Contributed by Billy Schuerman
Before he became the athletics photographer for the University of Mississippi, Josh McCoy wore a number of different hats.
McCoy spent time as a wedding photographer, working freelance for newspapers, and doing whatever else would let him make photographs before he woke up one day and felt different.
“May 20, 2008, I woke up dizzy, … dizzy in Kentucky for three months. Over the next two years, I lost a lot of strength. Got so bad, I couldn’t walk across the street to get the mail,” McCoy said. “Thirteen doctors told me I had Multiple Sclerosis, and then told me I had ALS. Then they told me I had a year and a half to live. Finally they found that it was a virus that I caught swimming in the jungles of Honduras. They treated me, and I started getting better.”
He made a promise to himself. He would do what he loves and not take life for granted.
“I’d made a promise to myself that if I came through that, I was going to shoot sports and give up the money in the weddings,” McCoy said. “It changes everything you do. The little things do not bother me now. I’m grateful for everything in my life. I’m grateful for this job. I’m incredibly grateful for my daughter and everything that I do. It was a blessing in disguise.”
Shortly after he recovered, he began the hunt to pursue sports photography full-time and leave his wedding photography business.
“It’s crazy rewarding. I mean, it’s rewarding for a million reasons. I get up every single day and I shoot sports — a personal victory for me,” McCoy said. “It’s also rewarding because I actually get to see the process of the sausage being made and get to meet the players and learn them and their personalities.”
Photographing sports has opened a number of doors for McCoy. Namely, he got to craft his current job at UM.
“They had never had a photographer,” McCoy said. “They just knew they needed something. I got here on day one, and Michael Thompson, my former boss, was like, ‘Here’s your office, get settled.’
“So for three days, I didn’t hear from anybody. So I was like, ‘Well, I guess I’d better just start doing this.’ So I created it exactly how I had done everything through my wedding business with the organization being very key,” he said.
McCoy said he began the work to create processes, build computer servers, plan photographer schedules and “basically created it to how I knew worked for me in the past.”
His schedule now is hectic, but he loves it. Sometimes the workload can grow to 80-hour, 90-hour weeks when multiple sports are in session.
“The seasons are all the same; it’s just a different sport. You’ll shoot pretty much every weekend, and then you’re in here early on Monday to get people what they need,” McCoy said. “You can put in a lot of hours. A couple weeks ago, I did 31 hours over two-and-a-half days. You’ll shoot nights and weekends like crazy. Early on Monday, you will get everything on the servers, get everything to whoever needs them — and all that good stuff — then just hope that you get everything done before the next game. But even that process is fun.”
Though his love for all sports is deep, there are some events that stand out over the years as the most fun for him.
“The Super Regional win in 2014 over Louisiana – Lafayette was really fun,” McCoy said. “The atmosphere was insanely crazy. One minute, you’re getting fed some of the best food you’ve ever had in your life. The next minute, you get hit in the back of the head with a battery when we take the lead.”
The memories he has made over the years keep him around. Being so close to the action, and forming relationships with the myriad of athletes that come through the University of Mississippi is why McCoy thinks he will be around for a long time to come.