Athlete's project nets $4,500 for relief fund
Assistant News Editor
In addition to posters and Coca Cola bottles among other things, the women's basketball team can add calendars to the list of items fans want the players to sign.
During the 2001 fall semester when junior guard Karen Swanson was presented with her management professor's "$20 challenge" to establish an entrepreneurial project, she came up with an idea after some deliberation. The next hurdle was convincing her hesitant teammates to be featured in calendars that would be sold to the public.
"I was trying to find some way to get the team involved and also use my background in photography," said Swanson who became interested in photography during her senior year of high school. "They were kind of skeptical at first."
After much coaxing, Swanson said she was able to convince her teammates to pose for pictures around campus for the calendar. Swanson, like all students enrolled in Professor David Hayes' Management 320 class, "Introduction to Entrepreneurship," received a $20 loan to establish her product.
"I wanted to show the women's basketball team in a light that people aren't used to seeing us in," said Swanson. "We wanted people to see us out of our uniforms and out of our sweats."
Swanson said she began to realize how impressed others were when the ladies of the team donned more formal attire during last year's banquet at the end of the season.
"Some of the fans were saying how different we looked dressed up," said Swanson.
The finished product includes pictures photographed by Swanson of campus scenes with each player in dress clothes for the month of January 2002 to January 2003. Although the calendar focuses on the women's basketball team, her project has a more philanthropic goal. Swanson plans to donate all of the proceeds to the New York City Children's Relief Fund which provides aid to children who witnessed the attacks of Sept. 11 or were near Ground Zero, as well as the schools close to the area.
Because of NCAA guideines, Swanson would not have been able to keep the profit even if she wanted to. For this reason, she had to present her project idea to the NCAA compliance field of the Notre Dame athletic department in addition to the Notre Dame licensing department and Student Activities to obtain a vendor's license.
Lithotone, Inc., a local printing company in Elkhart, Ind., decided to print the calendars free of charge because of the charitable cause as well as Swanson's creativity.
Many of the patrons who have supported Swanson's project have been local fans from Notre Dame and the surrounding communities.
"Every amount that the customer pays is returned to us in full," said Swanson.
Students in the Management 320 fall semester class had to earn $140 from their products and services by the end of the semester. So far, with a profit of about $4,500, Swanson is well in excess of the amount, but the calendars will continue to be sold at women's basketball home games until all remaining calendars of the original 1,100 are gone. Swanson recently reduced the price of the calendars from $10 each to $5 to increase purchases.
Unlike some of her teammates, freshman center Teresa Borton said she was immediately excited about the calendar when Swanson pitched the idea.
"[I thought] it would be kind of fun to get out of your basketball clothes and dress up," Borton said.
She and freshman guard Jill Krause went with Swanson to shoot their pictures on the same day.
"It was fun," said Borton. "We were just goofing off."
Borton said basketball fans have responded positively to the calendars.
"A lot of people have asked us to sign them," said Borton. "Anything with women's basketball they really like."
All News Stories for Thursday, January 17, 2002