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Wildcat Chronicle

The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

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WEGO’s famous sports photographer

Now a fixture behind the camera at WCCHS sports games, senior Mang Pi has built a following on Instagram.
Senior Mang Pi with one of his cameras. The WEGO student hopes to work in sports media in the future. (Photo courtesy of Mang Pi)

Most students at WEGO have seen those professional-quality soccer team pictures that are used to promote the players and the team, but what people do not know is that the person behind the camera is much more than a photographer. 

Mang Pi

While born in Burma, senior Mang Pi got his start and love for photography in Malaysia. 

“Back in Malaysia, we were playing on the playground when I saw this guy taking pictures of some birds,” said Pi. “I asked him why he did this if he didn’t get paid, and he said it wasn’t about the pay because it was his job and he loved it.” 

Pi and his family, including his dad, who supported his photography development from the very start. (Photo courtesy of Mang Pi)

That random man in Malaysia was the reason behind Pi’s curiosity and love for photography. 

Even though Pi talks about his love for photography, it was not easy to convince his parents to start his career. 

“I got a hundred percent support from my dad. He’s the one who bought me all of my camera equipment,” Pi said.

Although his dad was on board, however, his mom was not. Pi and his mother are very close, but she disagreed with him focusing his career goals mainly on photography. 

“My mom wasn’t really supportive. She wanted me to focus more on school,” Pi said.

“Mang ဓါတ်ပုံ စပြီးစိတ်ဝင်စားလာခဲ့အခါမှာတော့ ပျော်မိပါတယ် ဘာဖြစ်လို့လဲဆိုတော့ အရင်က ဘောလုံးအရမ်းဆော့ပြီးဒဏ်ရာတွေခဏခဏရတော့ ဘောလုံးမကန်စေချင်ဘူး ဓာတ်ပုံရိုက်တာက ကျတော့ဒဏ်ရာ အနာတွေမရှိဘူးလေ။ ဒါပေမဲ့ သူငယ်ချင်းတွေ ဓာတ်ပုံရိုကဖို့ဆိုပြီး အပြင်တွေ သဇိမ်းတွေ မသိဘူးတဲ့လူတွေနဲ့ ခနခနသွားလာပြန်တော့ သားအနာဂတ် ပျက်စီးမှာကို ပြန်ပြီးဆိုးရိမ်လာတယ်။ Mangက ဒီအပေါ်မှာ လမ်းမှားမရောက်ဘဲ ကြိုးစားပြီး လူများသူ့ကိုပိုသိလာကြတယ် ပိုက်ဆံတွေရလာတယ် ရလာတော့၊ စိတ်ချမ်းတာပါတယ်။,” Pa Piang, Pi’s father, said.

(Rough translation:When Mang became interested in photography, I was happy because before, I played a lot of football and got injured every now and then. But I started to worry that my son’s future would be ruined when he went out and about with people he didn’t know to take photos with friends. Mang tried not to go the wrong way on this, and people got to know him better, and he got money. I am happy.”)

Despite the concern his mom expressed, other family members, like Pi’s uncle, encouraged his passion for photography. His uncle was the one who bought Pi his first Sony camera so he could start taking pictures.

Pi loves taking pictures of WEGO’s sports, like volleyball, soccer, football, and basketball. One of his favorite indoor sports to shoot is volleyball: Pi typically takes around 800 to 2,000 photos per game, capturing memorable moments for the players and team.

Mang has shot many videos for our volleyball team and our team is so thankful. He brings the hype to our team and it’s a whole new look for West Chicago Volleyball. He captures the best moments of sports highs. THANK YOU MANG!!!” senior and volleyball player Anna Pinkevich said via email. 

While now a known fixture at sporting events, Pi did not start his high school career at WEGO: he attended his first two years of high school at Wheaton North and still goes – voluntarily – to WN to photograph their sports games, too. 

At West Chicago Community High School, though, Pi’s photography skills were first evident when he shot a hype video of the boys’ soccer team which was published on his Instagram. 

“Mang’s photography brings happiness and joy to our program. Every picture he takes gives the players a memorable experience, a memory captured, and a story to tell. He brings exposure and helps the community stay up to date with the boy’s soccer program,” boys’ soccer Coach Dorian Carrasco said. 

Pi as a baby, before he moved to Malaysia. (Photo courtesy of Mang Pi)

Pi’s story involves more than just photography, though: he has a unique background. Being born in Burma, Pi had to move to Singapore at the age of three due to military conflicts in his native country. After six months of living in Singapore, the family moved to Malaysia, which is where he thinks of when he remembers his childhood. 

“I do miss my friends in Malaysia because that’s where I grew up,” Pi said.

Moving to the United States in the summer of 2019 was hard for Pi since he did not have friends. However, that changed when he started his eighth-grade year – that was the year he came out of his shell, showing people his charm and becoming friends with all his new classmates. 

Pi also did not commit to volunteering to take photos for other teams right away: he was a soccer and lacrosse player back at Wheaton North his freshman and sophomore year. After he realized that his teachers were never informed about when soccer games were occurring, he wanted to do something to change that.

“I don’t really see, like, a student photographer, so I wanted to be unique and do something that has never really been done before and it makes me happy to make someone else happy,” Pi said.

Aside from taking pictures, Mang is a person whose hardships have allowed him to become an open-minded person.

Pi with good friend Anna Pinkevich, also a senior. (Photo courtesy of Mang Pi)

“I met Mang this year in my AVID class, and we became friends right away. He has a big heart and is authentically so kind. Mang is full of life and is extremely talented while also being humble about his talents. I’m so grateful we got to grow close this year because he’s actually so awesome and his energy is vibrant,” Pinkevich said.

Because of the obstacles Pi overcame as a child, he now makes it his purpose to encourage other people to be happy, and keeps an eye out for those who are struggling. 

“Mangဟာ ခင်မင်ဖို့ကောင်းပြီး စိတ်ဓာတ်မကျပဲ အမြဲတမ်းကြိုးစားတဲ့ လူတစ်ယောက်လို့ မြင်ပါတယ်။,” Piang said.

(Rough translation: “I see Mang as a friendly and always trying person without being depressed.”)

In the future, Pi plans to go to college and major in business management while minoring in computer science. 

“Then I want to work in the sports media industry,” Pi said.

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About the Contributor
Alexa Morales
Alexa Morales, Features Editor
Although Alexa is a senior at WEGO, she is the captain of the dance team. Something unique about Alexa is that she was an exchange student in France for a week and a half last spring. Alexa's favorite music artist at the moment is Lana Del Rey. Looking ahead into her future, Alexa is planning to go to college to be a nurse.
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  • Thang ThangOct 13, 2023 at 3:34 pm

    Thanks my brother ???

  • Mr. AielloOct 13, 2023 at 10:50 am

    Awesome story, truly inspirational