Allison O’ Keefe – One Goal

Allison O’Keefe

One Goal

Grand Forks, North Dakota. Winter. It’s so cold you can barely breathe, and 12,000 people don’t care.

They brave the wind, snow, and negative temperatures to watch their beloved University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux hockey team, and they expect a win — because they don’t hang second place banners in their hundred million dollar arena.

In this town children proudly wear the jerseys of 19-year-old superstars; wait hours to collect the signature of those who are college kids one minute and professionals the next. Families plan their lives around hockey – weddings, vacations, honeymoons – and the most common outfit in Christmas photos is the latest Sioux hockey gear.

Over the course of documenting the team’s 2010-2011 season, I discovered an intrinsic need for people to come together around a common goal – the fans, who support their team with passion, the individual, who commits himself, body and soul, to be a member of the team, and the coach who is a mentor, disciplinarian, and leader.

The goal of every team is to win, but this season the Fighting Sioux seemed destined for glory. They had one goal – to win the national championship. And when, just two games from that goal, they ultimately lost to the University of Michigan at the 2011 Frozen Four tournament, there was shock in their locker room.



It was well past midnight and players couldn’t bring themselves to remove their jerseys or pack up their gear. It was then that I realized this was so much more than a game.

It is about skill, focus, and determination, but also, as I learned, camaraderie, sacrifice, elation, struggle, and, ultimately, a twist of fate, a bounce of the puck.

It is also about relationships, like the one between a father and daughter who never missed a game, even if it meant watching from a hospital bed. Or the relationship between friends who have played together, lived together, and fought together.

This work was published by Burn Magazine as a book entitled One Goal in November 2012.

“(…) One of the most interesting aspects of the book is the look into the otherwise-closed-off life of [Coach] Hakstol. Hakstol is stoic and reserved on the bench and for the media, rarely causing controversy anywhere. But his emotional side exudes throughout, as pictures of him with his fists in the air celebrating a win, or embracing his wife or looking after his kids show a personable side that undoubtedly exists, even if television cameras or column inches in a newspaper don’t show it. And that curiosity perhaps makes Hakstol’s presence in the book an interesting twist” – from Timothy Borger’s review on

“As a Minnesotan I’ve spent many hours watching hockey. My University of Minnesota hockey experiences run from ushering at games as a Boy Scout to photographing the Hockey Gophers when I was at the Minneapolis Tribune. I find the book not only gives an intimate and revealing look at the sport, but also does a great job of communicating the cold and bleakness of winter in North Dakota. Nothing is colder than a windy, snowy, dark night on the prairie. ” – Kent Kobersteen, Former Director of Photography, National Geographic Magazine




Allison Davis O’Keefe is a graduate of Claremont McKenna College and the International Center of Photography. Her photography has captured the U.S. landscape in portraits of a cross-country journey, the 2004 & 2008 U.S. presidential campaigns, the apex of power on Capitol Hill, and, most recently, the curiosities of life and sports through the lens of a college hockey team’s season. For nine years, Allison worked for CBS News in New York and Washington, and as part of the team was honored with an Emmy Award for coverage of 9/11 Allison attended the Eddie Adams Workshop in its 25th anniversary year.


Related links

Allison Davis O’Keefe

One Goal


12 Responses to “Allison O’ Keefe – One Goal”

  • Allison
    Congratulations for being published here. It seems all the commenters are distracted at the moment, but I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed this essay, and the work on your site. This is beautifully crafted. I’m not at all a sports fan, and usually avoid sports images, but you’ve drawn me in with this. Many superb single images, a great edit, great story telling. I see a sympathetic eye here, and non of the rah rah jock warrior stuff. Refreshing.
    Nice job.

  • I agree with Gordon.
    Good, different photographs. I like especially those, which give me the impression of being part of the scene.
    Well done!

  • I just discovered this site through James Nacthwey’s Facebook page, and I am looking forward to reading every entry I can get my hands on :) One question though, do you have an RSS feed?



  • Hi Adam! Welcome to Burn.. please scroll down to the very bottom of the page and find the RSS feed for posts and/or comments in the footer!

  • Hi Allison, A great deal has happened since Look. Nice work and congrats on your book…One Goal. Hope to see you at Look this year. All the best.

  • Oh shoot, there it is. Thanks! My brain automatically ignored that text, since I thought it was credits for the web site build.

  • so happy to discover this work here. but i do not see where this book is sold… and since it’s published by Burn, i was expecting to see it under the Burn Books tab to the right. info please???


  • dq
    Book links on Allison’s site

  • Judged by the logic often expressed here by Jim Powers, no one ever need photography hockey again – this essay seems to me to be the ultimate hockey essay. Hell, the ultimate sports essay.

  • Thank you very much for the kind comments – it means a lot.

    Mike – One Goal is a book because of you! – Ed and I will be at LOOK3 this year for sure and look forward to seeing you there!

    dq – the book, One Goal, is available via my site – send me a note: It is also available via

    Thanks again to Diego from Burn for the edit seen here and for the edit of the book.

    Cheers, Allison

  • cool! :))…i’m not that into hockey (even though i live in toronto now) but this is wonderful work…this book would sell like gangbusters in Toronto/Canada!…

    congratulations Allison on a terrific and insightful project done with passion and celebration! :)


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