The alarm clock rang too early for a Sunday morning. After remembering which state I was in (and which pageant!), I realized today was travel day to International Jr MIss in Nashville, TN. Deep breaths. Take a moment. Open your eyes. Now, get vertical.
After packing up and finally getting on the road, Brayden Zeagler and I make our way toward Nashville, while the rest of the Z-pack clan drive to see Elvis (I have news for you - he left the building already!). Though this road trip wasn't as entertaining as Mawsie's, it was a lovely day with lovely company. I made Spirograph art, we sang out loud and danced in the car, and came up with interesting ways to say new city names. (Hence the title, 10-S-C = Tennessee.) We may have spoken a little too much in British and with a southern drawl. (Oh I do declare!) But we finally made it to Nashville. The Opryland Hotel. Beautiful and massive. This will do nicely.
I'll reside here for the next week while at IJM. But first things first, we need introductions. I know some of you are joining me for the first time so let me introduce myself: I am Erin Husbands, owner and founder of The Crowning Moment. I'm from Baton Rouge but travel the country as a pageant coach to girls from coast to coast. This week 11 TCM girls have come from three states to vie for 6 international titles that will change their life, along with several thousands of dollars in scholarships, free international trips, and more.
First up are my three Jr Princesses: Karoline Molander (TX), Kailah Fresina (LA), & Addison Plauche (LA). (Oh, you should know I refer to everyone by their last name to keep things simple.)
Molander is a brand new 4 year old with other siblings that are part of TCM. She is most likely the youngest JP here at IJM this year. We call her Krazy KK and this is her first nationals.
Kailah will be 7 this month. The Fresina's have been with me for almost three years now. This is Kailah's second year at IJM and almost broke top 10 two years ago.
Plauche is 7 years old and competed last year. I've pretty much watched this one grow up as I have had her since she was a baby.
My three princesses are: Hannah Zeagler (LA), Gabriela Gonzales (CO), & Natalie Reed (LA).
Zeagler is 9 years old and this is her first time at a big nationals. She just competed at LA National American Miss State pageant and got 1RU out of 48 girls.
Gonzales is 9 years old. Two years ago she broke top 10 at IJM and last year she took home 1RU at USA National Miss. She's already held an international title once before.
Reed is 9 and her second consecutive year at IJM. Last year she broke top 10. I've had her pretty much since she was a baby also. She is also my 2017 TCM Girl of the Year.
Now the rest I'll introduce tomorrow but for now let's get back to yesterday. After getting into a room, I scoped out private space for TCM girls to practice while finding the fastest alternative routes for my girls to take during the week to get from their rooms to the pageant. Everyone began arriving and getting settled. Registration began and so did my Skype sessions. As I waited for my client to call, I had a moment to relax. I was in a quiet space with bright natural lighting surrounded by the sounds of massive waterfalls. I closed my eyes for a second to get lost in a daydream. My pageant career lasted until I was 26 years old. For 26 years, I chased the crown and that was my focus, along with school of course. I dreamed to be Miss America one day. But guess what? I never became Miss America. I thought that was the end of my purpose after aging out until someone very close to me said, "You're not done. You can coach. You would be a good coach. You will do that." It was because of this one person who didn't just make a suggestion - they made a statement. It was their confidence inside that statement that made me not doubt myself to take that first tiny baby step. I never imagined I would be "The Crowning Moment" today. Now, I travel all the time. I live out of my car and luggage. I know airports all over the country like the back of my hand. I know all the best gas stations, rest stops, and great sight-seeing country back roads. I meet all sorts of new people every day in my adventures. I make connections. I've been asked to judge pageants, give presentations, judge national interview competitions, work in film, model, sit on non-profit organization boards, and more.
One day I know one of my girls (hopefully several!), will become Miss America. I know this because I tell them the same thing I was told that made me never doubt myself and my abilities. I tell them: "You can be Miss ________. You would be a great Miss ________. You will do that." It isn't so much about which title you use to fill in the blanks, but the confidence in the words they hear.
Then the phone rang. As I opened my eyes, I smiled because, my dreams did become a reality, just not the same way I had planned. Even though I never became Miss America, I kind of live my life everyday just like a Miss America.
To wrap up the day, our TCM group had a meeting before bed. As I spoke to them and looked into each of their eyes, I could see their determination, their ambition, and their excitement of the week ahead. I have no idea how this story will turn out but I do know one thing - it will be epic.