If anything, Vintage LaX is a living, breathing testament to one man’s passion for capturing ordinary moments in an extraordinary way. My father, David Prothero, spent much of his time on earth looking at the world through the lens of a camera.When he passed away on May 22, 2009, he left behind, among other things, a collection of black and white negatives that chronicle his travels along the highways and byways that made up his journey through life. No subject was too big or too small to grab his attention, and the negatives he left behind are lasting memories of a life well-lived. From fly fishing to family, beetles to birds, insects to accidents, and everything in between, my father snapped it all. There was one subject, however, that stood out above the rest, and the myriad of images depicting magical moments of Canadian sport history are proof positive that it was Box Lacrosse that really captured his imagination.
I’m not sure if it was my passion for the game that sparked my father’s interest in it, or his interest that led me to develop a passion for it in the first place. In any case, it was a passion we shared. Me as a player, he as a fan and enthusiastic shutterbug. From 1968 to 1985, while I went from a fresh faced kid to a player in the majors, Dad took over 5,000 shots of our national game, usually from behind one net or another. It was that spot in any given arena that I came to think of as ‘Dad’s office’, as if he owned that space lock, stock and barrel. When I wasn’t playing, I was usually sitting beside him, learning vicariously the tricks of his trade. From there, I watched as he captured the great, the near-great, and the not-so great people and events that define our national sport today. From Jack to Jordi Bionda, from wood to plastic, from minor to Mann, Dad recorded it all with a click and a flash. It is this collection, these moments in time that are Dad’s true legacy.
The choice to carry on this legacy wasn’t something I consciously set out to do. Far from it. Lacrosse was a part of my past, not my present, and certainly not my future. But in digitizing the old photographs to save them for posterity, something magical happened. I was transported back in time – back to my glory days, as Bruce Springsteen would say – back to a time when my father was alive and I was a much younger version of my present day self. I came across pictures of faces and places I hadn’t thought about in years. Incredible action shots. Amazing photographs. It was intoxicating. I was hooked. And I knew that more than a few people out there would be interested in sharing the ‘high’. The Vintage LaX Project was born.
The next question to answer, however, was, “Where do I go from here?” The collection needed to grow if it was to survive and remain viable. But until this year, I could count on one hand the number of games I’d seen since leaving the sport in 1986. With Vintage LaX straining to get out of the gate, I knew that would have to change. Armed with a new camera and my father’s vintage canvass camera bag, I found myself at the Beaches Jr. B 2010 home opener, standing behind the net – in my father’s office - snapping pictures of the action. Some of the players, I realized were the children of people I’d played with 20 years earlier. Some of the fathers I remembered fondly, some of them not so much, and many of them I’d seen recently in the black and white memories that my Dad so lovingly preserved.
I’ve attended 42 lacrosse games this year, including the entire Mann Cup. When I find myself standing behind the net in an arena waiting for the perfect shot, I know that Dad is right there with me, much as he was when I took a photograph of Paul Evens and his two sons.
Both of his boys play for the championship Peterborough Lakers. One son, Shawn, had just been named the tournament MVP after tying the record for most points in a single series, while the other son, Scott, had just captured the final game MVP for scoring six goals and two assists in a victory over the New Westminster Salmonbellies.
I used to play against Paul and his brothers when we were both much younger. I reminded him of that fact after snapping a picture of this proud father with his two champion sons. I don’t think he remembered me, but when I told him I had a few pictures of him in action ‘back in the day’, his interest was piqued. This is the legacy that my father has left us all. This is why I continue what he started. This is Vintage LaX.