If he hadn’t tried to win a gift card, Jourdanton head baseball coach John Conway wouldn’t have ended up in the modeling world. Just over a year ago, Conway, a Harlingen native who started coaching in 2003 and arrived at Jourdanton in 2014, filled in his information and submitted a photo of himself with his family to win a card- gift to Destination XL men’s clothing store.
Conway didn’t win the gift card and didn’t think about it until a representative contacted him a few months later. It turned out that two different models from the company had seen his picture and thought he should be brought in for a photo shoot.
“I get a random message through social media. And it’s a photo producer with a company asking if I was potentially interested,” Conway said. “I thought it was a scam. I said, is there a number to call? They gave me a number and I ended up calling. They said, no, everything is legit.
Shortly after being cast, Conway found out where his first shoot would be. The location was Cape Elizabeth outside of Portland, Maine. Even after being picked up from the Portland airport in a limo, Conway still had to pinch himself to make sure it was really happening.
“We were on a 1000 acre farm on the coast. It’s like a, the thing you see in the movies or the pictures, there’s these big old rocks and the water crashing and splashing,” Conway said. “And I could say that’s a totally different world than the one I live in as a coach in Texas.”
It became real again for Conway long after he returned from Maine. It was then that her friends and family started seeing her picture in stores and shippers. Since he started modeling, Conway’s photo has graced not only stores and shippers, but also posters, advertisements and social media.
“I didn’t know how much they were going to use my photo,” Conway said. “I walked into the store and there was a big picture there and I saw it was there, but I was looking at it a little nonchalantly. And my sons came in and they saw, and the lady [working in the store] kinda looked at me, then looked at the poster and looked at me, looked around me. She was like, looking at me again, like trying to make sure, if I’m that person or not, you know? My youngest son Cage, he says, ‘look, dad, here’s your picture.’ And the store clerk says, ‘oh my God, it’s you’, and she’s like come take a picture.
The trip to Maine was just the beginning for Conway. Even when he coached baseball and football, Conway and the company stayed in touch. The other models Conway has worked with are always interested in how things are going in Texas. Conway hasn’t had a photo shoot in Texas yet, but he did have a photo shoot in Boston.
A typical shoot lasts two to three days. Destination XL pays for Conway and the other models to get there and then takes care of their hotel as well. Models also receive a per diem for food and earn $600 per day. There are stylists on location helping Conway and the other models put on the necessary clothes for the shoot that day. The company also has people to cut hair and facial hair if needed.
Conway brought a bit of Texas to the shoots, providing other Jourdanton shirt designs and answering their questions about life as a coach in Texas. Modeling opened up a whole new world of friends for Conway to accompany his friends from his baseball days and his nearly 20 years as a coach.
“You know, it’s just fun to have like the linemen say, ‘Hey, our coach is a role model,’ or you hear that aspect,” Conway said. “It’s funny, you know, or other coaches will come and say, ‘man, how did you get into this?’ And I’m just like it works like that.
It all started with signing up for a gift card. Conway may not have won the gift card, but he has won a new opportunity and a gig he can do when he’s not coaching football and baseball.
“I’m just lucky. It’s been a great, great experience, you know, and it’s definitely opened more doors in this world,” Conway said. “My heart is in the coaching, but this turned out to be so much better than a gift card.”
You never know what can happen when entering a free gift card contest. Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting lucky.