Washington University in St. Louis senior Grace Bruton will work her final games as photo editor of Student Life this weekend at the 19th annual McWilliams Classic. During her seven semesters here, she has shot more than 90 games, meets and matches, four NCAA championship teams, the retirement of beloved football coach Larry Kindbom and the arrival of powerhouse Anthony J. Azama, the John M. Schael Director of Athletics. She also has edited and coached staff photographers and reporters, teaching them how to snap a crisp image of a sprinting runner and where to stand on the sidelines.
And yet, Bruton is not a huge fan of sports.
“I love taking sports photographs, not necessarily sports,” Bruton said. “But I do get swept up in the moment — and there have been a lot of great moments in my time here.”
Bruton graduates Dec. 14 with degrees in economics and in environmental policy in Arts & Sciences and plans to pursue a career in environmental policy analysis and advocacy. Here, Bruton shares some of her favorite photos and reflects on her work as a student journalist.
Bruton considers volleyball one of the more challenging sports to shoot. “You need to be near the net, but not shoot through it,” Bruton explained. In this photo, Bruton shot Leila King as she spiked the ball during a 2017 game. (All photos courtesy of Grace Bruton/Student Life)
Tim Goblirsch lifts himself through the rain at the WashU Invite in March 2019.
Has Bruton ever been too close to a wayward line drive or a charging receiver? “Fortunately, no. But I’m probably overly cautious,” Bruton said. “I’m not so worried about getting hit — I’m worried about my camera getting broken.”
Bruton traveled with fellow Student Life editors Rohan Gupta and Katy Hudson to cover the women’s soccer NCAA Division III tournament in Greensboro, N.C., in 2018. Like the teams she covers, Student Life also is a tight-knit family. “I’ve seen how much work goes into every single issue. I’ve been really lucky to be a part of that. When you spend so much time with people who really care about the same things you value, you can’t help but build really close friendships.“
Bruton captured coach Larry Kindbom hugging junior defensive back Andrew Whitaker after Whitaker caught an interception against Augustana College on Nov. 2, 2019. Kindbom retired this year after 31 seasons as Bears head coach. “I really enjoyed covering him and his teams. He really had a special relationship with his players,” Bruton said.
“The phrase scholar-champions can sound a little cheesy, but really, it’s true,” Bruton said. “Our D-3 sports are so good. When deciding where to go to school, I was weighing between here and Northwestern, where I could potentially take photos of a D-1 school. As a journalist, I have more access here than I would at a D-1 school. But there is also incredible quality. These teams are great.” On Nov. 24, Bruton chronicled the women’s soccer team’s heartbreaking loss on penalty kicks in the NCAA championship tournament.
Linebacker Jake Coon and defensive back Jeff Marek tackled the Carroll University ball carrier to close the 2018 season.
Bruton captured junior John Harry Wagner as he powered through the 4×100-meter relay at the WashU Invite in March 2019. Bruton shoots 400 to 800 photos per event.
Auggie Mense high-fives his teammate after scoring a run in a game against Case Western Reserve University in April 2018. “There is something really special about the way the players support one another. The sense of communities on these teams is amazing.”
Bruton loves the campus a cappella scene for the same reason she enjoys Bears sports — the community. “A cappella group is really a team too. Everyone cares so much about the group’s success. It makes me feel like I’m also part of the community.” Here, Bruton captures the Pikers, the university’s oldest a cappella act.