By Richard Rhinehart
Arlington, Virginia, June 23, 2016 – Two disabled military veterans – one from the United States, another from Canada – are featured in a new video about national non-profit World T.E.A.M. Sports’ Face of America bicycle and hand cycle ride to Gettysburg from Virginia videographer Kate Hoof.
With 600 participating cyclists from 36 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Australia, including 136 injured veterans, Hoof decided Canadian Army veteran Michael Cotts and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Rachel Fredericks could tell the story of the April 23-25 inclusive ride.
A 24-year high school teacher, Hoof met both Cotts and Fredericks at the beginning of Face of America in Arlington. “She had such a compelling story that touched on the themes of overcoming adversity, perseverance and comradery,” Hoof said. “I heard these themes over and over again in the stories people told during the weekend.”
Cotts, a past participant of World T.E.A.M. Sports’ Adventure Team Challenge in Colorado’s high mountains and the organization’s 2014 CanAm Veterans’ Challenge bicycle ride from Ottawa to Washington, was happy to work with Hoof. He explained his participation in the Holbrook, New York-based non-profit’s challenging athletics literally saved his life. “Both Rachel and Michael were gracious to share their stories on camera and I hope I represented their experiences well,” Hoof said.
Traveling 110 miles in two days, Hoof kept up with Cotts and Fredericks by riding on the back of a motorcycle driven by professional photographer Tony Granata. “Tony has such a good eye and stopped at more scenic points along the route where I captured video and shot stills,” recalled Hoof. She noted that “All of the stills in the video were shot by Tony.”
Capturing the emotion, excitement and satisfaction of the ride and its participants, and then translating it into a compelling video documentary is a challenging task. From nearly five hours of video she took during the event, she used just under five minutes in the finished video.
“I spent about 40 hours editing,” Hoof said. “I watch everything over again and mark it. Editing is a recursive process, not a linear one. Regardless of the technology, it’s tedious and time consuming. The story unfolds slowly, but after a great deal of back and forth I fit the pieces together like a puzzle.”
Seeking out World T.E.A.M. Sports after a friend told her about the organization and its inclusive events that bring together disabled and able-bodied athletes, Hoof attended the November 2015 Adventure Team Challenge North Carolina in Charlotte. Through her footage of the Challenge, she created the official event video. She was invited back by the organization to document Face of America.
Documenting her first Face of America, Hoof was impressed and inspired by her experiences and interactions with riders during the two days to Gettysburg. “What stands out in my mind is seeing a line of two, three or four cyclists riding side by side, assisting each other up a tough hill. The visual was powerful and symbolized in many ways what the ride was all about.”
In addition to creating video documentaries for World T.E.A.M. Sports, Hoof also provides documentary assistance to other non-profit organizations. She’s assisted the Richmond Cycling Corps, documenting its mission to bring cycling and “all of its character-building lessons to middle and high school students living in public housing projects.” For Cultural Vistas, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit, Hoof has traveled several times to southeastern Asia to “shoot video and document state department-funded grant programs.”
With her Face of America documentary complete, Hoof plans on spending time helping other non-profits tell their stories. In addition, she intends to “work on my 130-year-old house this summer.”
Presented by Capital One Bank, Face of America is supported through sponsorship from American Portfolios Financial Services, Boost Oxygen, Booz Allen Hamilton, Benson Botsford LLC, Brioni, Devens Recycling Center, Freshbikes, Penske Truck Rental, Punch’d Energy, Sila Solutions Group, SUBWAY of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, The Melting Pot of Wilmington DE, Three Wire Systems, Vedder Price, and Veteran Corps of America. Funds raised through Face of America pay for the costs of the event and supports participation of the disabled athletes. Ride proceeds also helps pay for other World T.E.A.M. Sports events, including this August’s Coastal Team Challenge along the Long Island coast.