Trusted in the Eyes of Sports
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Trusted in the Eyes of Sports

By Maddy Cooper

“Be brash, be confident, push hard.

That’s the only way women are going to make it now, we have to be tough, we have to be strong.” 

This is the mindset of award-winning sports photographer Grace Hollars.

Hollars, a 2015 Delta High School graduate, is the lead sports photographer at the Indianapolis Star and is an Olympic Games photographer for USA Today Sports.

Swimmer in water
Grace Hollars took this photo in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. This shows Chihiro Igarashi of Japan competing in the women’s 200m freestyle relay on Tuesday, July 29, 2021, at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. (Photo by Grace Hollars)

This summer, Hollars will be shooting photos at her fourth Olympics, the 2024 Summer Games in Paris, France.

However, these Games will be different from her past ones. 

Not only will Hollars be shooting sports she’s never shot before, artistic swimming and water polo, but she’s also bringing a new level of confidence with her.

She says she’s ready to “run circles” around other photographers.

Although it sounds arrogant, she says she needs to be confident in her work.

Being a woman in such a male-dominated career, Hollars has had to learn to adapt to being ridiculed and yelled at while shooting professional games.

“I get almost kicked out of every large event in [Indianapolis] because my credentials are ‘wrong,’” Hollars says.

Regardless of how she’s treated on the sidelines, Hollars continues to do her job day in and day out.

For the past 10 years, Hollars has been entering portfolios into the Sports Photographer of the Year contest. This contest is international, and in the decades of its running, only one woman has won.

Hollars hopes to be the next.

“I want to do this, not just for me, but for other women in the field,” she says. “It’s reaffirming that women are here, and we’re being recognized.”

Along with winning Sports Photographer of the Year, Hollars aims to return to the Olympics in years to come. 

Group of photographers
Grace Hollars (center) is surrounded by male photographers during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. (Photo by Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports)

Eight years ago, she was able to attend the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil with Ball State at the Games.

BSU at the Games was a student-run news agency that covered the Olympic Games 2012 to 2020.

Then, in 2018, Hollars shot the Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, and the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan. 

Even though she’s been able to travel the world, Hollars’ favorite place to shoot is right here in her community.

“I find that the community is way happier to see me at a high school game,” Hollars says. “I’m trusted in the eyes of sports.”

Volleyball reaction
Grace Hollars captured this creative reaction photo at a volleyball sectional. Fishers Tigers setter Margo Hernandez (10) kneels down yelling after scoring a point against the Carmel Greyhounds on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, at Westfield High School in Westfield. The Fishers Tigers defeated the Carmel Greyhounds in three sets, 21, 26-24, 25-19, for the Class 4A sectional championship title. (Photo by Grace Hollars)

In addition to being trusted for high school sports, Hollars is here to show that journalism is fine. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement, invalidity and manipulation were running their course through journalism. People didn’t trust their news sites.

Hollars wants to bring honesty and transparency back through her storytelling.

She is able to do this through sports photography.

Hand on trophy
This is one of Grace Hollars’ most famous sports photos. Romain Grosjean of Switzerland reaches down to pick up his second place trophy in the Grand Prix IndyCar Series on Saturday, May 15, 2021, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Grosjean was involved in a crash during a Formula 1 race in 2020 leading to burn scars on his hands. This is Grosjean’s third start in the IndyCar series since returning to racing. (Photo by Grace Hollars)

“She has an artistic eye for what makes a good picture. She sees things from a perspective a lot of us don’t see,” says Mr. Tim Cleland, Hollars’ high school journalism teacher.

While at Delta, Hollars took every journalism class offered, including yearbook, newspaper and Eagle Zone News, Delta’s student-run news show. 

This helped set her up for her future career.

She then attended Ball State University, studying photojournalism and Women and Gender Studies, and graduated in 2019.

And now, five years later, she will be on her way to Paris, bringing her storytelling skills along with her.

However, even after over a decade as a photographer, Hollars knows she still has a lot to learn.

“Sometimes it’s an ‘I made it’, and then sometimes I’ve got a long way to go,” she says. “But that’s what makes this career so fun. You never stop learning.”

 

April 4, 2024

About Author

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maddycooper Maddy Cooper is a junior at Delta High School. She loves writing and hopes to be a sports journalist in the future. She plays tennis, and in her free time she loves to read, listen to Taylor Swift, and watch football or hockey.


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