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Calender a football fundraiser
by MATTHEW NASH
Delivering knockouts on the football field or finding knockouts for his bright idea - either way, Joe McLaughlin wins.
McLaughlin, owner of Reef Tanning, found a way to promote his semi-professional football team the Olympic Peninsula Eagles with a swimsuit calendar of local women.
"It's all PG. It's all professional. We didn't want anything sleazy," McLaughlin said.
The women are ages 18-40 and students, professionals and/or mothers.
Ashley Hankins, model and office manager for Dungeness Resources, said the goal of the project was to represent strong, talented women.
"It was a fun and glamorous project for a good cause," Hankins said. "Every woman wants to feel beautiful and I think we captured that with our calendar."
McLaughlin said the calendar shows how proud he is of Sequim and the beautiful women who live in it.
"You don't need to go to Hawaii to see beauty," he said. "This calendar shows off the beauty of Sequim with beautiful women in beautiful locations. I want people to see what we have here in Sequim."
Photographs were taken by photographer Amanda Bell in sites with key landmarks like Railroad Bridge Park and Dungeness Spit.
Bell said she had taken plenty of high school senior photos for friends before but never swimsuit photos.
"I got to add my own unique design to things, too," Bell said. "It really takes a certain person to find the right pose and get them to loosen up and really be themselves."
Some of the models admitted to being nervous.
"When they realized it was me and got to know me, it became easy," Bell said.
Each model got to pick her favorites and had final say in what went into the calendar.
McLaughlin said he's been looking for a year for a way to help the Eagles team.
He plays tight end and is a board member for the team and admits they came up a little short financially at the end of the first season, but it wasn't for a lack of trying.
"How many car washes can you have? Bake sales?" he asks.
"This team could be like 'Friday Night Lights,' where people can get behind this. It goes behind the mindset of buy local, buy Sequim and get behind your local team."
For the Eagles to play a season it costs about $15,000 for referees, field use, equipment, jerseys and other supplies. Players pay to play and don't earn any money. For most, it's an opportunity to play organized football past high school and college.
McLaughlin thinks this is a fresh, creative marketing opportunity. He's seeking $200 sponsorships from businesses to appear on the calendar to help pay expenses for the next season.
Marketing opportunities exist with the team's game brochures and website, too.
Print numbers are set for 500 calendars, and McLaughlin intends to give them out for free at Reef Tanning and by distributing them through town.
All proceeds benefit the O.P. Eagles, a nonprofit organization, and a charity to be named later for breast cancer research.
None goes to McLaughlin or his business.
If support is high, he hopes to do a calendar every year.
Women in the calendar are customers and personal friends of McLaughlin.
He said support was so high, he had a waiting list of women wanting to participate.
"Everybody was really on board," Hankins said. "Everyone was really confident. I was definitely excited being a part of it. I'm proud of the women who came together."
Stacy Armstrong, model and mother of three, joined in because she's engaged to Eagles' strong safety Chuck Ellison.
"It's a great commodity to have this team on the peninsula," Armstrong said. "They are struggling to keep it going. Anything that gets the sponsorship out and anything to get the participation up, I'm all for."
She and others said participating was no problem.
"Obviously it's a select audience, but it was super fun," Armstrong said. "Just because you are a mom doesn't mean you can't be proud of who you are. My kids are proud, too."
Sponsorship for the calendar is due by Monday, Nov. 15, for a Wednesday, Dec. 1, print date.
To sponsor the calendar, call Joe McLaughlin at 206-229-5636 or visit Reef Tanning in Rock Plaza at 10159 Old Olympic Highway, Sequim.
For more on the O.P. Eagles, go online to www.opeagles.com or search them on Facebook.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.