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Model athletes: ESPN The Magazine to feature Drake football players

April 6, 2011

Closely cropped, this could be a halftime scenario: Ten football players in uniform huddle up — smashed paper cups and towels strewn about the floor. They lean forward, listening for directions on how to better position themselves. The athletes are intensely focused; a whiteboard in the room is scribbled with plays.

The players are huddled at the far end of a Bell Center racquetball court, not a locker room. And they aren’t listening to Coach Creighton. Their attention is on Kevin Miyazaki, a freelance photographer who is on campus for an ESPN The Magazine photo shoot. The pictures will run alongside an April article about the team's May 17 trip to Africa for the upcoming Global Kilimanjaro Bowl.

Athletic Director Sandy Hatfield Clubb surveys the scene with an amused smile. She laughs and tells the observers that Coach Creighton's approach to the photo shoot casting call was to ask for volunteers for an hourlong service project. These are model athletes, in more way than one.

As Miyazaki, AS'90, snaps his shutter, the image is already in his mind. He directs his subjects, moving around the makeshift photo studio.

"Seventy-one, keep your left shoulder out a little," he says.

"One of the things I learned at Drake, and it's very true, is that my job is really about problem solving," Milwaukee-based Miyazaki says. "We brought some stools in and found benches, and then it was just a matter of having enough time; a bunch of pieces coming together."

Miyazaki snaps away from his perch on a ladder as Creighton stands at the white board, gesturing at illustrations of the United States and the continent of Africa.

As coach and players contemplate their departure, the photographer reflects on his return. The shoot is Miyazaki's first time on campus in years. But ESPN The Magazine's editors didn't choose Miyazaki because he was a Drake alumnus; they picked him because he was the best person for the job.

"It was just a coincidence that it happened to be at Drake, and the photo editor was pretty thrilled to learn that I'd graduated from here," he says.

Read more about Miyazaki and his photography career in BLUE magazine online, the web component of Drake's alumni magazine.