Greg Valk volunteers his time and talents to take pictures of Hargrave High School athletes.

Huffman photographer captures priceless memories for Hargrave athletes, their parents

Elliott Lapin, Staff writer

He does not work for the district, nor did he have a child playing in any of those games. He travels to take photographs of the Hargrave athletes for players and parents to have.

This month, Greg Valk drove the 87 miles from Huffman to Bryan twice within a week — once for Hargrave volleyball’s regional tournament and once for Hargrave football’s area round playoff game. He drove the 94 miles to Madisonville for Hargrave softball’s regional final games and the 184 miles to Austin for the softball team’s state tournament games in June.

He started taking photos when his daughter Audrey, who graduated from Hargrave High School in 2017, started playing volleyball.

“There was nobody really doing it, and the parents didn’t have shots of their kids, so that’s why I started,” he said.

Valk, who is the general manager of Texas Iron & Metal, a steel company, had no training with cameras and had never taken a photography class. He just learned from experience.

Upon the suggestion of some of the Hargrave coaches, Valk has continued taking photos after Audrey graduated.

“Greg Valk is a mainstay on the Huffman athletic sidelines,” said Mike McEachern, the Huffman ISD athletic director and Hargrave football coach. “At every sport or event that he is at, he takes incredible pictures.”

At the football game in Bryan on Nov. 22, a Hargrave baseball player came up to Valk before the game and proudly showed him a picture on his phone that Valk had taken of him.

Moments like that encapsulate why Valk does what he does.

“It’s for that moment they can remember forever,” he said. “How many times do you hear people talk about that catch I made in high school or whatever it was? They can reflect back on that moment in time and have that picture.”

Valk captured the softball team’s progress throughout the season, its playoff journey and its state tournament games, including the state final game where it won the state championship.

“Greg Valk is one of those community members that you are blessed to know. He is an amazing photographer and an even better man,” said Garrett Gates, the Hargrave softball coach and father to Kenzie, a class of 2020 Hargrave softball player. “He volunteers his time, money and equipment to take pictures of our athletes even though he doesn’t have a child on the field or court. It was very special to us when he traveled to several out of town playoff games, including Madisonville and the state championship game in Austin, to take photos of our girls.”

Valk was born in a small town in Upstate New York. He moved to the Houston area when he was five, graduated from North Shore High School and moved with his family to Huffman 15 years ago.

He now feels very much ingrained in the Huffman community.

“I don’t plan on stopping as long as the kids are getting the shots that they can look back on and think ‘I did that! That’s cool!” he said. “So how long will I keep doing this? Who knows? That’s up to the guy upstairs.”

Valk said his position at Texas Iron & Metal allows him the flexibility to take the time to travel to photograph Hargrave sporting events. He said charity is a big part of the company culture and that people from the company volunteer with all sorts of different things around the community.

He does not have one or a couple favorite photographs from the years that he has been doing this. He said that his favorite photos are the ones that are the most meaningful to the kids and parents.

“As a coach, parent and community member, I’m forever grateful for Greg Valk,” said Gates.