By: Rachael Rennie
To truly understand the atmosphere at Shootout for Soldiers, you have to attend one. There’s a constant electricity in the air whether it’s during a Veterans game at opening ceremonies, or at 3 AM playing with old college friends. Even though our team works hard to capture every moment, we certainly don’t capture them all. Luckily for us, that’s where Charlie comes into play. Charlie Gressett is a retired Naval rescue diver, and currently works for the Gary Sinise Foundation. Since 2014 Charlie has spent his summers following our crew, documenting our events and informing the public on the mission of the Gary Sinise Foundation.
Charlie has attended every Shootout for Soldiers for the last two years. That’s 13 events in total – from the oceanside view in Dana Point to the unrelenting heat in Houston, Charlie has seen it all. As a photographer, he’s captured the elements that make the event so special – from the opening ceremonies and the Veterans Game to the 6 AM morning games where the sunrise plays the backdrop into the second day of lacrosse.
Charlie served in the U.S Navy from August 1995-August 1999, and exited the Navy as EW3. He served during a quieter time, between Desert Storm and 9/11 where he deployed on two 6-month tours of the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf.
In 2008 when Charlie began working on CSI New York, he became close with a member of the Gary Sinise Foundation (GSF). For the next three years Charlie volunteered his time for the foundation, shooting various events. Hired by GSF as a photographer in 2012, Charlie began capturing a number of powerful moments made possible by the foundation. One of his favorite events to shoot is the GSF’s flagship program, R.I.S.E, which builds specially adapted smart homes for severely wounded heroes and their families. Here’s a video of their most recent home dedication for USMC Corporal Garrett Jones.
Upon being named an official charity beneficiary of Shootout for Soldiers, the Gary Sinise Foundation asked Charlie to represent their foundation at our 2015 events. By traveling with Shootout for Soldiers, GSF was able to spread their mission to new audiences across the country. “The ability to advertise the foundation for a full 24 hours rather than a normal 2-3 hour event…you reach more people.”
For two years Charlie has been providing our team with great pictures at all times of the day, and all over the country. The collage below includes some of our team’s personal favorites.
But what is Charlie’s favorite picture? Well it’s this one right here.
“It’s all technical photography dork stuff, but that’s why I love it… the way it happened was just a total perfect storm. I had it on a tripod with a 10 second delay, and would hold it an arms length away, so it was about 12 feet in the air. And if after 10 seconds something cool happened…awesome! if not well I’d try again. Luckily the guys ran by me at the right second, during sunrise and it provided this one time perfect shot.”
Charlie seems to get that perfect shot quite a lot at our events. His pictures capture more than just lacrosse, they capture the atmosphere of the event that most can only experience through attending the event itself.