SI Swimsuit Issue Features Local Woman
The annual swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated hit home with a splash this week.
One of the models is a local girl, and that's not all. She's not wearing a bathing suit or much else - just a little paint.
Bethany Dempsey, who is from High Falls and graduated from Union Pines High School, is one of the wives and girlfriends (WAGS, in SI parlance) of the world's top soccer players in the 2010 issue whose swimsuits are only painted on.
"You don't feel naked," she told Huffington Post. "You look in the mirror, and it looks like you are wearing a swimsuit. The detail is amazing."
A cheerleader and top student at Union Pines, Dempsey attended Furman University where she met her husband, Clint Dempsey, a U.S. midfielder soccer player. The couple married in Southern Pines at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church a few years ago and have a home in Seven Lakes. She is an educational psychologist and mother to their 1-year-old daughter, Elyse.
It took artist Joanne Gair 15 hours to paint the brightly colored bikini top and bottom and team T-shirt fragment on Bethany Dempsey, all there was between the camera lens and her body. Click here for Dempsey photos.
Teachers at her old high school remember her more as a very bright student than just a pretty girl, said Assistant Principal Jim Thomas - and yes, he has seen the famed swimsuit issue.
"Beth was a cheerleader, a top student, they told me," Thomas said. "When she graduated in 2001, the senior superlatives named her as 'smartest in the class.' I wasn't here then, but a lot of teachers remember Beth. She was - is - a beautiful young woman, and very smart as well."
George Griffin, who was the principal at Union Pines then, said he always thought of her as either No. 1 or No. 2 in her class. That was before the magazine's appearance last Monday set his phone ringing.
"Well, first of all, my son called," Griffin said. "He and Beth were friends growing up. He called and said, 'Check out your swimsuit issue.'"
Griffin was visiting his old school Thursday morning, and Sports Illustrated was the topic of the day among the faculty.
"People called and everything else about it," he said. "Bethany got famous in a hurry, I guess, in Moore County. I remember her well, but I only remember her from the neck up. (laughs) She was a beautiful girl in high school and didn't change any, that's for sure."
The impression teachers had then of Bethany Keegan was that she was a very good -student.
"She was definitely smart," Griffin said. "She was (A) very smart, (B) very pretty, and then (C) just a very nice person. I can only say good things about her - went to her wedding. She kept in touch more with my wife and son than me, because my wife taught her. She went to Furman, and that's where she met her husband. They live in Seven Lakes. They travel, travel all over the world I guess."
Griffin said Dempsey's parents, who still live in High Falls, were strong supporters of the school and all their daughter's activities. He said he is pretty sure they are getting a lot of calls nowadays.
Her looks would not have been the first thing that came to her old principal's mind if asked before she hit newsstands this way.
"If somebody had just called out of the blue and said, 'What do you know about Beth Keegan?' I'd have said, 'Well, she sure was smart.' That, that's the main thing I remember about her."
Griffin added that he would also have said all he had heard about her were good things.
"She was a great girl," Griffin said. "She really was. I can't say anything but very positive about her."
His former student's appearance in the swimsuit issue wearing only a coat of paint puts her in a new light.
"Yes," Griffin said, chuckling. "It's paint. That's exactly right. That's it (laughing). It was a different pose than anything, as I say, I remember from the neck up. (laughing) Yes, it is."
Contact John Chappell at (910) 783-5841 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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