To be able to capture that moment during our first year at that event and capture it for the coaches and the girls is very rewarding for me.”
At any sporting event, Rico also enjoys capturing the cheer squad.
“I’ve done a lot of cheerleader pictures because I think they’re a big part of the energy that gives the team and the school spirit,” he shared. “Those cheerleaders work as hard as the athletes do. I’ve come to know them pretty well, and they’re just outstanding people. They work really hard and come up with injuries just like the athletes do. And I love to capture the excitement of the crowd during the game.”
The very first sports Rico ever shot for at Newman were softball and baseball.
“I’m a big baseball fan, so that was my natural attraction to come to that,” he said.
This year alone, Rico has photographed every sport except for one.
“Newman has kept me very busy,” he joked.
The reason he’s so dedicated to photographing for the university is because of his respect for student-athletes. Rico has also raised seven kids of his own, so he knows the importance of photos to families and the athletes themselves.
“I know what those pictures mean to a mother, a father, grandmother, grandfather, aunts, uncles and to those kids,” he said. “When you’re looking at a picture, are you looking to see it crystal clear? You’re not looking for that. You’re looking for a memory that brings a warm feeling to your heart.”
Rico added that he gets a lot of energy from the student-athletes, so being able to provide a memory for them means a lot to him.
“I’m very humbled that God has provided me with a talent to be able to do that,” he said. “I get a lot more blessings out of doing this than what I put into it. I feel like Newman University is a family to me now, and I love coming here.”
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