Park City teen qualifies for National American Miss Pageant
November 18, 2016
Beauty pageants are so different than they were 50, or even 10 years ago. In fact, the word "beauty" isn't used anymore.
The new pageant mindset is what Park City High School sophomore Taylor Volmrich discovered when she competed in the Junior Teen division of the National American Miss Pageant that was held in Las Vegas in July.
"There were definitely preconceptions that I had from watching movies and seeing things on TV," Volmrich said during an interview with The Park Record. "I learned a lot more about it by participating."
Two of the big misconceptions Volmrich had were that pageant girls are not very intelligent and are mean.
"The girls in this pageant were extremely smart, and they are very nice people," Volmrich, 15, said. "I met a lot of great people and have kept in touch them and will see them at nationals."
That's right Volmrich's next step is heading to the National Finals to compete for the All-American Miss title at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, over Thanksgiving week.
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She earned enough points in July while competing against a field of 55 contestants to earn the trip to California.
Volmrich placed in the Top five and took home nine trophies from categories including most promising model, miss photogenic, runway model, spokes model and best resume.
"I [had watched] Miss Universe and the Miss USA pageants on TV when I was little, and when I heard about this one, I felt I was ready to jump into it to see what it was all about," Volmrich said.
She approached her mother, Fiona Volmrich, about entering the Junior Teen contest.
"I was involved in the model industry at a modeling agency in San Diego for 18 years, and I understand that world a little bit," her mother said. "So when Taylor received a marketing piece in the mail and brought it to me, I was hesitant, but after reading into it, I felt it was a good idea."
The National American Miss Pageants are marketed for 'Today's girl" and "Tomorrow's Leaders" and awards $1.5 million in cash, scholarships and prizes to recognize and assist the development of young women nationwide, Fiona said.
The program is designed to be age-appropriate and family-oriented. Emphases are placed on the importance of gaining self-confidence, earning new skills, learning good attitudes about competition and setting and achieve personal goals.
"I think it's a really great experience for the girls," Volmrich's mother said. "I also felt if she wanted to do it, we'll go for it, but if we were going to do it, we had to do it right."
The time spent in Las Vegas was a huge learning experience, Volmrich said. In addition to the general competition, she entered one of the optional contests — Spokesmodel — and finished as a runner up.
One of the requirements was writing and memorizing a speech.
The speech had to be 90 seconds long and delivered on stage, under bright lights at a podium.
The speech also had to be memorized verbatim.
"There was one topic about how to better the world, but I went off of that and talked about tolerance," Volmrich said. "The speech was about the general idea of tolerance of all people and lifestyles."
Then there were interviews with the judges.
There were four judges sitting at tables around the room and the contestants got one minute with each of them, Volmrich said.
"They all asked you one question, and, somehow, they were all questions that I was least prepared for," Volmrich said with a laugh. "But I learned that once you start talking, you don't backtrack. You find a topic, think quickly and just go with it."
Brushing up on interview topics is one of the things Volmrich and her mother are practicing the most for Nationals.
The other is her speech.
"I did miss a couple of words, so I will work on tightening that up for the next pageant," said Volmrich, who participated in women's ski jumping. "I have to expand on what I had done in Las Vegas and I had to find the things that I could do better on next time."
While preparing for Nationals has been her focus for the past four months, Volmrich still maintained a 3.8 grade point average at school.
"As a mom, I saw Taylor pull up her math grade by going to math lab every single morning at 6 o'clock," Volmrich's mother said. "There is so much discipline here and as a parent you want to offer their teens all of these different experiences, but at the same time figure out how to fold them all together."
Balancing school with the pageant is like having two different personas, Volmrich said.
"I have my school work and my friends there, but the pageant is totally different," she said. " It's not very easy, but you have to make it work."
Participating in the pageant helped Volmrich, who has studied 12 years of ballet at the Park City Dance Academy, develop her self-discipline to maintain the grades, but also find the insight to learn more about herself.
"I learned a lot about confidence, especially with public speaking," she said. "I learned that I really enjoy public speaking. I enjoyed getting up and showing something that I was passionate about, and I liked seeing how people reacted to what I had to say."
When Volmrich competes in Nationals, she will represent Park City and Summit County and will have the opportunity to win a share of more than $500,000 in cash, scholarships and other prizes, including a 2016 Ford Mustang convertible.
"In some of the categories, I'll be competing with more than 200 girls, and that's just the preliminaries," she said. "But I know these pageants are not all about putting on a dress, smiling and walking across the stage. They are about personal introspection, development and effort."