Jan. 20, 2010
SPARTANBURG, S.C. -
Competing in her first pageant since she was in high school, USC Upstate women's soccer player Leigh Ward was named 1st-Runner up at Saturday night's Miss Spartanburg Pageant.
The Summerville, S.C., native has been part of the women's soccer program at Upstate for three seasons and in the fall will participate in her final season as a Spartan. Ward recently talked with Alex Edwards of Upstatespartans.com to discuss her experience on Saturday night.
When did you first get involved in pageants and at what age?
This was my first local pageant in the Miss America System, but I did compete in my high school pageant during my junior and senior year, which would have made me 17 years old when I first competed.
Have you always had success in pageants and do you enjoy the competition?
I had a great experience with my first high school pageant. I won the category of Evening Wear and I also was crowned Miss Junior 2006. As an athlete, I love competition, even if it means I'm in heels and a fancy dress. Just like the day of a big soccer game, I get butterflies from all the nerves and excitement.
What made you want to compete in the Miss Spartanburg pageant this year?
Ever since I arrived at Upstate, I really wanted to compete in the Miss Spartanburg pageant. However, every year I was overwhelmed with schoolwork and soccer workouts and games. I'm still loaded down with the work, but this year I just decided to go for it. Plus, my mom competed twice in the Miss Spartanburg pageant in the late 1970s. So I thought it would be really cool for her to see me do it. She got 1st-runner up both times she competed, so after I was awarded 1st-runner up, we joked about how she seemed to have passed on the curse to me.
Do you plan to compete in any other events this year?
I'm actually planning on competing this upcoming weekend at the Miss Upstate/Greater Carolina Pageant. It will be held on Saturday at Greenville High School at 7:30 PM. It's a double crown pageant which means you have two chances at winning a crown. Once you are crowned in a local pageant, you are officially in the running for Miss South Carolina 2010 which is held in late June/early July.
What advice would you give to someone that wanted to get involved in pageants?
Definitely keep in mind that you are doing it to have fun! Even if you don't win the pageant, it's all about doing your best and the experience of getting out there in front of a crowd and strutting your stuff. You'll make a lot of friends along the way and I promise if you get out on that stage with confidence to solely have fun and be yourself, then it'll be a blast! But if you are really interested in pageants, and you don't win at first, keep trying! It is also a great way to receive scholarship money for school!