2013 OWH Year in Pictures – Alyssa Schukar

More photos: 2013 OWH Year in Pictures – Alyssa Schukar

"This may be a small town, but it's got a big rodeo, and it's got a really big heart," 2013 Miss Burwell Rodeo Olivia Hunsperger said. In its 92nd year, the rodeo continues strong and has served as an economic stronghold for an otherwise sparsely inhabited town. Members of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association hold their hats as Hunsperger passes by during the opening ceremonies on Saturday, July 27, 2013. By: ALYSSA SCHUKAR/THE WORLD-HERALD

“This may be a small town, but it’s got a big rodeo, and it’s got a really big heart,” 2013 Miss Burwell Rodeo Olivia Hunsperger said. In its 92nd year, the rodeo continues strong and has served as an economic stronghold for an otherwise sparsely inhabited town. Members of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association hold their hats as Hunsperger passes by during the opening ceremonies on July 27, 2013. ALYSSA SCHUKAR/THE WORLD-HERALD

I celebrated my fifth year at the World-Herald in 2013, and as I’ve learned to expect, this year has been nothing like the ones before. Each year brings new sources of inspiration, meaningful relationships and a clearer understanding of our community in Omaha and the region. Among the highlights were my months spent documenting the final semester at Assumption-Guadalupe School, where 95 percent of students speak Spanish at home.

With her family looking on, eighth-grader Anahi Ruiz, one of 15 members of Assumption-Guadalupe School's last graduating class, hugs her teacher, Bob Humpal, outside the South Omaha school on Thursday, May 16, 2013. "Let me give you some love," Ruiz said as she surprised her teacher with the embrace. Humpal agreed to teach eighth grade knowing that it would only be a year-long position. "When I got the feel of this place, I realized it’s a place I belong. Even if it’s just one year, when I leave here, I am going to be a better teacher and a better person because of this community," Humpal said. By: ALYSSA SCHUKAR/THE WORLD-HERALD

With her family looking on, eighth-grader Anahi Ruiz, one of 15 members of Assumption-Guadalupe School’s last graduating class, hugs teacher Bob Humpal outside the South Omaha school on May 16, 2013. “Let me give you some love,” Ruiz said as she surprised her teacher with the embrace. Humpal agreed to teach eighth grade knowing that it would be only a yearlong position. “When I got the feel of this place, I realized it’s a place I belong. Even if it’s just one year, when I leave here, I am going to be a better teacher and a better person because of this community,” Humpal said. ALYSSA SCHUKAR/THE WORLD-HERALD

And though the following picture always garners a sideways glance, I loved getting to know the players on Omaha’s Legends Football League (formerly the Lingerie Football League) team in its inaugural season. These women reminded me that you can’t understand someone without knowing her story. Like quarterback Linsey Noble said, “you can’t really judge people by the cover, by the book or the lingerie.”

Omaha Heart's Ashley Lambrecht, at center, dances with teammates including, from left, SarahJane Thompson, Linsey Noble, Morgan Anderson, Lindsay Burnham, Shawnte' Bunting and Kelsey Lane, before the team's opening game against the Atlanta Steam in Gwinnett, Ga., on Saturday, April 13, 2013. The Heart lost 42-6. "I love showing people that we’re real athletes. A lot of people doubt…It makes me so mad when they say, 'Is it powderpuff? Is it flag?' I’m just like, No! If you’ve seen it, then you’d know that we actually tackle. You’ve seen that it’s not just models or pretty girls just trying to play football. It’s pretty girls that have careers, that are moms that can actually play football and are good at it," Bunting said. By: ALYSSA SCHUKAR/THE WORLD-HERALD

Omaha Heart’s Ashley Lambrecht, center, dances with teammates including, from left, SarahJane Thompson, Linsey Noble, Morgan Anderson, Lindsay Burnham, Shawnte’ Bunting and Kelsey Lane, before the team’s opening game against the Atlanta Steam in Gwinnett, Ga., on April 13, 2013. The Heart lost 42-6. “I love showing people that we’re real athletes. A lot of people doubt. … It makes me so mad when they say, ‘Is it powder puff? Is it flag?’ I’m just like, No! If you’ve seen it, then you’d know that we actually tackle. You’ve seen that it’s not just models or pretty girls just trying to play football. It’s pretty girls that have careers, that are moms that can actually play football and are good at it,” Bunting said. ALYSSA SCHUKAR/THE WORLD-HERALD

Photographers are total nerds for light. When I learned that I’d cover the World-Herald fireworks show from outside of TD Ameritrade Park, I was ecstatic. I arrived well before the fireworks and chased the interesting light, characters and slices of Americana.

With American flag in hang, Ashley Henry, 10, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, rests in a spot of light as her siblings Caitlin Henry, 6, and Jacob Henry, 3, wrestle at right at Council Bluff's Tom Hanafan River's Edge Park before the 29th annual World-Herald fireworks display lights up the sky over TD Ameritrade Park on Wednesday, July 3, 2013. The 22-minute show featured 6,000 pounds of explosives and more than 30,000 shells. By: ALYSSA SCHUKAR/THE WORLD-HERALD

With American flag in hand, Ashley Henry, 10, of Council Bluffs rests in a spot of light as her siblings Caitlin Henry, 6, and Jacob Henry, 3, wrestle at right at Council Bluffs’ Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park before the 29th annual World-Herald fireworks display lights up the sky over TD Ameritrade Park on July 3, 2013. The 22-minute show featured 6,000 pounds of explosives and more than 30,000 shells. ALYSSA SCHUKAR/THE WORLD-HERALD

My collection of images this year also is marked by several portraits. I love to study faces, and the joy of athletic success shines through in Austin Ruskamp’s bloody smile below.

Freeman High School's second-ranked Austin Ruskamp bares bloody teeth after pinning Anselmo-Merna senior Jake Wells, ranked No. 1 at 160 pounds in the Class D quarterfinal match. By: ALYSSA SCHUKAR/THE WORLD-HERALD

Freeman High School’s second-ranked Austin Ruskamp bares bloody teeth after pinning Anselmo-Merna senior Jake Wells, ranked No. 1 at 160 pounds, in a Class D state quarterfinal match. ALYSSA SCHUKAR/THE WORLD-HERALD

Thanks for looking. Coming soon: the best photos of 2013 from other World-Herald photographers.

Alyssa Schukar

About Alyssa Schukar

I have been a staff photojournalist at the Omaha World-Herald since September 2008. I'm from Lincoln and am a 2006 graduate of the College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Previously, I worked as an assistant at Malone and Co., a commercial photography studio in Omaha. My favorite pictures are those that give insight on the life of an individual or family because I understand the world better through the experiences of the people I meet. It's always humbling to be allowed such intimate access. My most challenging assignments come in many forms. Funerals, especially those of soldiers, always are emotionally draining, but I try to approach people with respect and dignity. In my time at the paper, I have covered a wide variety of assignments, including the Nebraska and Iowa National Guard's deployments in Afghanistan, Husker football at home and away, portraits of wigs big and small, rodeo queen competitions and intimate views of everyday life and love. Follow me on twitter @OWHalyssa.
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