PHOTOS Meet Melissa McLaney of TLC’s Bama Belles

Melisa McLaney from Bama Belles on TLC

TLC’s new reality series Bama Belles features five women living in the small Southern town of Dothan, Alabama. The women on the show range in age from 25 to 39 and come from diverse backgrounds, including a couple Northern transplants trying to adjust to the Southern lifestyle.

One of the cast members that needs no adjusting is 35-year-old Melissa Mclaney, a stunning former beauty queen and current business owner that was born right up the road from Dothan in Ozark, Alabama.

Melissa McLaney son Gray and husband Frankie McLaney of H2O Sports in Dothan, Alabama
^ Melissa McLaney, her son Grayton and husband Frankie

A seasoned dancer and medical device salesman with a Master’s of Science in Environmental Analysis and Management, Melissa left her career in May of 2008 to follow her dream of owning her own business. After years of planning with her husband Frankie, who was also in medical device sales at the time, Melissa opened the inboard boat dealership H2O Sports.

“In the spring of 2008 I was burned out with my large territory and long hours and realized that I was missing out on so much of [son] Gray’s life,” Melissa says. “Frankie was also in medical sales and needed to travel and our schedules were complete nightmares. I started praying for answers and guidance and soon all the things that needed to fall into place to open H2O Sports started happening. I knew in my heart if there was ever a time to take a leap of faith this was it. I resigned from Medtronic and opened H2O Sports in May of 2008.”

H2O Sports in Dothan Alabama

All the hard work and planning paid off immediately for H20 sports and soon Melissa found herself in need of some help. “I ran the dealership by myself until June 09. Things were going great and business was booming. I needed help and Frankie and I decided that it was time for him to resign and come help me expand H2O Sports.”

Melissa McLaney and her family just after she won the Mrs. Alabama pageant in 2009So husband Frankie joined the business in June of 2009. “This seemed like a wonderful idea,” Melissa remembers, “until the sluggish economy started hitting Dothan and our surrounding sales area. Then winter set in and we realized pretty quickly that it would be impossible for H2O Sports to sustain our family and be able to grow with what was happening in the boating industry.”

So Melissa took one for the team and has returned to her former employer doing contract sales, which gives her the flexibility to make her own schedule and allows her to be there for H2O Sports when needed. Ever the optimist, Melissa sees the economic downturn as just a temporary setback and has no regrets for pursuing her dream to own her own business. “I still hold firm in the decision I made to resign in ’08 and follow my entrepreneurial spirit and open H2O Sports. It was the best decision for my family at the time and has made us stronger both individually and as a couple. I hope and pray that all our hard work and sacrifices will pay off one day soon so that I will be able to be back at the boat dealership full time doing what I love and passionate about!”

Melissa McLaney tries out archery on TLC's Bama Belles

Melissa adds archery to her extensive resume on Bama Belles

There is little reason to doubt Melissa’s optimism because she has spent her life refusing to fail and constantly pushing herself to succeed. In addition to academic success as a young girl, she was also a trained dancer. Starting at the young age of 3, she continued to pursue her love of classical ballet and modern dance through her years as a student at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and Troy University.

Melissa used her intelligence, talent on the dance floor and remarkable good looks as building blocks for a very successful pageant career. Melissa recalls some of her numerous successes on stage: “In high school I was Miss Ozark, Dale County Jr Miss and Miss Agriculture. I placed 2nd runner up in the Miss National Peanut Festival Pageant and 2nd alternate in Alabama’s Junior Miss.”

She is quick to counter pageant naysayers and credits her pageant experiences with helping her to reach so many of her goals in life. “These pageants pretty much paid for all my college education or helped me get scholarships,” she explains.

But her pageant days weren’t restricted to just high school! Melissa McLaney proved she’s “still got it” when in 2009 she was named Mrs. Alabama America! Here is an ad from H2O Sports wishing her luck as she went on to compete in the Mrs. America Pageant:

H2O Sports ad wishing Melissa McLaney luck during the 2009 Mrs. America pageant

Obviously Melissa is an attractive woman, but she explains that her appearance is a just a by-product of her love of fitness. “The ultimate goal of exercise for me is to train the parts of the body that cannot be seen by looking in the mirror. Your outward appearance is just a by-product of ongoing, disciplined hard work and challenging yourself. A strong body leads to a strong mind and a strong independent mind coupled with a unwavering faith always leads to success.”

It’s hard to argue with Melissa, whose strong body, strong mind and unwavering faith has given her a loving family that includes her husband Frankie and son Gray as well as a successful business and a reality show!

Be sure to tune in to TLC Sunday nights at 10/9c, right after Sarah Palin’s Alaska – another show about a successful former beauty queen whose hard work and determination has kept failure at bay. (What do you think? McCain/McLaney in 2012?) Oh, and check out our profiles of the other Bama Belles including internet entrepreneur Val Tignini and the calf ropin’ Army Reservist originally from North Dakota, Stephanie Rae “Dakota” Redding!

web analytics