Kevin Schoonover who started on defense for the Jackets in 1973 and 74 took over 10,000 photos this season in all sorts of weather both home and away. Fantastic dedication to the team!
We recently took time to speak with Kevin about his life and lacrosse:
Kevin, where are you from and why did you choose to attend Georgia Tech?
I grew up about an hour away from NYC, in a small town, Hillsdale, NJ. This was an ideal location to grow up. It was quiet, safe, and very community oriented. The public schools were, and still are, very good quality. I chose Tech because I wanted to be an Astronaut and Tech had one of the best Aerospace Engineering Departments in the US. I was actually directed towards Georgia Tech by my high school guidance counselor who just happened to be from Atlanta.
What was your Major and how did you start off your career?
I started in Aerospace, but after the Apollo Moon Project ended in 1972, NASA wasn't hiring anyone. I decided to change majors to Mechanical and minored in Nuclear Engineering and wanted to be involved in the nuclear industry. My first job was a Test Engineer at a large Georgia Power super-critical power station just outside Cartersville, GA, a Mechanical Engineer's playground!
Describe your career and where you are now?
While I was with Georgia Power, I was exposed to many different final control systems within the plant. Little did I know that this experience would pay off well in the future! Later, I worked for a Swedish company for a number of years learning about the design of high pressure and temperature valve systems typically used in power plants for steam turbine bypass applications. After 7 years, I made the leap to start my own company, with a business partner, and create my own version of the existing technology. Business was good and I was able to travel the world and learn a great deal more about the energy business and development. After 12 years of running my own company a large Midwest company, Emerson Electric, purchased it and I stayed with Emerson for another 7 years, during which I earned my MSME from Tech.
However, I preferred to work for myself and opened an engineering consulting business based on my background and experience. One particular project of interest involved working for 7 years, in conjunction with Georgia Tech and the Dept of Energy, on the development of a Fusion Power Plant. I continue to work as a steam turbine bypass valve consultant even to this day and have a number of interesting clients and projects.
How did the Georgia Tech Experience Help you? What did you like most about Georgia Tech?
Georgia Tech helped me in so many ways. Beginning with the excellent education, second was the ability to analyze situations and breakdown problems, and third was a great platform to begin networking. What I liked most about Georgia Tech was the friendships I made and the opportunities it gave me in the future.
Tell me about your Family?
I was married for 32 years to a wonderful woman who was a Georgia Tech Management Science graduate, Teresa Lovelace, class of 1976 before I lost her to cancer in 2007. I was fortunate to find another wonderful woman, Terry, a former HR Executive, who I married in 2012. We travel and enjoy our life together, as well as taking care of our two rescue cats. I can't brag enough about my family, I have three smart and beautiful daughters, three terrific son-in-laws and five grandchildren, ages 3-10 years who all happen to live in the same ZIP Code as myself. My camera stays busy!
How did you come by to play Lacrosse at Georgia Tech and what was your experience playing?
In high school I played football and threw the discus in track, but our school district didn't offer lacrosse. I was aware of the sport and always wanted to try playing. At the start of my junior year at Tech, everyone was at the Tech Coliseum for a freshman orientation event. Outside the coliseum were a number of club tables, one of which was lacrosse. I walked up to the table and met Bob Schack and Joel Steadley who were there to recruit the new incoming students. Instead they got me! Thanks to the guidance of Coach Lee Bourney and my defensive teammates, Steve Garrison and Chris Carter; I learned the position well enough to play a pretty good defensive position.
My biggest memory was of playing in front of 58,000 spectators when we did two exhibition events just before Atlanta Falcon football games!
I got involved in photography when I was 13 when my uncle gave me some old darkroom equipment that he wasn't using any more. I bought a camera and starting shooting and processing my own film and pictures I took pictures in high school and then at Tech and was the historian at my FIJI fraternity. Travel and work after Tech just gave me more opportunities to learn about photography and capture pictures of places and cultures that I had just dreamed of seeing, including the Great Pyramids of Egypt and the Great Wall of China.
Shooting sports was always one of my favorite subjects. After Tech I stayed in contact with the lacrosse team, mostly via Alumni Games, and about 6 years ago I decided to go to a regular season game and take my new camera gear with me to see what I could capture. I submitted a few pictures to the team, which for me really were not that good. Over time I upgraded my camera and lenses, studied different sports related shooting techniques, and committed myself to support the team in this manner. The biggest issue in the early years was distribution as no one really knew who I was and getting the pictures out was difficult. With now having a Shutterfly website, as well as Twitter and Instagram, things have really changed!
My wife Terry has also been working in the background to create and manage the website where we post all the game photos for everyone's enjoyment. She also often travels with me to GT away games.
What do you enjoy about it most?
I love meeting the players and their parents and being a part of the team again! I would encourage more alumni to come out and watch! At the start of the season, I would remember numbers but by the end of the season, they all had names and faces!
I also take pictures, when I can, of the Georgia Tech Women's Lacrosse Team and they are always very grateful as well.
What did you think of the 2019 team and what was some favorite moments this past season?
The team was a very talented group of young men who exemplified teamwork and comradery both on and off the field. They demonstrated good sportsmanship and played hard with a commitment to win, never giving up! Two games stood out as good memories from this past season. The first was the trouncing of UGa and their especially boisterous fans! What Tech graduate wouldn't enjoy that?! The second was the beating of Chapman on their home field in Southern California. I think it really showed that the team had arrived as a serious national championship contender and that was a special moment!
We understand you have started playing again in "old guy" leagues, how is that going?
This is something that I just started doing, as a result of some coaxing by my old teammate Joel Steadley, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I am part of the "walking wounded" after my first tournament at the Vail, CO, Lacrosse Shootout, so more stretching and training is needed before the August tournament in Lake Placid, NY. The challenge of competition at age 66 is compensated by the wonderful camaraderie of guys my same age with similar interests and sense of fun.
Any predictions for 2020 or advice for fellow Lacrosse Alums?
As for 2020, I only see more success! As with any school team, we lose a number of seniors every year and this year we are losing some very good ones. However, this team is very deep in all the key positions. Underclassmen contributed heavily to the team's success this year and will be the leaders in the future. As for advice to my fellow Lacrosse Alums, stay involved and enjoy the growth and success of the sport at Tech!