2023: The Year in Photos
A photographic look back at the year that was in Virginia athletics through the lenses of Matt Riley and the Virginia creative team.
The Hoos returned to John Paul Jones Arena for the first time in the New Year with a 73-66 victory over Syracuse. The win marked the 327th Virginia career win for Tony Bennett, the winningest coach in program history.
John Paul Jones Arena has seen its fair share of celebrity guests through the years. Ty Jerome returned with some high profile teammates in tow to see the Hoos dismantle the Hokies in January.
Women’s tennis opened the 2023 season hosting in-state rivals Richmond and JMU. Early season matchups provide an opportunity for photographers to experiment with different techniques and expand their creative skillsets. Here, pops of foreground color are used to add contrast in an otherwise uniform setting.
MEM GYM MEMORIES
Justin McCoy would go on to win the ACC crown at 165, but first was a memorable senior night at Mem Gym. McCoy pinned Gabe Dinette on the way to a 45-3 victory over Duke.
There’s always a little extra excitement when the blue bloods come to town and the mid-February matchup was no different. The Hoos took down the Blue Devils 69-62 in OT powered by a late defensive stand and clutch shot making by Virginia veterans. The offensive side is usually prioritized by photographers, but in this case provided a great look at the end of game defensive sequence that set college basketball social media ablaze.
LEADER OF THE PACK
Women’s Basketball followed up the men’s victory over a Tobacco Road foe with one of their own. Just a day after the JPJ barnburner against Duke, the Hoos defeated the No. 22 Wolfpack for the program’s first over a ranked program since 2017. The joy of London Clarkson and Camryn Taylor following the victory was contagious.
The Hoos gave a glimpse of the season to come on an unseasonably warm day in mid-February. The bats were hot in a 14-run 5th inning against Navy, marking the highest single-inning run total in the O’Connor era. Capturing the national pastime is always a mix of traditional imagery and creative angles, seen here through the lens of longtime athletics photographer Matt Riley.
THRICE AS NICE
The performances and accomplishments of Virginia student-athletes never cease to amaze even the most experienced of us. Virginia swimming & diving is a program that continues to build on its already world-class status, winning the program’s third consecutive national title in March. We are in awe of the accomplishment and can’t wait to see what the Hoos have in store for 2024, both on the collegiate and world stages.
Connor Shellenberger will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest lacrosse players to grace the grounds of the University of Virginia. Here in a late winter home opener, the light and shadows fell just right to illuminate the Cavalier great.
Virginia earned a share of the program’s 11th regular season conference title after coasting to a victory over Louisville on Senior Day. Following the game, a traditional ceremony became a little more special as student manager Anna Williamson cut the final piece of net. The fourth-year student was born with spina bifida, a birth defect which renders her paralyzed below the knee. That never stood in the way of her doing her job as manager though as Anna is the personification on Bennett’s pillar of Servanthood. Our task as creatives is to tell stories through images, and Anna’s in simply one of the best.
“And Boggs is going to break to the plate…the play…SAFE! Leah Boggs scores the winning run and Virginia’s going to beat Virginia Tech here in the 8th!”
The Cavaliers slam the door on the Hokies in the 2nd half in securing their 10th Commonwealth Clash point.
Ricky Miezan lays the lumber in the Hoos’ victory over ‘Cuse.
Rain nor sun, nor Florida heat could derail the Cavaliers from repeating as national champions.
A CUT ABOVE
Virginia golf will return in the spring of 2024 hoping to build upon historically strong performances in 2023. Led by All-Americans Amanda Sambach and Ben James, each program has eyes on deep postseason runs. There’s not a better shooting assignment than an afternoon in the sun at Birdwood.
The Hoos returned to Omaha and the College World Series with a Super Regional victory over ACC-rival Duke. Dogpiles are one of if not the most chaotic celebrations in sport and require numerous photographers to capture the entirety of the scene. Heads (and lenses) on a swivel!
So. Many. G.O.A.T.S
“Greatest of All Time” can be an over-used moniker, but Kate Douglass and Jake Gelof are truly Virginia G.O.A.T.S. The two good sports teamed up with Ralph Sampson, Tony Bennett, and Carla Williams for some specialty shoots cooked up by Virginia creative. *No student-athletes or animals were harmed in the production of these images.
SOMETHING IN THE ORANGE (&BLUE)
Golden hour in Charlottesville:
Virginia Football returned to the field to play and honor the memories of Lavel Davis Jr., D’Sean Perry, and Devin Chandler. We found strength in not only the return to competition, but the collective support of Wahoo Nation, which came together in celebration of the legacies of 1, 15, & 41.
Stephen Annor Gyamfi exploded onto the scene for the Cavaliers, scoring a team-high 10 goals and garnering the true freshman 1st team All-ACC honors. There was always a chance for a chance and no opportunity for photographers to rest, lest they miss a patented gymnastic celebration. Capturing these moments is part creativity, but perhaps a larger part preparation and positioning.
Maggie Cagle put the finishing touches on a 3-0 victory over the Hokies to claim the women’s soccer Commonwealth Clash point for the Hoos. This photo was part of a “burst” sequence utilized for a social media hype video, made possible by mirrorless, electronic shutter camera technology that enables continuous shooting of up to 30 frames per second. Photo and video mediums continue to overlap in the creative space.
Charlottesville and Panorama Farms was the center of the cross country universe this November as UVA hosted the 2023 NCAA Championships. Over 7.500 athletes, staff, and fans packed the venue off Earlysville road. The atmosphere was second-to-none and afforded numerous opportunities for our creative team to capture promotional images such as the silhouette below.
Graduate transfer Malik Washington re-wrote the record books on his way to all-ACC and all-america honors. All of his dynamic skills were on display in an October upset in Chapel Hill. He and the Cavaliers were simply not going to be denied in what was a cathartic and thrilling victory.
It is seemingly every fall that sees winter and spring Cavalier programs honored for national championships. Men’s tennis and women’s swimming & diving celebrated in style.
OLD RIVALRY, NEW VENUE
Virginia volleyball took the show on the road, or at least north a couple of blocks, when they squared off with Virginia Tech at JPJ. A record Virginia crowd saw the Hoos complete the reverse sweep in a thrilling 5-set victory. New lighting, new angles, and renewed energy all led to some great imagery.
The sophomore offered some flashes of his big play ability a season ago but has been a more frequent flier in 2023. The challenge is keeping him in frame, as student photog Grace Landini can tell you.
A COLLABORATIVE EFFORT
As the calendar year comes to a close, we reflect on the year that was and the teamwork required to cover the 27 programs of Virginia Athletics. We celebrate not only the amazing 17-year career of outgoing director of photography Matt Riley, but also the supremely talented and professional student photographers that have developed under his tutelage. We extend hearty thanks and admiration to the team of photographers, video-producers-turned-photographers, freelancers, and athletic communications personnel that tell the visual stories of Virginia Athletics. None of this happens without dedication to the craft and an enduring love for the University of Virginia. Thanks to Matt, Josie, Catey, Grace, Proud, and the rest of the Virginia creatives. There is amazing work yet to be done and championships yet to be won. 2024 is here, so let’s all join hands, and give a yell… WAHOOWA!