Friday, March 26, 2021

Shannon Hopkins Visits Section 36!

Photo by Susan Costa
Section 36 has another visitor! Shannon Hopkins is passionate about body positivity, a Disney fan, 
and the current Miss Knox County. I was excited that she wanted to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more.

So, let's see what happens when Shannon Hopkins visits Section 36!

What made you want to participate in the Miss Maine program as Miss Knox County?

 That is a great question, last winter right before COVID hit I was attending a Maine Agriculture banquet as The Maine Wild Blueberry Queen that hosted all commodity queens and the current Miss Maine, Carolyn Brady was a special guest. Carolyn and I really connected over different things, laughed a lot, and we spoke about her opportunities as Miss Maine. I planned on entering the competition for the 2020 year before it was cancelled but held out for a very long time. To be honest, I regret waiting so long to enter, but I thought long and hard about not being accepted, and the fact that there had never really been a plus size individual on the Miss America stage. After multiple conversations with friends and family, I came to the conclusion, I had to do this not only for myself, but for the great individuals of Maine and beyond who feel like they aren’t comfortable in their own skin or accepted for being their true authentic selves. I needed to push myself out of my comfort zone in fear of being made fun of, or laughed at and be Acceptable ME for the individuals that are too afraid to be themselves. In the month of October, I finally took the leap and became Miss Knox County to compete on the Miss Maine stage in June of 2021!


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

I think really the whole aspect of the competition makes me nervous as this will be my real first official big stage competition. I competed at The Union Fair as The Maine Wild Blueberry Queen which was a small local fair competition. In 2019 I won Miss Congeniality and was crowned The Maine Wild Blueberry Queen for 2019/2020. I think one of the most things I'm nervous about is being able to rock and walk in heels, as I’m not a heel kind of gal! Ha-ha. I’m very tall and have never really had a need to wear heels, so hopefully I don’t fall flat on my face! Other than that I’m a very confident person in myself and just want to be accepted for being truly authentic.  

Do you have a specific goal you’d like to accomplish during your time as Miss Knox County?

During my time as Miss Knox County I want to accomplish

promoting body positivity for not only myself, but others. I want it to be known that I’m standing up to break stereotypes based on weight and body image in today's society. I’ve personally interviewed over 200 women about body image perceptions and asked them simple survey questions to find out as to what most individuals were struggling with either present or past.  I feel as society has placed such a standard stereotype on being “big” or “too small” etc. Why can’t someone just be confident in being themselves and others be okay with a person loving themselves or looking a certain way. Why does it always have to be about losing weight and dieting, or anorexia and bulimia. Why can’t we promote a world that is focused on accepting individuals the way they are and to prevent the self conscious minds of individuals. By connecting with these individuals with these survey questions and general conversations, I came to the conclusion all the reasons I needed to make it official as running as a candidate for Miss Maine. The decision was not only for myself but for the others struggling to find their place in accepting themselves and others accepting them by being their true authentic selves. 


How did you select social impact initiative: Acceptable ME?

This social impact initiative that I have founded, Acceptable ME is very important to me because this is something near and dear to my heart.  I grew up with my grandparents and due to childhood trauma, things were a lot harder growing up. I was always defined as an outcast, struggling being overweight growing up and struggling to fit in. I’ve always felt like I haven’t been accepted due to being myself. I’ve always been taller, bigger, and different than most. I’ve always been outgoing, and have had an infectious personality but by being myself, I was always made fun of for something or told to be something I’m not. This often led to depression and anger in myself and others for many years. Once I got to college, I told myself that I would stop allowing myself to feel like a bother to others, and began living my life for myself as my true self. 

Acceptable ME stands for standing up against societal "norms" to break stereotypes based on weight, body image, and diet culture in today's society. Through Acceptable ME we are leading the way for all individuals in today’s society fighting to be accepted for the way they are whether “short”, “tall”, “big” or “small” and to help them stand up against society stating that they can be accepted for themselves and be treated with respect while being authentic to themselves. Another aspect of this social impact initiative I’m looking to bring awareness to is health. By implementing health as another focus, we begin to realize that size and health doesn’t go hand in hand. We always hear “you aren’t healthy you weigh this much..” or “you need to do this to be healthy”, but health isn’t defined by a number on the scale, or the way you look. There is more beyond health and size to living a happy healthy life. I want to help others build the confidence to be themselves and not let their size and what others say hold them back from being their true self, together we will help individuals be Acceptable ME.

You have a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management. What interests you the most about that field?

I grew up in a small town that was a heavy town for tourists in the summer and winter months featuring over 40 places to stay locally owned. In high school I attended a vocational school where I participated in a hospitality program; which consisted of one year of baking and pastry and one year of culinary arts. I was really passionate about the program, but  thought about further ways to expand hospitality. I thought about managing a hotel or opening my own business as one of our teachers owned their own business. By obtaining my degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management and one credit shy of a Business degree at Southern Maine Community College, I really hope to open my own bed and breakfast one day in the future. I attempted to move out of state a few years ago and after a few months returned home. Maine will always be home, and there is just something about the coastline and the comfort of Maine local businesses like none other. I’m so passionate about the great state of Maine as it is like no other state I’ve traveled to, after all Maine is the vacationland! 

After graduating from SMCC as the first person in my family to attend college, in 2019 I began a dental hygiene degree at The University of Maine at Augusta. I wanted something to further my knowledge and I wanted to take a different path. I’ve always loved my dentist and have always thought about becoming a hygienist and finally took the step to begin the education requirements towards that degree. I am currently on a waitlist to secure my chair at the dental clinic at The University of Maine, which is an extremely hard program to get into as they only accept 12 students per year for the clinic. I feel extremely accomplished as I didn’t have the easiest childhood and have always strived for the most learning skills possible. Through my college career I participated in the hospitality and events committee, business club, pre health club, and biology club. 


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

This is an extremely hard question as growing up I had so

Photo by Susan Costa
many Disney favorites! My favorites consisted of: Recess, The Proud Family, Kim Possible, Phineas and Ferb, Lilo and Stitch, That So Raven, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Hannah Montana and Lizzie McGuire.     If I could be a Disney Character for one week it’d be so hard to choose due to the fact that I love so many characters! I guess if I had to choose one I’d choose Kim Possible. Kim is just so cool. I’ve always admired Kim Possible for her “I can do anything” motto. 


How would you complete the sentence, “I get great satisfaction when ___”?

I get great satisfaction when I’m making someone laugh. I contain a comedic, personable personality that makes people want to be around. I’m always telling stories to make people laugh and always cracking jokes! I’m just a fun person to be around. 

If you had an extra ticket to a Red Sox game, who would you take with you? Why?

If I had an extra ticket I’d take my grandpa! My grandpa is a major Red Sox fan, we have gone to many spring training games together and we are always talking to some of the players when they have a chance to interact with fans. We have some baseballs that are signed by retired players which is so cool to say we have them. A few years ago my grandpa got a ball thrown to him from David Ortiz the great Big Papi and I got it signed by Jason Varitek right before he retired in 2012. My grandpa and I always tell jokes about that it is his baseball, but my signature on the baseball which people get a good laugh out of it. My grandpa is just such a huge baseball fan and I’d love to go to an actual Fenway Park game with him. 


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

I’ve surprisingly never been to Fenway. I’ve been on the outside, but never on the inside. I’d love to have a personalized tour at Fenway or even just catch a game and enjoy one of those hat sundaes! I’ve seen the Red Sox play many spring training games down in Florida and I have seen them down in Maryland at Camden Yard play against the Baltimore Orioles as well. I think really anything up close and personal with the team would be cool!


The hat sundaes are definitely amazing! 

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

As Shannon continues her time as Miss Knox County, I encourage you to follow her on Instagram and check out her Acceptable ME Facebook account. They're great ways to keep track of everything she has going on! And if you want to help support her run at the Miss Maine crown, be sure to check out her fundraising page here.

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 Shannon, and good luck!

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Laura Dineen Visits Section 36!

Section 36 has another visitor! Laura Dineen is passionate about adaptive sports, a kinesiology student, and the current Miss Urbana. I was excited that she wanted to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more.

So, let's see what happens when Laura Dineen visits Section 36!

How did you celebrate winning the Miss Urbana crown?

 Winning the crown was such a special moment for not just myself, but for all of my family and friends that supported me throughout my journey in preparation for my competition! After my crowning moment, we all went to a local pizzeria called Pistarros and had dinner. I absolutely love vodka sauce and penne pasta, so I made sure to order that along with a tiramisu for dessert! Being a foodie, it was a great way to end the night and celebrate winning my scholarship and title. 


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

I genuinely enjoy each area of competition because every

Photo by Rebecca Mitchell
aspect prepares me in a different way, both as a person and as a candidate for Miss Maryland. Since I am not formally trained in the performing arts, I do get nervous at the idea of performing my talent in front of a large audience! However, I try to dispel those anxieties by remembering how privileged I am to showcase a unique talent on the Miss Maryland stage. One that empowers women of all ages and abilities to utilize fitness as a way to strengthen themselves intrinsically and extrinsically!


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

I hope to see my community service and involvement with my social impact initiative to have a lasting impact that far surpasses the last two years of service that I have had as Miss Urbana. I would love for my local and state community to continue to benefit from my virtual and in-person appearances that have sought to partner with, educate and assist in the lives of those with disabilities so that they can have greater access to better health and wellness. 


How did you select your social impact initiative?

My younger brother Ryan was the inspiration behind my social impact initiative: “ABLE to Achieve”. Growing up with a sibling that had cerebral palsy gave me so much insight and first hand experience with members of the disabled community and the struggles they often face when it comes to accessibility and inclusion in their local communities. Ryan has provided me with the lens to see many of these disparities and because of his voice, I hope to act as an ally and assist in bringing better equity so that all people can have access to physical activity and the benefits that exercise provides. 


You’re currently studying kinesiology. How do you become interested in that field?

Since I was in high school, I have always had a passion for

health, nutrition and exercise. When it came time for me to decide a STEM pathway for my pre-med major, I knew Kinesiology would be the perfect fit. It is such a practical field of study that teaches you how the body works and the best ways to train it for optimal health. I particularly love debunking myths that are popular in the fitness community! Whenever someone tells me about “spot reduction” or other gym-based myths, I love being able to educate them and help assist in their fitness goals so that they can achieve the results they are looking for without having to adhere to crazy recommendations, such as doing hundreds of sit-ups in the hopes of a six-pack. 


What is your personal fitness routine?

My goal in fitness is not a certain physique or aesthetic, but rather I aim to be able to do what is called function fitness--meaning that I prepare my body for all kinds of activities--such as weightlifting, cardio and everything in between! I never like feeling limited in my training so every week I try to incorporate stretching, heavy lifting, plyometrics and cardiovascular training into my schedule! Most recently, I decided to train for an Olympic Triathlon which has led me to include a lot of long bikes, swims and runs into my weekly gym sessions!  


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

Photo by Rebecca Mitchell

I would be Mulan! As a Puerto Rican woman, I strongly ally with her duty to family and loyalty to her country, two attributes that were heavily ingrained in me since I was a little girl from my mother and grandmother! Mulan is also a warrior and I have always admired her strength and fearlessness to fight for what she believes in. I would like to think that if I could be her for a week I could match her fiery spirit and go on some wild adventures! 


If you had an extra ticket to a Baltimore Orioles game, who would you take with you? Why?

I would take my younger brother Ryan! He is a huge sports fanatic and I know he would enjoy getting to experience Camden Yards stadium and see the athletes. It would definitely be a step above the Big Screen!


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

It has been such a long time since I have been to a baseball game in person! I think the last time I went was when I was twelve years old! I would love to experience an in-person game as an adult and have the American experience: grab a hot dog, be with friends, have good seats and maybe even get the opportunity to throw the first pitch!


That sounds like a wonderful time! 

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

As Laura continues her time as Miss Rolling Plains, I encourage you to follow her official Instagram and Facebook 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 Maryland title. It would be wonderful to have the first Section 36 visitor wear that crown!
Thanks again Laura, and good luck!

Monday, March 22, 2021

1975 Topps Page by Page: Page 51 (451-459)

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 51?

Red Sox Cards on the Page  

1. Yay! Hello there Doug Griffin

Cards that make the 1975 Topps set cool 

World Series cards are absolutely cool. Whatever is going on with Claude Osteen's hat is also weirdly cool. 

My favorite card on the page 

Not a lot of amazing choices today, so the clear winner is the Mario Mendoza. I mean, the rookie card of the namesake of the Mendoza line? That's a fun card to have in my collection.

What would your answers to those last two categories be?

Friday, March 19, 2021

Miranda O'Bryan Visits Section 36!

Section 36 has another visitor! Miranda O'Bryan is passionate about reading, a television reporter, and the current Miss Rolling Plains. I was excited that she wanted to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more. I was also thrilled that she is the first titleholder to visit from the state of South Dakota!

So, let's see what happens when Miranda O'Bryan visits Section 36!

How did you celebrate winning the Miss Rolling Plains crown?
The first thing I did was call my parents! They were at a wedding with some of our extended family and they were keeping their eyes on their phones for updates so I had to call them the moment I left the stage! When I was crowned Miss Rolling Plains, my foreign exchange sister from my junior year of high school was visiting, so I got to spend the evening celebrating with her! We never thought I would try something like competing in Miss America so it was exciting to show her my new(ish) passion. 

What have you learned about yourself as Miss Rolling Plains that will help you when you complete for Miss South Dakota? 

As Miss Rolling Plains, Miss SDSU, and Miss Missouri Valley,

I have learned that I have the confidence and the drive to work towards what I want. My first year competing, it took me five local competitions before I earned my spot at Miss SD. I'm thankful to have had time to grow and be empowered by the women around me. This entire journey has taught me to never stop pushing and working hard. 

What has been the most pleasant surprise about your time as Miss Rolling Plains?

Well it was quite the surprise getting to hold the title of Miss Rolling Plains for two years! I never thought I'd ever experience anything like this pandemic and it's sort of a blessing in disguise but it has allowed me to hold an amazing title for two years and work harder (and longer) towards the job of Miss South Dakota. 

How did you select your social impact initiative, “Page Turners - Fall in Love with Reading”?

I wanted to share with South Dakotans and the judges a piece of myself and I wouldn't be who I am today without reading. When it came down to it, I knew I wanted something that could translate across many age groups from 2 to 102 and reading is a universal thing we can all benefit from. 

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

I love getting to show my personality! Singing is a way for me to express myself in a way that I don't think I can by simply talking. It gives judges, the audience, kids, anyone a chance to see and hear my passion for music. 

You work as a reporter for KOTA Territory News. What’s the best part about that job?

The best part about my job is sharing people's stories. Not only is it my job to share information and facts with the community and state, but I think it's also my job to share the story of the five year old selling root beer floats to earn money for a new bike, or the woman with brain cancer who gets to have her dream wedding for free, or the homeless man downtown who is simply doing what he can in that moment. 

You’re also the in-game host for the Rapid City Rush. What is that experience like?

Being the Rush's in-game host is probably the best part time

job I've ever had! Even though things are different with the pandemic, I get to interact with the crowd and make their hockey experience better than they could have imagined. Plus I've gotten to help with three proposals so far this season, it's so heartwarming and great helping people express their love!

If you had an extra ticket to a Minnesota Twins game, who would you take with you? Why?
Tough question but I'd have to go with my best friend Jourdan! Although neither one of us knows too much about the ins and outs of baseball, I know we'd have a blast! Plus I haven't been to a Twins game in many years, it'd be great to go back and pull out my old Twins baseball cap!

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

So I've gotten to sing the national anthem for high school wrestling, basketball games, even hockey games, but never baseball! If I ever get the chance to sing the National Anthem at a professional baseball game (and maybe even throw the first pitch if I could finesse my way into that), that would be pretty great! Also like the song says, I want someone to buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks! 


I wish someone would buy me those too! 

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

As Miranda continues her time as Miss Rolling Plains, I encourage you to follow her official Instagram and Facebook accounts and her professional Instagram. 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 South Dakota title. It would be wonderful to have the first Section 36 visitor wear that crown!
Thanks again Miranda, and good luck!

Thursday, March 18, 2021

2020 Leaf Baseball Blaster!

OK. First things first. I doubt this actually qualifies as a blaster. I don't really know what to call it. But, with the way retail packs have been disappearing, I decided I needed to grab whatever I saw...even if it was confusing. Here's what I got...

So, the front of the box says it contains one 10-card base set and a slabbed 1/1 proof card. Huh. No idea what that means, but cool. I like 1/1 cards. And, I know who Acuña and Tatís are...assuming they are referring to the ones I think they are.

And here's what the set looks like. I like the 1990 Leaf design. As someone who remembers being "wowed" by the 1990 cards when they came out, I can appreciate the throwback. The set comes in this ten-card plastic case. So, that's it. Open the box and open the case. No packs or anything.

And here's the entire set. As promised, there's Dominguez, Acuña, and Tatís. Pretty cool, I suppose. 

And, here's the slabbed 1/1 proof card. First, clearly "slabbed" doesn't mean "graded". Which is fine. For a 1/1, what difference does it make what the grade is? It's the highest graded version of the card by default. (It's also the worst graded, I suppose.) Second, it's apparently a proof from a 2019 set. I guess that makes sense. I have no idea what sets Leaf made in 2019, and I don't know where "Flash Clear Green" ranks on the hierarchy of 2019 Leaf sets. Nor do I know what the checklist looks like of possible cards that could have been included in this box. I'm fairly confident, though, that this Flash Clear Green Freudis Nova is not the big hit.

Anyone else open any of this?

Was your hit any better?

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

2021 Topps Series 1 Blaster!

Remember when I wrote about bumping into the card vendor? And, remember when I said I'd eventually talk about what I got out of that encounter? Well, if you do, today's your lucky day! And, if you don't, you still get to see some cards!

At this point, I'm guessing most everyone has seen the cards on one blog or another, if not in person. But, what do I think of them? That you might not know.

Until now!

That's the box, just in case nobody has ever shown you one before.

And that's that comes inside. Seven packs, plus one pack with the 70th anniversary patch card. I also like the addition of coupons towards future Topps products. Like any of us will see any of those on the shelves at all this year.

Here's the patch card thingie. Not exactly the best design concept. I much prefer the RC redos they did before.

The First pack yielded this '52 Topps style card of Jo Adel. Which is nice, since the 52' Topps design is never recycled. I always enjoy seeing it in the rare instance it pops up again.

The First Red Sox card of 2021! Although, not really sure this counts. Should probably only consider cards of current players. Not reprinted cards from the past 70 years. Right?

Ok, the First Red Sox Card of 2021! Well, that's not exactly right either.

Here's a base card to talk about. Still not a Red Sox, but I do enjoy Bichette. Again, I'm sure you've heard lots of comments from lots of people already. I agree with some of them. The size of the name is WAY WAY WAY too small! I shouldn't have to pause and stare just to figure out who it is. They finally stop putting the names in foil, and they do this. At least before I could usually find an angle that would work for flipping. With this? Easier to just flip through and figure out the names later. As for the spikey bars? I don't mind them. This one is actually a bit cluttered with the extra "Future Stars" logo. But, I'd prefer the design element going over the picture as opposed to shrinking the picture to fit the design outside. Another complaint is that the pictures are too close. I don't really mind that either. I consider Topps base to be a documentation of the players in the league. So, I like the concept of close up pictures of the players. Save the artistic photos and action shots for Stadium Club.

I honestly don't know how I feel about League Leader cards like this. On the one hand, I enjoy the variety that a multi-player leaders card provides. On the other, I enjoy having another clean card of stars. Except for Yankees.

I like this card a lot. I mean, if you're making a set chronicling a season played in the middle of a pandemic, you need to mention it in the set. This is a good way to do it.

And there is is. Two Red Sox card, but still no Red Sox base. That wait continues.

How did your blaster go?

Monday, March 15, 2021

1975 Topps Page by Page: Page 50 (442-450)

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 50?

Red Sox Cards on the Page  

0. Nopers.

Cards that make the 1975 Topps set cool 

Players from the 1975 World Series are cool, even if they only came to the plate twice. Team cards are cool. Cards of future Hall of Famers are definitely cool. 

My favorite card on the page 

Some great uniform choices today. The Braves, Indians, and White Sox designs are just great. But, I'd be remiss if I didn't go with the McCovey. For one thing, he's definitely one of the all time greats. (If only he was wearing a Giants uniform.) Plus, my first trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame was in 1986, which happened to be the year of his induction. It was also the year Red Sox great Bobby Doerr was selected. While I'll admit I was a bit too young to know much of anything about McCovey at the time (or even Doerr, to be honest) the yearbook I bought had him on the cover. I read and reread that yearbook many times. So, there's always that link with me and McCovey. 

What would your answers to those last two categories be?

What people are reading this week