By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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The Saturday evening rally to start the 2014-15 football season, which begins Thursday, was sponsored by the Olympic Peninsula Sea Hawkers Booster Club at Asian Buffet and attracted more than 200 fans, with 35 to 40 children tagging along for the game rally and wedding.
The rally featured music, raffles, prizes and Port Angeles residents Jeanene George and Rob Heagy tying the knot, both for the second time.
No stranger to football, Rob, 44, played quarterback, tight end, punter and kicker at Governor Thomas Johnson High School in Frederick, Md.
Rob, a peer counselor at Peninsula Behavioral Health, and Jeanene, healthy living coordinator for Volunteers in Medicine of the Olympics, met six years ago in Seattle.
They have been together for five years and started watching games 3½ years ago, Rob said.
But the father of four girls ages 4 to 17 said he wasn't much of a Seahawks fan until Jeanene, 37, pushed the idea of watching games on TV.
“I started watching the Seahawks with her, and it became a family thing,” he said Saturday.
“It brought my family really close on Sundays, Thursdays, Monday nights, whenever they play,” said Rob.
“Football brought us close together.
“It gives us quality time.”
That weekly quality time begins when the Seahawks open their Super Bowl-defending season at CenturyLink Field on Thursday evening against the Green Bay Packers.
Rally organizer Damaris “Dami” Rodriguez, 57, said she's been a Seahawks fan since Day 1, in 1976, the Seahawks' first season, and a football fan since childhood.
“That was a little bit odd, because my Dad was Puerto Rican, and his sport was baseball,” she said.
Rodriguez's favorite players included famed quarterbacks Johnny Unitas of the Baltimore Colts and Roman Gabriel of the Los Angeles Rams, the first Asian-American to start at the position in the NFL.
“I've always loved football,” said Rodriguez, a Seahawks season-ticket holder.
“I just like the action and the physicality of it.”
A Port Angeles native and Class of 1975 Port Angeles High School graduate, Rodriguez has organized fan events on and off since she started the team-sanctioned club in 1984.
The club has more than 100 members from Clallam County, and even Cincinnati, Ohio, and is hoping to draw new members from Jefferson County, Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez also organized a women's flag-football team in Port Angeles in the 1990s.
Now, football runs in the family: Her son, Joseph Shideler, 35, is the Sea Hawkers vice president.
Rodriguez raised more than $1,200 in donated prizes for Saturday's family-friendly rally, including sweatshirts, hats, T-shirts, gift certificates and two tickets to the sprint boat races Saturday at Extreme Sports Park in Port Angeles.
The prizes also included Seahawks posters and buttons, and a laser-autographed football from Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.
Events included face-painting, a coloring contest, a touchdown dance, a rap contest and an ice-bucket-challenge fundraiser to fight ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
Rodriguez was the recipient of the ice-bucket downpour.
Jeanene and Rob were the recipients of wedding rings.
For more information on the club, phone 360-457-1392.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.