Dublin high school athlete discovers new passion in offseason

His Shamrock Bowl days may be over, but Ja’Qwan Willis is finding a new way to keep busy this winter.

DUBLIN, Georgia — Whether he’s playing football for the Irish under the Friday night lights or finding ways to pass his time without him, ask anyone about Ja’Qwan Willis and they’ll give you probably the same answer.

“He’s full of life, excited every day,” said Whitley McCloud, journalism teacher at Dublin High School. “He always has a big smile on his face. He always finds something interesting.”

The last “something” happens to be photography. This winter, Willis is trading cleats for the camera, all because of a little extra free time in class.

“He took my camera one day from my desk and started taking pictures,” McCloud said.

Soon Ja’Qwan wanted to put the new skills to work.

“One day I went to his class and I was like, ‘Can I borrow your camera to take pictures for the game?’ And she was like, ‘No, we’re going to have to sort this out,'” Willis recalled.

With a bit of conviction, it worked very well. Ja’Qwan played his first basketball game on December 4 as the Irish hosted West Laurens.

Since then, the results speak for themselves.

“We looked at the film and it’s like you have an eye for sports photography, you have an eye for photography in general,” McCloud said.

It’s a newfound passion and talent for the two-sport Dublin star who took to the camera last month, just trying to pass the free time he had.

“After football season, I wouldn’t have anything to do. While baseball was getting ready to start, I would come here and take pictures,” Willis said.

Still very new to the game, he knows there is still a lot to learn.

“It’s always a learning process. Learning my light settings, my shutter speed, different lenses, different cameras. Because different cameras do different things. Different lenses do different things,” he said. he declared.

This is where last year’s Christmas present now comes in handy.

“I mean, I love it. It got to the point where my dad saw that I loved it too and he bought my personal camera,” Willis said.

Ja’Qwan’s work is certainly not limited to sports either. He’s willing to work on whatever he can, and all of his work can be found on Instagram under the handle @shotbycinco_.

“He’s just taken a certain liking to photography and you can tell that’s his passion, so he’s very invested in his passion and as an educator, that’s cool to see,” McCloud said. .

Willis will graduate from Dublin High School this spring and plans to attend Universal Technical Institute in North Carolina.

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