When Appalachian State finishes warming up, starting quarterback Taylor Lamb breaks away from the team to find his mother.
Allyson Lamb, who takes photographs for App State’s athletics department, waits near the end zone corner closest to the players’ exit. Then the two carry out a routine that started randomly four years ago.
Taylor takes off his helmet, hugs his mother and kisses her on the forehead.
“I love you, Mom,” Taylor always says.
“I love you, too,” Allyson always responds, “now go do what you do.”
They perform the sequence every home game and as many away games as they can.
“We are very superstitious being a coach’s family,” said Allyson, who’s married to Mercer football coach Bobby Lamb. “It’s just stuck.”
But Allyson added something to it Saturday. She cried, and did so begrudgingly.
App State’s senior day against Louisiana this past weekend was Taylor’s last home start.
Lamb, a redshirt senior who has started for the Mountaineers the past four seasons, used his final game at Kidd Brewer Stadium to help App State claim its second straight share of the Sun Belt Conference championship in a 63-14 victory.
Allyson couldn’t avoid the realization that it was her last game, too. She’s regularly made the six-hour commute from Macon, Ga., during the fall to photograph every one of Taylor’s games. She’s also typically the only photographer App State has for road games.
“It’s surreal and emotional and bittersweet because it’s not like I am going to have a Saturday to come back up because I will be so busy being a coach’s wife again,” Allyson said. “I’ve built so many relationships and friendships with people I see on the sidelines and say hey to on Saturday, that I just see every Saturday in the fall.
“It’s going to be different and weird and very sad.”
Allyson developed her hobby during Taylor’s freshman season at Greer High in South Carolina.
It allowed her to get out of the stands, as well as avoid the opinionated fans who filled them.
A friend gave her a camera, telling Allyson to go shoot as many games as possible for practice. Her first shot at her first game, to put it nicely, was less than stellar.
She scanned the sidelines and found the photographer with the most gear. She walked up and asked for a tutorial.
After a quick 15-minute lesson, she took that guidance and applied it to every game since. Over time, Allyson improved along with the quality of her equipment.
Once Taylor joined the football team at App State, Allyson continued with her passion. During the summer of 2014, Allyson gained the blessing of former App State sports information director Mike Flynn to serve as the football team’s game day photographer.
Her photos now fill up the football team’s portion of App State athletics’ website. Her goal is to get action shots of every player during a season.
That 2014 season was also the start of Taylor’s prolific career. That same season kicked off their pregame routine.
Taylor made his first appearance in an App State uniform in the season opener at Michigan.
He led App State on a 19-play, 96-yard drive in the fourth quarter of a 52-14 loss. During that trip to Ann Arbor, Mich., Allyson took her favorite photo of her son.
The image shows Taylor standing with the crowd behind him, pointing up to the small section of App State fans in the upper bowl of Michigan Stadium.
Taylor went on to set the school record for career passing touchdowns this season. He has 90 with only the Dollar General Bowl against Toledo to go. Taylor has played in 50 games, starting the past 48. He’s been the quarterback since App State’s transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision, winning two conference titles and two bowl games.
“We scored a touchdown (against Michigan) and that’s kind of been his journey,” App State coach Scott Satterfield said. “It’s been a long journey, and he’s scored a lot of touchdowns throughout it.”
Allyson said the most surprising part of her photography is the pride she feels from Taylor. She referenced the many times he’s called teammates over to show off one of his mom’s photos. It’s also allowed her to get to know her son’s teammates and be even more present in his life.
After practice Nov. 28, Taylor laughed while wondering what Allyson would do with the freed-up Saturdays.
“I guess she will be bored for the rest of her life,” Taylor joked. “She’ll be taking a lot of photos at Mercer.
“...At the end of the day, it’s my last day at The Rock, it’ll probably pretty emotional, and it’s going to be her last day shooting here. So for both of us, it has been a good ride.”
Taylor accounted for five touchdowns, throwing four and running for another, and 329 total yards on Saturday.
Allyson bustled around the outside of the field, trying to get her shots in while occasionally stifling brief celebrations when App State scored.
For the last time in Boone, Allyson and Taylor were just doing what they do.
The Winston-Salem Journal is a news partner of the Observer. For more Appalachian State coverage go to http://www.journalnow.com/sports/asu/