The team was a combination of youthful exuberance, elite athleticism and gritty competitiveness. The fans, dubbed Bandit Nation, were a fiercely loyal, fun-loving bunch, who welcomed me into their family. The games were spirited contests, followed by massively fan-friendly interaction with the teams. The whole experience was like no other.
It is hard to capture the magnitude of everything with mere words. Fortunately, Dina Kwit has been around the team armed with her trusty camera for more than a decade. Even better, Dina has published Through My Lens: A Decade of National Pro Fastpitch Photos, a 345 page book, filled with hundreds of beautiful pictures and many interviews from people involved in the NPF.
Dina first talked about this book project a couple years ago. My interview with Dina about the book from July 2018 can be found at On the Beat With Dina Kwit. Bandit Nation and NPF fans anxiously awaited the finished product.
Last Saturday, several members of Bandit Nation met Dina at the Dome in Rosemont, where we received our copies of Through My Lens. As we quickly leafed through the book, we all expressed our genuine love and appreciation for what we were holding.
When I got home, I settled onto my couch for a more thorough look at Through My Lens. I honestly was blown away. I have seen Dina's excellent photography over the years, but these pictures are the best of the best. Each picture is frame-worthy.
The first half of the book allows me to see the seasons I missed. The second half lets me relive the great memories from my years covering the Bandits. I love it cover to cover (and not just because I am featured with broadcaster Mike Knezevich on page 301).
Through My Lens isn't just a book. It's a collection of great memories, moments, athletes and community. It is the definitive thorough compilation of ten years of the NPF. It truly is a museum piece.
Having been involved in several book projects over the years, I know of the hard work involved. Dina had to sort through thousands of pictures to choose a select bunch for each section. The organization, editing and proofreading is mind-boggling. Anyone can put together a scrapbook of pictures, but Through My Lens is more like an encyclopedia. I have never seen anything this in depth organized so well and flawlessly.
I want to thank Dina for her effort in publishing Through My Lens. Dina will no doubt call it her labor of love, but for Bandit Nation it is a tangible, palpable representation of what we love and what brings us together every summer.
In the near future, I will be writing more about the book for Global Traveler and Patch.com. For more info on Through My Lens, including how to purchase it, go to BookBaby.com.
For now, I will leave you with Dina's thoughts on Through My Lens.
"It's hard to imagine how many things can happen in a 10 year period. I was fortunate enough to photograph the Chicago Bandits and the National Pro Fastpitch for that time frame. As I was selecting photos for the book, looking at these images brought back many great memories but more importantly it reinforced to me how far the sport of softball has come. These women, these amazing athletes have paved the way for little girls who dream of one day being a professional athlete. The completion of the book has brought closure to me for a time of what was and presents an opening to what can be". I am forever grateful to all the players, fans, and owners in this league for their support of this project. It was truly a labor of love. I hope you take a walk with me down memory lane and relive a decade of the NPF"
Bandit Nation and Dina Kwit (to my left) in Rosemont, IL-December 2019.