BRATTLEBORO >> Kayla Rice is a storyteller.
Some of her tales begin with a bride walking down an aisle, while others start off with a rock band's first song of the night. Her latest story ended with heartbreak, however, when the Major League Baseball team that she works for came up short in the Fall Classic.
"The World Series was amazing, but after becoming so emotionally attached to the team throughout the season, it was really hard coming so far only to lose in game 5," said Rice, who is the New York Mets Assistant Photographer. "I had shot at Citi Field all year, but the World Series made it feel like a whole different ballpark. There is so much more excitement and magic to a World Series game and I found myself getting nervous butterflies before each one."
The daughter of Stephen and Jennifer Rice, Kayla grew up in Brattleboro. She went to Academy School and then Brattleboro Union High School, before going off to Syracuse to study photojournalism.
"I love the art of photography in general but find that for me, photography is most inspiring and powerful when a single image or sometimes a handful of images tell a story that affects me emotionally. Photojournalism gives me the power to tell important and interesting stories," stated the 2009 BUHS graduate.
Rice spent two years at the Reformer, where she took photos of anything from parades to house fires. Among her most memorable sports pictures in the area were Hinsdale High's Skylar Bonnette sinking a 3 for her 1,000th career point and Brattleboro's Maddy Derosia scoring the winning run in a state championship softball game.
"The images that I've made that are most memorable to me show powerful moments of joy and love at a wedding, the grief and sadness of death, or the ecstasy and celebration of a hard-fought win on the baseball diamond," Rice noted.
She photographed the Mets during the 2015 season, documenting a ride that included a 90-72 regular-season mark, a division title and a World Series appearance that ended in a loss to the Royals. She listed Wilmer Flores, Jacob DeGrom and Curtis Granderson as her favorite players on the team.
"I grew up — and will always be — a Red Sox fan," Rice wanted to make clear.
Aside from taking action pictures, Rice has also been assigned to photograph those singing the national anthem, celebrities in the stands, and concerts at Citi Field. She has even traveled with Mets alumni, managers and players to capture visits to VA hospitals, schools and New York City landmarks.
"Throughout the game we photograph not only the action on the field but the emotions of the players, the fans and the general atmosphere at the ballpark and many other things," said Rice.
Her photos are primarily used for player intros, in magazines, in the media guide, and on the Mets' website. Of the ones she took during the World Series, Rice's favorites are David Wright making a play at third base, an upset fan at the end of Game 5, a home run trot by Granderson, and pitcher Matt Harvey reacting after throwing eight shutout innings.
Now that the Major League Baseball season is over with, Rice will work a 9-5 desk job that consists of filling photo requests and lots of photo editing. That will give her a chance to watch plenty of Syracuse men's basketball games in the evenings.
Of course, she's hoping that this story ends "happily ever after" with her Orange cutting down the nets.