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Sport calendars provide boost

By Staff
Kim West
Instead of selling doughnuts or setting up a roadblock, the Russellville High School and Russellville Middle School baseball teams cover a large portion of their costs each year by selling color calendars featuring the players and Diamond Girls.
Every baseball player and Diamond Girl is required to participate in the casual-wear contests, which are divided into four Tiger Guy and Tiger Girl competitions at the high school and middle school.
The 12 monthly winners for each calendar are photographed by Ward's father, Daniel Williams, who also shoots the cover winners and back-photo group shots.
The high school contests were held last weekend, while the middle school show is 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 16 at the RHS Auditorium with $5 admission.
"This year we had 32 boys and 21 girls participate, and we had more in the contest than last year," said Tracy Ward, who has coordinated the fundraising project since its inception in 2005 with the assistance of her daughter, Channing, and the baseball boosters. "The guys say they don't enjoy it, but if you watch them, by the end of the show they are having a ball."
Ward, who has been asked to give presentations about the fundraiser at three other school systems, said she learned about it from her niece and her husband, Russellville varsity baseball coach David Ward, who discovered that University of North Alabama male student groups had produced and sold their own calendars successfully.
"My niece did a calendar contest at Winfield for a scholarship, and David got the idea to use his players because some groups at UNA were making guy calendars," she said.
Ward said the baseball program, which includes the varsity, junior varsity and middle school teams, relies heavily on fundraising to offset the variety of costs.
"(The players) don't pay to play so we have to raise money," she said. "We have to pay for the umpires, lights, field upkeep and travel costs. And we have a new facility opening (in the spring), and that will have some needs."
Approximately 150-200 calendars are sold each year, and Ward expects to sell at least 100 this year in spite of the struggling economy. The calendars, which will be available by Jan. 2009, are priced at $10 each and include month-by-month sponsorships by local businesses.
For more information or to place an order, contact Ward at (256) 810-6684.