Saturday, December 27, 2008

Lynchburg Rotary

On Thursday, December 18th, I had the opportunity to speak with Lynchburg rotary about the Miss America organization and my experience competing in these pageants. Rotary is a wonderful service organization so it's great to partner up with people also interested in service!

Thanks to the club for hosting me that morning!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Top Ten Awkward Pageant Moments

From a contestants perspective, there are several things that happen often in pageants that at times seem unavoidable and at times seem completely preventable! Having competed in many pageants now (hold back your jokes about how long it took me to win last year!) I've compiled this list of common issues and my suggestions. Now, I am not saying that any of the current pageants have been miserable, since that is not the case at all. Just some helpful comments and suggestions!

10. Awkward silence during the crowning. It takes some time to get those bobby pins in, and when there's no music and a small audience, it feels extremely strange when you're either the crowner or the new winner! Try to have some music playing- even if it's cheesy!

9. Having more runners up at the front of the stage than there are contestants at the back. No one wants to be one of the only two contestants who didn't win anything, and it's really uncomfortable for five to be at the front while two girls are standing back there. Try to keep even numbers! I understand wanting to give many girls the chance to place as runners up, but it could really make the two non-placers feel bad.

8. Poorly placed entertainment. The girls backstage don't need the filler of entertainment right after intermission. They need the most time to get ready for talent- girls have to warm up, change into costumes, etc. Put the filler there!

7. The dead time waiting for the auditors to tabulate. Put some more filler there- invite a visiting titleholder to sing, the reigning Miss or Teen to perform her talent, or have the winner do her farewell then. That way, the girls backstage don't have to stand in their high heels for 30 minutes when they're called onstage.

6. Calling the runners up in the wrong order. An honest mistake, but makes things less suspenseful and could be embarrassing!

5. Talent music not working. Make sure you put your music on quality cds, carry a back up, and make sure that it works exactly the way you want it to at rehearsal!

4. Really complicated opening numbers. There are some girls for whom dancing doesn't come naturally, and the girls already have a lot on their minds that night. No extremely difficult dances, please!

3. Wardrobe malfunctions! Practice practice practice in your outfits before you hit the stage. There is nothing more embarrassing than wardrobe malfunctions! And I say this as someone who nearly lost her pants during Miss VA talent rehearsal!

2. Crooked crowns and backward sashes! In the heat of the moment, it's hard to remember!

1. Small audience! I know most people can't help this, but it is so weird to be competing in a pageant with 20 people in the audience! If you're a visiting titleholder, contribute to the clapping!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More Miss VA in the news

Missed Tara on TV promoting the breakfast fundraiser? Check it out at the link below!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Miss VA in the news


Published: December 16, 2008

The reception Tara Wheeler received Monday after speaking to 6th graders at Woodbridge Middle School was nearly overwhelming—literally.

The newly crowned Miss Virginia put on her bravest face when throngs of children a swarmed her for hugs and autographed pictures. Eventually, the Gar-Field High School and Penn State University graduate was able to sit down at a table and sign pictures for the dozens of children standing in line.

Like she did at many other Virginia schools—including Fred Lynn Middle School earlier this month—Wheeler delivered a positive message that included being yourself, not stereotyping people and doing something positive no matter how small it may be.

After Wheeler spoke and took questions for an hour, those who had met her and received autographs were practically skipping down the hall with delight.

Elizabeth Monzon, 11, said Wheeler's talk was "really interesting." Monzon said she was surprised to hear that Wheeler—a self-admitted tomboy—tried out for the U.S. Women's National Ice Hockey team and is a graduate of the Air Force ROTC program.

"I didn't expect all of this," Monzon said. "It was really surprising to hear her express herself in many ways."

Elise Rasmussen, 11, said Monday's experience was "really cool and really inspiring." She said her favorite part of Wheeler's speech is when she talked about being an individual no matter how much you stand out to other people.

Sarah Ervin, 11, said she plans on being nicer to people and to not criticize them as much.

Before coming out to speak to the children, Wheeler sat in the assistant principal's office telling stories about her life after winning Miss Virginia this summer. Wheeler has averaged 3,000 miles a month in trips across Virginia and Washington D.C., stopping to speak at prisons, schools and children's hospitals.

At one school, she received a wristband from a girl whose sister had recently died—a precious gift according to one of the girl's friends. Wheeler also experienced firsthand the love and admiration of terminally ill children.

"[There were] two little girls with no hair that were just beaming, they were so excited," Wheeler said of her trip to Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C. "I got to crown them. They were making these excited faces and wanted me to stay and have a slumber party."

In October, Wheeler finished filming a reality show involving the 52 Miss America contestants called Countdown to the Crown. The show will air Jan. 2, 9, 16 and 23 on TLC. The pageant finale airs live Jan. 24 on TLC.

Thanks to the show, viewers have an influence on who makes it to the finals. America's top top four choices from Jan. 23's voting window will be automatically part of the 15 finalists determined by a separate panel of judges.

With the pageant competition just weeks away, Wheeler said she's trying to stay calm. She already knows whether she's eligible to be voted for by the public but is forbidden to release the information per the contest rules.

Finalist or not, Wheeler is proud of her accomplishments and the chance to positively influence people's lives as the reigning Miss Virginia.

"I will be driving down the road, all exhausted and I will think in my head, 'Oh my God, I am going to Miss America,'" Wheeler said. "They say you are more likely to have a son in the Super Bowl then have a daughter on the Miss America stage. It's incredibly prestigious just to make it this far."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Miss Williamsburg

Last night I had the opportunity to watch the 2009 Miss Williamsburg pageant. The show was extremely well-run, with no "dead time"! The auditors were really fast at tabulating results, too, so the emcees didn't have to stall at the end, which happens at a lot of pageants.

The emcees were two 3rd runners up to Miss America, Kristi Glakas and Hannah Kiefer, as well as Shawn Decker. You may know Shawn from his blog or through his wife, Gwenn, who has judged several local pageants this season and served as the judges chair last night. If you don't know Shawn, check out the website here.

Congratulations to Malissa Sibly, the new Miss Williamsburg
1st Runner up, Stephanie Van Petten
2nd Runner up Emily Hall (Evening Gown, Congeniality, Swimsuit)
3rd Runner up Victoria Maiden (Talent)
4th Runner Up, Heather Baker

We had the opportunity to see Andolyn Medina and Tara Wheeler perform as entertainment! The Williamsburg crew does a great job of providing wonderful scholarships for the ladies!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Miss Williamsburg this weekend

This weekend 8 girls will compete for the chance to be the new Miss Williamsburg. Last year's Miss Williamsburg, Brittany Gordon, was a top 11 finalist at Miss Virginia. This is a great program- I won $750 for being 2nd runner up last year! I'm traveling to Williamsburg tomorrow to watch the pageant and spend some time with my favorite Miss Virginia Beach, Shannon!

Heather Baker- Heather has competed in several locals this season.
Emily Hall- Emily has been second runner up at Miss Apple Blossom and Hampton Newport News. She won swimsuit at Hill City/Star City and Hampton Newport News

Victoria Maiden-Victoria was swimsuit winner and a runner up at the Miss Roanoke Valley pageant in September

Courtney Reed

Malissa Sibley-Malissa was a runner up at Miss Central Virginia this summer and swimsuit winner there

Abigail Staples-Abigail has competed in locals last year, but this is her first this year. She's a lot of fun and has a great sense of humor.

Melanie Torrence

Stephanie VanPetten-Stephanie was third runner up at Miss Apple Blossom Festival

This should be a great pageant with a tight swimsuit competition, with three local swimsuit winners in the mix!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My recent appearances

The last few weeks have literally been a whirlwind as I've tried to balance all my competing interests in life... a demanding class/teaching schedule, appearances, exercising, and spending time with family and friends. I have very quickly learned that life is all about balance!

I had a few appearances this weekend that I'll update you about.

On Saturday morning I headed to Salem for the Gingerbread Festival. I watched other performers then performed my tap dance from Miss Virginia. After that, I talked about me and my platform. Then I read Christmas stories to the children while they sat on stage with me. The kids were really cute and I had many volunteers to be my page turner! Thanks to Traci for this appearance!

Then I headed over to Lynchburg (I've joked about keeping an apartment in Lynchburg because I'm there so much, but luckily I always have somewhere to stay!) for the Lynchburg Christmas parade. We headed over there about 4:30 and Livi, Mati and I sat in the car at 5. I think we were the only queens out there with the top down! It was bitterly cold and snowing all the time, but we really had a good time! The Hill City ladies were very popular with the crowd! Our funny story is that some woman on the side of the route said "You go Miss Hillbilly!" because she thought that's what our signs said. We could have have numerous boyfriends or fiancees along the route, too! We had a good time and it took us a while to warm up.

I was supposed to travel on to Charlottesville to visit a friend but on our way back from the parade we saw about 5 major accidents in Lynchburg. Then my friend called and said there were more accidents between Lynchburg and Amherst County, so I ended up staying in Lynchburg for the night.

This week I have more Girl Scouts and then traveling to Miss Williamsburg this weekend! I am about 9 days away from being done with this semester, too, so I've been swamped with work!

Miss Virginia in the News

Maybe you've read some of the incessant hockey-related coverage of Miss Virginia on On Frozen Blog. On. Anyhow, she was at the Caps' facility this morning, in full Penn State regalia, to face shots from Ohio State's own David Steckel and Sean Collins.

Due in part to excessive numbers of media members saying "This event was made for you!" I boycotted the actual contest, but I did hear her post-shot remarks.

"I only blocked one of Steckel's, but it was a lucky block," she said. "I blocked a couple of Collins's, but I don't think he was trying. I don't think either of them were trying. But they do play in the NHL, so what can I say."

Friday, December 5, 2008

My exciting week

This has easily been one of the busiest weeks I have had the entire semester.

A week before Thanksgiving, I helped out a local Brownie/Junior troop at a store here in Blacksburg called Beadsburg. The girls were making bracelets and necklaces to give to others as gifts. I'll be helping out this group on a regular basis. I had the opportunity to meet two beautiful girls dressed in the summer Sunday best even though it was snowing outside! I had a blast helping them make bracelets.

On Monday, I attended the Blacksburg Girl Scout Service Unit meeting. I am helping out a troop on a regular basis here, and we had to decide what country we wanted to do for a February event. We chose England because I have lived there for a year. I also got the opportunity to meet with several Blacksburg leaders and offer my services up to their groups.

On Tuesday morning, I had a meeting with the director of the Women's Resource Center of the New River Valley. This center provides many valuable services to women in this area, especially victims of domestic violence. The director and I spoke and brainstormed for about an hour, and I've already got the wheels turning here at VT for an event next spring to provide for the greatest need that the WRC has.

On Tuesday afternoon, I drove to Lynchburg to meet with a local Junior Girl Scout troop. These were some of the most inspiring young ladies I have ever met. There are moments as a titleholder that you will treasure your entire year and beyond, and I met a young lady at this meeting that has more courage and spunk than I have ever seen in a ten year old. I spoke to 23 girls about being a good friend, how to deal with anger, and then I answered any questions that they had (which were definitely varied and interesting! Great interview practice!) The girls are even thinking about planning a troop trip to come cheer me on in Roanoke next June, and I am so thankful that I was able to meet these young ladies!

After that, I helped out with a local Daisy troop investiture ceremony. Being a girl scout all my life, it was like stepping back in time, saying the pledge, the Girl Scout promise, and singing the songs. The investiture ceremony is when girls officially become Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, or Seniors. The girls were really fascinated that I had earned my Girl Scout Gold Award and the national scholarship that came with it. At the end of it, the girls argued about who got to stand next to me in the "friendship" circle, where girls squeeze each others hands to say goodbye. Thank you to all the girls!

On Wednesday, I taught my last recitation class for the semester. It was somewhat bittersweet because I've really enjoyed the class and getting to know my students. I had a few students stay afterwards to tell me that i did a good job and that they really liked the class. This is my first time teaching, so those words meant a lot!

Then I visited Prices Fork elementary to meet with a local Daisy troop. We talked about being a good friend, being positive to others, how to have good posture, and then the girls were really excited when I taught them a tap dance step -shuffle ball change. They took turns trying the crown on and then we made thank you cards.

Tonight I am on my way back to Lynchburg for more appearances this weekend. It only gets busier as the semester winds down!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Miss Virginia News

Miss Virginia Takes to the NHL Ice

Tara Wheeler at the RinkOur favorite goaltender, Tara Wheeler, will be making her debut among NHLers next Tuesday, December 9, out at Kettler Capitals IcePlex after Caps' practice, when she'll don her goalie gear and take on Dave Steckel in a shootout. The Big Ten Network will have cameras there for the occasion, as the Ohio State center bears down on the Penn State goalie. Maybe, just maybe, we'll even see Alexander Ovechkin take on Tara.

That could prove to be a shootout mismatch, but knowing Tara as I do, she will be gracious toward Ovi in victory.

On Wednesday I received an invitation from Miss Virginia to attend the Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas next month. Those sort of invites haven't come across my email inbox all that often. The pageant is January 24 -- a Saturday night. I told the beauty queen that I'd do my best to make it out there, and MVN may well be able to secure me a media credential for it. As mid-winter assignments go, there could be worse, right?

Tara then offered what I thought was a terrific Plan B: she said that if she didn't see me at the pageant that I had better be a part of a viewing party back home. So I thought, why not try and organize just that -- a gathering of puckheads, obviously at a Virginia watering hole, the Saturday night of the Miss America Pageant? We could all wear red, as Tara will be rockin' again in a red gown, which she wore when she won Miss Virginia back in the summer.

Oh how I hope one of those Miss America judges asks Tara a hockey question!

So we'll put our heads on this idea. We've got a few weeks. Share with us your interest in such a gathering, and certainly suggest some venue ideas for our pageant-watch.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Quick Update

I am so sorry for the lack of blogging, I hope to check in later in the week! I have 1.5 weeks of class left so I've been consumed with enjoying Thanksgiving and getting through homework. The other reason I'm so busy is such a blessing: I reached out to many community members and the response has been overwhelming! My calendar is filling up more and more every day!
I have about 6 appearances this week, so I will check in soon with pictures and information about these recent appearances!