GALLIPOLIS — David Tawney has filmed Gallia Academy Blue Devil football since the fall of 1962. Tawney, who graduated from the school in 1962, was a student at then Rio Grande College when the job kind of dropped in his lap.
Before, some of Tawney’s friends had the job, and Tawney helped out when he could. Tawney said he always had a love for photography. His father, Max, owned a studio in Gallipolis, and filming games was a natural fit. So, when his friend didn’t want the job anymore, Tawney picked up the camera and took over filming.
Tawney said he started filming the games with a 16mm Bolex camera, which had to be wound up after every play. The camera was also used off-hand. He would climb the to the top of the GAHS press box, then climb a few steps on a telephone poll and crawl into a crows nest. From his bird-eye location, Tawney would go to work, shooting 500-700 feet of film per game.
Once the game was over, Tawney said, the film was taken to the Greyhound bus station in Gallipolis either on Friday night or Saturday morning depending on the bus schedule. The film then could be picked up Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning. In later years, the film would be dropped off at local police stations where it would be picked up by the film processor and sent back to Gallipolis the next day.
Now, thanks to technology, Tawney doesn’t have to lug around heavy equipment and worry about shipping film. In 1980, he was supplied with a video camera, tapes and a tripod by the booster club. Tawney said the video camera made the job 10 times easier, and the coaches can look at a game film immediately after the game.
Surprisingly, Tawney said that in 50 years of filming, he has never seen a game. He said he had been too preoccupied tracking the ball and players through a viewfinder, which doesn’t lend itself to easy game viewing.
Tawney has filmed football games for 13 different coaches from 1962 to his retirement this year 2012. From 1982-1986 Tawney was the GAHS Athletic Boosters president. During his five-year tenure, new lights were installed on Memorial field, a new score board and equipment storage building was constructed at Memorial field, new baseball and softball field dugouts were built, an extension of the food booth was added and the boosters “200 Club” was implemented.
For all his services to the GAHS athletic programs, Tawney was inducted into the GAHS Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2010.
Tawney will continue operating Tawney Jewelers and Studio at 422 2nd Avenue in Gallipolis, that was started by his father Max in 1933. Asked when he was going to retire from the store, he said probably never.
“I enjoy working and talking with the customers,” he added.