Traverse City News and Events

TC Rick Is An MVP, And Not Even In The Game

By Al Parker | Nov. 8, 2018

At a recent Traverse City high school volleyball match, students and fans began chanting “TC Rick, TC Rick, TC Rick.” But the focus of their cheers was not a student nor a coach – it was a retired photographer. Rick Sack, who has been taking photos at Traverse City Central, Traverse City West, and St. Francis high school sporting events for more than a decade, has become a fan favorite.

It happened again at the TC Patriot game when football fans from TC Central spotted Sack walking along the sideline. “They began the TC Rick chant,” Sack tells The Ticker. “Then as I walked to the other side, the TC West students began the chant. It was humbling.”

Sack is a fixture at all sorts of TC sporting events; he posts the photos immediately on his website, TCRicksports.com, and makes them available for parents and students to purchase.

“He’s at all of our events,” agrees Jason Carmien, athletic director at TC West High School. “The kids all recognize him. We have a hallway with his photographs up on it. His work really means a lot to our kids and parents. You can tell he has a passion for athletics. He’s a great guy.”

Adrienne Russell is a fan of “TC Rick” and his photography. Her daughter, Madison Goodwin, is a senior at TC Central and plays basketball and volleyball. “He’s pretty great,” says Russell. “He shoots the events, posts the albums online and you can go there, click, and get the shots. Madison picks them out. It’s so wonderful. I don’t have to take pictures – I can enjoy watching the game.”

Greg Farmer coaches girls basketball at TC Central and considers “TC Rick” a key part of the team. “It’s kind of cool,” says Farmer. “He travels with us on road trips, comes to scrimmages to Grand Rapids. He makes a big banner for the team every year. He gives us a lot.”

To cover so many events, Sack estimates he’s out somewhere shooting five nights on a typical week. On a recent weekend, he spent nine hours shooting three games on Friday and nine more shooting three more events on Saturday.

“For every hour spent shooting, there are two or three hours downloading, editing, processing, filling orders, and more,” he estimates.

When Sack and his wife Cindy moved to their northern Michigan retirement home in 2005, he was looking for a hobby to keep him occupied. “I never really picked up a camera until I retired,” Sack recalls.

That changed in 2006 when he took his Olympus to a volleyball match. It was still just a way to spend some time at an interesting sporting event. But then “people began asking about buying the photos,” he says. “It started as a hobby, grew to a small business and now is more of a business.”

Among his favorites are the bigger statewide competitions.

"It's always special when I get to cover a state championship event," says Sack. "In 2012 and 2015, I managed to get media credentials from the school to cover TC St. Francis at the final four volleyball championships in Battle Creek. The 2012 team finished as runners-up after a big comeback win in the semifinals. I attended the team banquet after the season and presented parents with a CD of pictures as a gift."

Earlier this year he covered the Division 1 State Track Championships in in East Kentwood where both TC West and TC Central had strong entries.

Over the years, Sack has amassed an inventory of an 72,000 sports images.

“I love shooting the games,” he says. “It combines three things I love – the students, sports, and photography.” 

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