Monday, February 16, 2009

Ridley Twp. Woman Gets National Exposure in Sports Illustrated 

Posted by James at 6:00 AM ET

By Rose Quinn
Delaware County Times
Forget the Israeli stunner on the cover. Flip to page 158 of the 2009 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition and meet Melanie Fitzpatrick of Ridley Township.

On stands in the Delaware County area today, the 25-year-old blond, blue-eyed nursing student is one of the Top 10 NBA Dancers featured in a surprise layout even she had to keep quiet about — until now.

Sixers DancersA dancer with the 76ers for four years, Fitzpatrick said members of the close-knit team were among the first of many callers when 30 of her photographs debuted on the Sports Illustrated Web site.

“I am very excited. I got to wake up today to see my photographs in Sports Illustrated,” Fitzpatrick said Tuesday night, admitting she’s anxious to get her hands on a print version today.

It was about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday when Fitzpatrick saw her swimsuit photos for the first time. The photos were taken during an exhausting, daylong shoot in New York in mid-September.

Her head-turning photos were actually posted online at midnight Monday, along with the bevy of sexy models the annual edition is known to expose on faraway beaches and other exotic locations.

Anxious to see the real thing, Fitzpatrick admitted she and her boyfriend, Chris Lange, struck out when they drove around Tuesday night trying to find a hard copy of the magazine. Fitzpatrick said a friend of hers in New York already had a copy.

“I’m getting phone calls from high school and college friends,” said the graduate of Merion Mercy Academy and Saint Joseph’s University.

Fitzpatrick started dancing at age 3 and grew up in awe of the 76ers dancers when she attended the games. A member of the Saint Joe’s dance team for three years, she said trying out for the 76ers dancers was a natural progression.

From the phone call from the head of operations for the 76ers telling her that she was chosen for the layout back in May, to the actual photo shoot in New York, Fitzpatrick said it’s been an amazing experience.

“This has just been an invaluable opportunity,” she said. “I am still taking it all in.”

She said she couldn’t be happier with the selection of photographs.

“They take so many and you have no idea what they are going to use,” she said.

Compensation for the magazine shoot was minimal, mostly traveling fees, she said.

The 10 NBA dancers all stayed at Warwick Hotel. The shoot was at Pier 31, overlooking the Hudson River.

The “unveiling” of the designer swimsuits was especially exciting, Fitzpatrick said.

“It was a big surprise,” she said of the red, white and blue number, designed by Melissa Odabash and valued at $1,050. “I was lucky, it fit right off the hanger.”

Fitzpatrick thought her swimsuit — which weighed about 15 pounds — was the most glitzy of the bunch and was representative of the 76ers because, like the basketball team, it stood out.

And yes, she gets to keep the suit. She’s planning to frame it.

At 5 feet 6 inches and 115 pounds, Fitzpatrick would be remiss if she didn’t acknowledge her parents, Mike and Judy Fitzpatrick, for her good genes. Not to mention their support.

Fitzpatrick said dance practice twice a week, regular trips to the gym and a healthy diet help keep her in swimsuit shape.

[Melanie's Sports Illustrated Gallery]

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