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Martinez: Kris Cavin left his mark on Camas with his camera

Martinez: High school sports

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
8 Photos
Kris Cavin (right) poses with Camas player Jake Blair on the sidelines at a Camas football game in 2019 (Ken Nowaczyk/For The Columbian)
Kris Cavin (right) poses with Camas player Jake Blair on the sidelines at a Camas football game in 2019 (Ken Nowaczyk/For The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Last spring, I wandered out to Doc Harris Stadium for my first boys soccer match of the season.

And there along the sidelines I bumped into a familiar face, Kris Cavin and his trusty camera.

I queried Cavin about the Camas team and what I should look for, because if anyone would know, it was Kris Cavin.

“So there’s this kid on the team named Wilson Fresh,” he said. “And I’ve had people come up to me and asked if he’s my kid. And I’m like ‘That’s not even my last name!’ ”

Ah, yes, when the legend precedes the man.

Cavin has shot photos of Camas High athletic teams for 12 years, sharing those images freely over the past 10 years on Twitter under the handle “KC Fresh.”

Sadly, KC Fresh has left Camas.

Earlier this fall, jumping on a tremendous job opportunity and, more importantly, a chance to be closer to family, Cavin and his wife Jennifer relocated to Bend, Ore., leaving behind a heartbroken, yet very grateful, community of followers.

Since news got out of his departure, Cavin has been overwhelmed by an outpouring of appreciation for all the photos he has shared over the past decade.

“I was very, very humbled by that,” Cavin said. “It’s just a silly little photo program that turned into such an amazing experience that I got to meet the whole town.”

Cavin said the experience reminded him of this book he read called “The Five People You Meet in Heaven,” the premise of which is when you get to heaven, people will tell you how you impacted their lives.

For Cavin, he didn’t have to go to heaven. He just had to leave Camas.

“After the news broke, people started coming at me sideways like ‘I remember this one time when I was going to quit (playing a sport), but you were taking photos, and I made this big play, and you got a photo of it, and you changed my life,’ ” Cavin said last week. “And I’m like ‘man, why didn’t you tell me that 10 years ago? I would have like to have heard that.’ I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had that type of conversation over the past 48 hours.”

Cavin’s transformation into KC Fresh started nearly 20 years ago when his son Jakob started playing youth soccer. Cavin became frustrated with negative chatter that can often come from overexuberant parents. So he decided to get a camera and shoot pictures to get away from that.

That eventually led him to start shooting pictures of the Camas High soccer teams in 2009. Two years later, he launched a Twitter account to help him share those photos.

“I didn’t know what to call my Twitter account,” Cavin recalled. “When I was a little kid, I had this friend named Robert, and he was the best breakdancer in southeast Portland. And he went by RC Fresh. And he always used to call me KC Fresh. I thought that was funny. I’ll just call it KC Fresh. I had no idea it would turn into what it did.

“There is not a single person in my (adult) life who has ever referred to me as KC or KC Fresh, but now the entire city of Camas only knows me as that.”

Cavin went from just shooting soccer to trying to shoot football as well. But getting field access proved challenging at first.

“They told me at first ‘We can’t have every dad with a camera out here,’ ” Cavin said. “But I stuck with it, taking pictures from the stands. And I’d go to away games and get welcomed onto the field.”

That all changed in the fall of 2014 when Rory Oster, then a first-year athletic director, pulled Cavin out of the ticket line at Doc Harris Stadium and granted him unlimited field access.

Later, Cavin began shooting games that did not involve Camas and sharing those photos. That led Leta Meyer, former Heritage athletic director and Greater St. Helens League president, to issue Cavin a league pass, allowing him to shoot games all over the county.

Cavin continued to shoot sporting events and other events, like graduations, until his daughter Tabitha’s graduation in 2018.

“That was my exit plan,” he said. “If Tabitha is not there, I’m not a relative anymore. I don’t know anybody. Well, that lasted about one week, because I can hear the cheering at Doc Harris from my house, wondering what I missed, wondering what photo I missed. And then the athletes were coming at me like ‘yo, where are you Mr. KC Fresh guy?’ So I kept coming out.”

From there, Cavin never considered stopping until last spring.

His son Jakob has been in living and working in Bend for a home construction company owned by Cavin’s brother-in-law. Then Tabitha informed the family she planned to join her brother in Bend after concluding her studies at Eastern Washington University.

“At the time, both my kids were saying ‘Hey you guys (Kris and Jennifer) should try to find your way to Central Oregon,’ ” Cavin said. “And at the time, I thought it was nonsense. I had this good job here. And I’ve got this photo program that I love.

“And then my son said ‘That’s pretty cool that you’re going to stay and photograph all those strangers’ kids. But one day, you’re going to have grandkids, and you’re going to miss out on them.’ That really made me think.”

Then in the summer, Cavin received a job offer from his brother-in-law in Bend that Cavin described as “too good to pass up.”

In November, Kris accepted the job offer, then he and Jennifer moved to Bend. The last Camas event Cavin shot was the Camas girls soccer team’s state championship game.

“I’m glad I kept at it,” Cavin said. “I got to be a part of the state championships. The football state championship (in 2019) and then the girls (soccer) in my final, final event being a state title. I just can’t say enough about that.”

I asked if there was a particular memory or photo that sticks out in his mind out of the thousands he shot over the years.

“I get asked all the time what my favorite photo is,” Cavin said. “And I say ‘you know that one that made that athlete smile and made the whole family smile?’ You know, kind of all of them, right?”

When pressed to narrow that down by just a little, Cavin recalled an image he’s taken over and over of the Camas girls soccer team.

“I don’t even know how it started, but the girls soccer team, the whole 12 years, every single time they’d finish a game they won, they would run across the field toward me, jump in the air, and take a team photo for me,” he said. “I never told them to do. They just did it.”

He recalled another image in 2014 when Camas girls soccer player Hailey Meyer received a surprise visit from her dad when he came onto the field for senior night in his motorized wheelchair.

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And then there was a shot of a Trevor Jasinsky dunk in 2015 with Jasinsky’s father in the background also taking pictures. But Dad is so excited, he wasn’t looking through his viewfinder; he was looking at his son with the same intensity on his face his son had while dunking the ball.

“But realistically, if I put out on Twitter, it’s my favorite photo,” Cavin said. “I love them all.”

And his Twitter followers loved them all. Now, folks in Bend will be beneficiaries of Cavin’s passion for photography. He’s already been out to shoot some Summit High School events.

But the folks in Central Oregon might not get to know who KC Fresh is. That’s because a couple of years ago when his photos became so popular, he created a second Twitter account called @ItisPhotoTime just for sharing photos.

Cavin says he intends to return to Camas from time to time to shoot some big events. It just made more sense to live close to his actual family and drive three hours to visit his extended Camas family than the other way around.

And who can blame him for that.

“The biggest thing here is my son is six minutes away,” Cavin said. “We were doing the walkthrough of our house here in October, and my son says ‘Hey, you have a hot tub here. I guess I’ll have to come by unannounced more often.’ And I look over to my wife and she’s wiping a tear from her eye. I thought ‘Wow, I guess this was the right move.’ ”

Even better, it was picture perfect.

Tim Martinez is the assistant sports editor/prep coordinator for The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4538, tim.martinez@columbian.com for follow his Twitter handle @360TMart.