Friday, May 7, 2021

McKenzie Connelly Visits Section 36!

Photo by Steven Palowsky
Section 36 has another visitor! McKenzie Connelly is passionate about helping the homeless, a talented singer, and the current 
Miss Atchafalaya. I was thrilled that she wanted to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more.

So, let's see what happens when McKenzie Connelly visits Section 36! 


How did you celebrate winning the Miss Atchafalaya crown?

One of the things I love about competing in Louisiana is the immediate sisterhood. Right after crowning, all of the contestants and the visiting queens went to Cracker Barrel to celebrate, and get to know each other better if we didn’t know each other already, as a sort of “welcome to the sisterhood” dinner. 


What part of the upcoming Miss Louisiana competition are you most nervous about? 

I’m the sort of person who isn’t super nervous about thingsuntil I have arrived and it’s finally happening. I’d say right I’m confident in what I have been working on for the past two years and I’m just ready for it to finally be competition week! 


Is there a specific goal you’d like to accomplish during your time as Miss Atchafalaya?

I really accomplished everything I wanted to during my reign as Miss Atchafalaya - making better connections with homeless charities in south Louisiana, working closer with CMNH through Dance Marathon, and creating interesting content that highlights fellow titleholders. I’d say now during my “victory lap” I want to finish the #WomenEmpowermentWednesday highlights for the girls who joined the Miss Louisiana class this year and continue working with those homeless charities as much as I can. 


How did you select your social impact initiative “Heart for H.O.M.E.”?

I’ve actually been working on parts of Heart for H.O.M.E - Homelessness Outreach, Mentorship, and Education, since I was nine years old. I was first exposed to the issue of homelessness through the organization Family Promise for a Gifted & Talented service learning project in the fourth grade. The objective was to find a need in the community and work to assist an organization that helps meet that need. My church had just announced a partnership with Family Promise and I felt like there was no greater need in the community than people living without basic necessities like food, water, and shelter. As a part of my initial service project “Baking A Difference”, I organized a bake sale and helped raise money for the program’s immediate needs going into the holiday season. 


Heart for H.O.M.E. seeks to ameliorate and eradicate the effects of homelessness within our community. Outreach is working directly with local homelessness organizations. Mentorship is mentoring children experiencing homelessness to reach their fullest potential by providing them with the resources they need to thrive despite their current circumstances. Education is educating the public on the realities of homelessness and how they can create positive change in their communities by getting involved and giving back to those who need it most. 


As a talented singer, what do you enjoy most about performing on stage?

I absolutely love the feeling I get when I can step outside of

myself by portraying a character and conveying a story through song. This year I have a very fun and challenging talent, the Queen of the Night Aria from Mozart’s The Magic Flute. While it took me a very long time to get it where it needed to be technically, it is such a fun, dramatic piece. This is one of my favorite pieces I’ve ever performed and I can’t wait to share it with everyone in just a few weeks!


How would you complete the sentence "I get great satisfaction when ___"?

I get great satisfaction when I see the kids I’m working to impact. I recently went to Dance Marathon at LSU’s Big Event and they had several of the miracle kids and families in attendance. Getting to play with and talk to many of the children in attendance made me realize just how much of a difference I can make with my efforts and how the payoff of hard work is so sweet. I haven’t been able to work hands-on with homeless children in a long time because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but I can’t wait to see them all again (hopefully) very soon! 


If you could be a Disney character for a week, who would you choose? Why?

I would choose to be Moana because I love the beach and the ocean and being able to go on a Polynesian adventure to save the ocean sounds like a lot of fun! Fun fact: I actually almost drowned off the coast of New Jersey when I was 6, so I should probably be scared of the water but I still love it! 


You had the opportunity to attend the parade celebrating the Houston Astros World Series championship. What was that experience like?

That was absolutely incredible! My family is full of pretty big baseball fans (we have a fierce Astros v. Yankees rivalry, sorry Sox fans!) so being able to go with them to celebrate a World Series win was probably a once in a lifetime experience for me. The streets were full of people and there was so much joy after the city had been through such hardships with Hurricane Harvey. It was an unforgettable experience and I am so grateful to have been able to go. 


Is there a feature or activity at a baseball game that you’d especially like to experience?

I like the train full of oranges that goes around every time theAstros score a Home Run at Minute Maid and of course the mini helmets full of ice cream! But of course at my home stadium of Alex Box here at LSU, Geaux Tigers!, I love being able to watch a great sport with my best friends and cheer on the Tigers to hopefully another national championship! 


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Mini helmets full of ice cream are definitely a must!

As always, I want to thank McKenzie for visiting with us, and for sending along the pictures to go with the interview.

As McKenzie continues her time as Miss Atchafalaya, I encourage you to follow her on her Instagram account. It's a great way to keep track of everything she has going on! 


I also definitely want to wish her the best of luck when she competes for the Miss Louisiana title. It would be wonderful to have the first Section 36 visitor wear that crown!
 
Thanks again McKenzie, and good luck!

Thursday, May 6, 2021

A Grande Trade Post!

Back in October, I posted about a blaster of Topps Allen & Ginter that I had the pleasure of opening. One of the cards caught the eye of Chris over at Nachos Grande. He recognized it as one he needed, and I was happy to send it over to him along with a few other cards I had for him. He was kind enough to send a package of greatness back in return. I thought it would be fun to look at some of them here.

I hope you agree!

Here we go...


The 1981 Donruss design is starting to grow on me. Instead of being "plain and boring", it's starting to become "classic". The coloring I'm also finding appealing. Whatever the reason, I welcome this change in my opinion.


This Parnell is from the Archives set back when they were actual reprints. While it's not a real 1953, it's still a great addition to the collection. Coming off a less stellar 1952 season, Parnell was a 20-game winner in 1953.


Always nice to be reminded that Dawson was a Red Sox for a while there.


A nice collection of 1995 Score here showing different stages of Red Sox stardom. Frankie Rodriguez was supposed to be the next big thing...right until he wasn't. He went from untouchable in the minors, to being traded to the Twins during the '95 season. Mo Vaughn would, of course, win the MVP in 1995. Roger followed a 9-7 1994 season with a 10-5 1995. After a 10-13 1996 season he was allowed to sign with Toronto to finish out the twilight of his career.


In 1997, Reggie Jefferson was coming off a career year, and competing for a batting title. Well, perhaps "competing" is a stretch. For much of the season, he was among the league leaders...but didn't have enough at-bats to qualify for the title. He wasn't playing regularly enough to get the at-bats he needed. In fact, at one point late in the season he was hit by a pitch that bounced in the dirt first. He didn't attempt to take his base, and the ump didn't seem to realize it hit him. There was always the assumption that Jefferson ignored the HBP because he need the at-bat more. As it happened, Jefferson ended up finishing 8th in the batting race that year, about 30 points behind Frank Thomas.


He also included these cards featuring Red Sox greats Cecil Fielder and Jeff Fassero. Wait...that's not right...


That's better. The other sides of those cards feature actual Sox legends Mo Vaughn and...well...Jeff Suppan. 


Another couple prospects that never really panned out. Trust me, people were excited about Veras and Asadoorian at one point.


People were also excited about this guy. For a long time. Love the way the Gold Label really shows it off. Kudos to Chris for finding a Nomar card I didn't have...that's not easy to do.


And he did it again! Topps Total was a fun brand. A nice clean design.


Chris was nice enough to point out that this card is a SP. Which is good, since there's no way I would have known otherwise. This trade was a big deal at the time. It's also a feature in Moneyball since Billy Beane tried to insert himself into the trade as a way to get Kevin Youkilis from the Sox. It didn't work.


Speaking of Youkilis, here he is on a card with a great design. Makes for a pretty impressive card. Unlike the Ortiz card, which looks like it was cut and pasted together. Literally. By a kindergartener. 


Wally!


While Wells always had too much Yankees stink on him for my taste, always fun to add a Red Sox relic piece to the collection. Does the "Midsummer Swatches" insert name imply this might be a specific jersey? Let's see...


No, not a specific game. Just a regular old generic Padres game. Wait, what? Why would Upper Deck do that? I mean, obviously I know why. But...why?

And there you have it. Trust me when I tell you that this is a small sample of the pile of goodness sent my way. Every last card was very much appreciated.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Eryn LaLonde Visits Section 36!

Photo by Glam Genies
Section 36 has another visitor! Eryn LaLonde is passionate about scholarship, and a talented dancer
. I was thrilled that she wanted to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more.

So, let's see what happens when Eryn LaLonde visits Section 36!

What made you decide to compete within the Miss America Organization?

Freshman year of high school, my mom and I started to look for college scholarships. We came across the Manatee County Fair Pageant that awarded a $500 scholarship to the winner. By winning that title (after three tires), I had the opportunity to compete at Miss Florida’s Outstanding Teen Pageant, and I have been competing since. 


What did you learn about yourself at past competitions that will help you when you start competing again in the fall?

Perseverance is key. Unfortunately, some individuals will play mind games and try to tear you down, but don’t let that stop you! I took a few years off to focus on my family and my mental mindset, and I am ready to begin competing again. 


How did you select your social impact initiative, “Operation Success: Planning and Paying for Higher Education ”?

When I was Miss Manatee County's Outstanding Teen, I

finished my reign with over $2000 in scholarship. Since then, I have met numerous business owners and organizations that have continually donated towards my education. I am currently going into my third semester of grad school 100% debt-free due to scholarships. I have not had to pay a penny out of pocket for my education. I have so many friends who have taken out huge loans to complete their education when all they need to be doing is searching for scholarships. I am making it my goal to provide my peers with the tools they need to apply for scholarships.


You had the opportunity to travel to Guatemala to work in a malnutrition center. What was that experience like?

Freshman year, I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip to Guatemala with Florida Baptist Children’s Home. I worked at a malnutrition Center where I loved and cared for children who were so sick. 60% of Guatemalan children are malnourished. After my first trip, I was unsure of when I would return due to the cost. I took it upon myself to host a diaper drive for the center where I raised over 25,000 diapers and wipes. I was able to return my sophomore year and see the stock room full of all the diapers that I had raised. The people there might not have a lot, but their love for God and compassion towards us Americans is outstanding. Upon high school graduation, I did not go to the typical college track as many of my other peers did. Instead, I packed my bags and went down to Guatemala for over a month as an intern at the center. While I was there, I was able to submerge myself in their culture and personally get to know all of the employees who worked and cared for these children. Today, I have been to Guatemala five times, and I hope to go back once we can travel again. 


What is your personal fitness routine?

One of the main ways that I stay in shape right now is by practicing my talent routine. I recently had the opportunity to go to New York and have my tap routine choreographed by Shea Sullivan.


If you had an extra ticket to a Rays-Marlins game, who would you take with you? Why?

Most definitely my uncle Jeff. I don’t know anyone who is a bigger baseball fan than him. The past few times he’s been in Florida, we tried to plan trips to the game but, it has never worked out in our favor. 


If you could be a Disney character for a week, who would you choose? Why?

Cruella de Vil. Although her character and mindset might be controversial, she has a love for dogs, just as I do. We have three miniature wiener dogs, and my boyfriend’s family has golden retrievers. She might be considered a villain, but she is always stylish and has the best wardrobe! 


Is there a feature or activity at a baseball game that you’d especially like to experience?

I would love to work a World Series Game! This past February, I was hired by the NFL to work at the Super Bowl. I was one of the select few who were on the field with the team, as well as attend all other Super Bowl events that happened that day. Expanding my experience into baseball and having the opportunity to work at a World Series game would be amazing.


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I think "amazing" would be an absolute understatement!.

As always, I want to thank Eryn for visiting with us, and for sending along the pictures to go with the interview.

I definitely hope you'll follow Eryn on her social media accounts, like her Instagram and Facebook accounts. You should also be sure to visit her website. They're all great ways to keep track of everything she has going on! 


I also definitely want to wish her the best of luck when she starts competing again in the fall! Maybe she'll be nice enough to visit again with a new title.
 
Thanks again Eryn, and good luck!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

1975 Topps Page by Page: Page 53 (469-477)

I'm sure that you all remember that I finally completed my 1975 Topps set.

Now that it's done I thought it would be fun to look through the set and talk about it. Going page by page seemed like a good way to go about it. Hopefully you find it interesting to read what I have to say.

How about we continue with page 53?


Red Sox Cards on the Page  

0. Not as much fun without one.


Cards that make the 1975 Topps set cool 

All-Star cards are definitely cool.


My favorite card on the page 

Not much to choose from with a pretty wide selection of rather mundane poses. I'll have to go with Darrell Evans. Love the old Braves uniform. Plus, as a fan of Red Sox star Dwight Evans, I have memories of pulling cards of that "other" D. Evans from packs.


What would your answers to those last two categories be?

Friday, April 16, 2021

Nicole Steinhagen Visits Section 36!

Photo by Akadia Marles
Section 36 has another visitor! Nicole Steinhagen is passionate about ending the silence surrounding suicide, a black belt in 
Shotokan Karateand the current Miss Greater Portland. I was thrilled that she wanted to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more.

So, let's see what happens when Nicole Steinhagen visits Section 36! 

What made you want to participate in the Miss Maine program as Miss Greater Portland?
I have been a part of the Miss Maine organization from the time I was 10 until I was 13. I started in the princess program and participated until I was 13 when I officially decided to compete for Miss Maine’s Outstanding Teen. After a couple of years of losses, I decided to pursue other activities.  The organization is one that I have always loved and admired. Upon retiring from competing in Martial Arts Tournaments, I decided to compete for Miss Maine since it would give me the opportunity to show off my talent. The fact that this year I get to represent the area that I grew up in makes this year even better!

What did you learn about yourself at last year’s Miss Maine competition that will help you the next time you compete?
That sisterhood is the most important part of this organization. I have been able to lean on the sisters I have already met, and I’ve been able to connect with sisters around the country. These girls have seriously become some of my best friends and I haven’t even met them in person. We bounce ideas off each other, stay up until midnight on Facetime, help each other with paperwork, and that is only the tip of the iceberg. 


Do you have a specific goal you’d like to accomplish during your time as Miss Greater Portland?
One specific goal that I have is to educate the Greater

Portland area on the idea of suicide prevention and what we can do to help each other especially as we are coming out of COVID. In Maine, suicide prevention is still very new and I am beyond grateful to pave the path for the future. 


How did you select social impact initiative: End the Silence, Let’s Talk about Suicide?
I grew up thinking that suicide was never going to affect me personally. Five years ago, I lost my grandpa to suicide, and it completely blindsided me. He was my go to for everything and really he was my best friend. The fact that he suffered in silence absolutely kills me. Now I am determined and dedicated to educating as many people about the confidential resources available to everyone, the warning signs of someone contemplating suicide, and what we can to help each other. 


You have a black belt in Shotokan Karate. What got you involved in that activity?

I got involved at the age of 6 when I went to my neighbors birthday party! It was hosted at the karate school and they had classes for us! It was seriously the best birthday party I’ve ever been to!


If you could be a Disney Character for a week, who would you choose? Why?
Princess Anna. Definitely Princess Anna. She is a strong female who didn’t need a prince to save her and she is not afraid to be herself. As an extrovert myself, I love seeing another extrovert in a princess role is so good. These are the women that little girls look up to and want to emulate.  


Portland is, of course, home to the Red Sox AA club, the Sea Dogs. Have you been able to make it to any of their games?
I love going to Sea Dogs games! When I was growing up, I

would go all the time with my family. My favorite was always the fan appreciation day where the players reenact the “Field of Dreams.” Once I got on the performance team at the karate school, we would go and do a pregame show! We once got to perform at a game that David Ortiz was in town for rehab.


If you had an extra ticket to a Red Sox game, who would you take with you? Why?
I would take my sister. Going to any kind of sporting event is always more fun when she is there. Also she’s my best friend and we make any situation more fun when the two of us are together. 


Is there a feature or activity at Fenway that you’d especially like to experience?
I definitely want to go to a Dropkick Murphy’s Concert. I love the Murphy’s and they did a performance at the stadium during quarantine which was absolutely amazing so it’d be more amazing in person, right? 


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It would definitely be more amazing in person! I had the opportunity to see them play a song at Fenway once -- before a playoff game perhaps -- and it was quite an experience.

As always, I want to thank Nicole for visiting with us, and for sending along the pictures to go with the interview.

As Nicole continues her time as Miss Greater Portland, I encourage you to follow her on her title and personal Instagram accounts. They're great ways to keep track of everything she has going on! 


I also definitely want to wish her the best of luck when she competes for the Miss Maine title. It would be wonderful to have another Section 36 visitor wear that crown!
 
Thanks again Nicole, and good luck!

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