Saturday, June 22, 2024
Submitted Photo Mary Nelson and her family. Nelson has been photographing events at Hayfield schools since her children attended.Submitted Photo Mary Nelson is well-known in the Hayfield area for the photos she takes of Hayfield sporting events and other activities at the school.Submitted Photo Marty and Mary Nelson in the stands.

Mary Nelson documents Hayfield sports, activities in photos

Mary (Peshon) Nelson grew up in Winona with six siblings (three sisters and three brothers and she is the third oldest). Her father, Donald, was an iron worker and her mother, Dixie Lee was a CNA.

Mary was a tomboy growing up, so she loved sports from T-Ball at five years old, and flag football in elementary school. She tried her hand at many sports while in junior high (cross country, cheerleading, basketball and track). In Senior High, volleyball, basketball and softball with fast pitch softball being her favorite. The day after graduation from Winona High School, she moved to Rochester to be closer to her boyfriend/fiance whom she married when she was 19. They had had sons together, Brad and Josh, and lived near Viola on a farm.

Mary attended Rochester Vo-Tech and graduated from their nine-month medical Clerk Typist Program. She then worked many odd jobs such as Ruffalo Drugs, Pizza Hut, Mayo (babysitting pigs for Dr. Zollman) before getting a temporary job at Mayo Clinic covering a three-month maternity leave in the Radiation Safety Department. That led to a part-time study assistant job in their Nuclear Medicine Department which became full-time after a year.

About three years later Mary decided she wanted to further her education. She took an educational leave from Mayo Clinic after she was accepted into Mayo’s 24-month radiography program which included an Associate of Science degree from RCTC.

Unfortunately, before she started in the Mayo Radiography Program, she went through a divorce and moved back to Rochester with her sons. While in the Radiography program, Mayo started up their 12-month Sonography Program. Mary retired on November 30th after 37 years, 30 of which were as a radiology sonographer, a job that Mary was very passionate about as she loved caring for patients.

Mary and Marty Nelson were married on June 2, 1990, and they have two sons together, Tyler (athletic trainer through Mayo Clinic) and Connor, who also works at Mayo Clinic. Her son, Josh, works for a bank in Sioux Falls and Brad works for Cytotheryx in Rochester that does biomedical research for liver disease.

Marty grew up on a farm by Salem Corners, with three siblings, and played a variety of sports at Byron High School. He bought the farm where the Nelson’s now live when he was 26 years old. His dad, Don, worked full-time at Mayo Clinic as a nurse anesthetist, and farmed the land as well as raised cattle and still lives there at age 92. That’s where Marty got the idea that he wanted to farm.

Marty was a nuclear medicine technologist when he started at the Mary Clinic but when he retired on December 1st after 42 years, he was working in Human Resources.

About 25 years ago, a wrestling mother, who took photos for the team, approached Mary about taking photos for the wrestling club because her son was graduating. Wrestling had their own booster club, so it was that booster club that reimbursed Mary for all of her camera supplies — film, developing, and batteries. The photos would go to the wrestlers.

She started taking photos of the other sports her sons played which were football and baseball. The cost for the film and developing came out of her own pocket for any sports other than wrestling. Mary eventually started covering other sports at Hayfield such as volleyball, boys’ and girls’ basketball, softball, dance, and some cross country. She then started attending and taking photos at other Hayfield school events like Homecoming, Prom, band, and choir, plays and elementary programs. She did get paid $5 for each photo that was posted in the paper and if she wrote an article for the sport, she then received $15.

Once the Star Herald and the Byron Review closed everything she did was as a volunteer. It was never about the money for Mary, it was always about the kids.

She would hand out any photos she had taken to the students/athletes and when she went digital she would burn photos onto CD’s for them. Mary would also develop photos that she had taken with her digital camera and hang them in a display case near the gym for the students, parents, or anyone walking by to see and enjoy. She started posting more photos on Facebook so she didn’t have to burn CDs and they could just take them off her Facebook account.

Their youngest son graduated in 2014 but she continued to take photos for Hayfield. There were so many talented athletes and teams coming up that she wanted to follow them plus she wanted Hayfield to be represented in the paper. She was able to attend the boys and girls state basketball tournaments and the state baseball games in 2021 and 2022.

Her favorite sport is wrestling because it has a lot of action. She prefers to take outdoor sports during the day because of much better lighting. She finds most of the sports have challenges to getting a good picture. For example having to shoot through a fence at baseball and softball games or the ref is blocking her view during a wrestling match. She feels it is hard to get photos of all the athletes on the football field as the QB, the receivers and running backs get most of the action and not the linemen. She puts in a lot of steps when taking cross country races to cover different areas of the course.

She does prefer taking close-up sports photos rather than distant shots. Mary always hopes the bench or nonstarters get into the game so she can get photos of them. She feels the bench plays a very important part to a team’s success. They help make the starters better as well as the team by being the practice squad!

Her sons, Tyler and Connor, play amateur baseball with the Stewartville/Racine Sharks. They also play men’s and co-ed softball teams together and Mary tries to get to some of their softball games. Mary traveled to home and away games after Connor graduated because the away games were closer like Byron, Kasson, Triton, and Stewartville. Now Hayfield plays schools in their new conference much farther away and she couldn’t make some of them because of her work schedule. When Hayfield played a team the paper covered, she was always willing to take photos of the other team so their team had some coverage as well for their paper.

When Mary attended an athlete’s graduation party this spring, she realized she had never talked to this athlete before. She had watched her grow up and excel in her sports through her camera lens. She doesn’t always get to know the athletes, but she gets to know many of their parents. She really enjoys going to graduation parties and seeing her photos on display at their gathering.

She has now moved on to her third Cannon camera and that is the only brand she has used. She took three of her sons graduation photos and some graduation photos for others.

She has been asked to do weddings but has declined to do this because she doesn’t enjoy having to come up with poses or the stress. When she is at a wedding, she brings her camera along and will share any photos she takes. She likes to take action shots with the element of surprise when she gets a great shot!

Her husband, Marty, has been very supportive of her being gone to sporting events through the years. He has attended some games after their sons graduated and would come along to events a good distance away to keep her company in the car. Once they got to the event, she was always on the sidelines or by the wrestling mat. Spring and fall get hard for Marty as farm work needs to be taken care of.

The Nelson’s have a timeshare, so this has gotten Mary and Marty traveling at times. (when their kids were younger, they didn’t have time to travel as the kids were involved with sporting events) She has gone with her sisters and girlfriends at times to many parts of the U.S. and outside of the country to some place warm such as: Florida, Hilton Head, Atlantic Beach, Hawaii, Aruba, Mazatl?n, San Carlos, San Diego, Palm Springs. Mary has been on four cruises and said the last one to Alaska was just amazing. She would still like to get to Maui and Banff someday.

Mary really loves music as it motivates and uplifts her. She mostly listens to country and everything from the 60’s to current, the 80’s and some pop. Her mother always sang and played the guitar, so she is responsible for her love of music. Mary said she didn’t inherit her mother’s talent but she likes to sing like nobody’s listening!

Mary really loves Christmas and Marty goes along with it because he knows how much it means to her. She decorates the yard for her own enjoyment and it’s a bonus for others that get to see it from the road. When she was working, Marty would always make sure the lights were on when she came home at night so she could see them.

She has her siblings, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, their three grand kids, friends and family from the other side if they are spending Christmas alone for Christmas Eve in their heated shed. She decorates the shed to a theme where they might dress up in Hawaiian, the Grinch, or Christmas pajamas. Santa comes and they play pass the present, have a bean bag tournament, do adult gift exchanges and have a potluck.

Mary likes to watch DIY TV shows to inspire her to work on projects around their home. She also enjoys Hallmark movies. Marty and Mary don’t share the same interest in movies in the theater as she likes comedy and romance while he looks for the action and sci-fi films but they do compromise.

The Nelson’s are big Twins fans but now they are unable to get the games on their Dish TV. Before COVID, to her surprise, a bunch of parents and perhaps the Booster Club, donated money to purchase a suite for a Twins game in appreciation for all the photos she had taken for the athletes. She was so grateful! She was able to invite her kids, their partners, father-in-law, her husband and some close friends. It was a beautiful day and the Twins won!

Mary said she has been doing photography for the Hayfield School so long that she realized she is now taking photos of some of the children that her son graduated with. When attending a recent Hayfield softball game, she realized she used to take wrestling photos of the pitcher’s dad when he was in high school! Mary said some of her best friends today, she’s met through sporting events that her sons participated in at Hayfield as well as when they played on traveling teams and college. In retirement, Mary hopes to get through the hundreds of photos and photos burned on CDs she has taken of her own children and turn them into photo albums and photo books so they can look back and share them with their own children someday.

Now you can put a face with all the Hayfield sports photos that have appeared in the DCI newspaper the past couple of years taken by Mary.



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