How did you celebrate winning the Miss Kosciusko crown?
My family lives 10 hours away as I grew up in Pennsylvania; however, I am fortunate enough to have a mother who would do anything for me and drove out to Indiana to watch me compete. It was so special to have her at the pageant as I was crowned Miss Kosciusko 2022. As soon as the competition was over, I gave my mom the tightest hug; I was just so full of gratitude. On the drive home I called my sister, friends, and previous pageant director from Pennsylvania to share the good news. Once I was finally home, my mom and I celebrated with some Ben and Jerry's ice cream and had a movie night so I could enjoy quality time with her before she had to return back to Pennsylvania. And of course, before going to bed I took the obligatory sleeping crown and sash picture!
What part of the upcoming Miss Indiana competition are you most nervous about?
I am most nervous about the talent portion of the Miss Indiana competition. While talent is one of my favorite portions of the competition it is also one of the most challenging phases due to the nature of my talent. I am a cheerleader and one of my primary goals in the talent phase is to defy stereotypes about cheerleading. Competitive cheerleading is not about popularity and does not align with the "flirts in skirts" stereotype. Instead, I use my talent to demonstrate the cardiovascular endurance, muscular power, technique, flexibility, energy, and enthusiasm necessary to be successful in the sport. My routine starts with a round-off handspring full. This skill requires a lot of space (which quickly becomes scary on small stages), power/energy, and excellent technique due to performing on a stage surface instead of mats. Sharing this routine and my love of cheerleading is a wonderful experience, but it is highly nerve-wracking due to the sheer amount of skills packed into just 90 seconds. Although it can be easy to worry about making a mistake in talent, I have learned through my education in sport psychology, that it is far more important to trust your preparation and to focus on being successful, rather than fearing a mistake.
You previously held a title in the Miss Pennsylvania Organization. Do you think that multi-state experience will help you compete at Miss Indiana?
As a previous titleholder in Pennsylvania, I was exposed to candidates, directors, judges, and audience members as I competed at Miss Pennsylvania and other local competitions. These experiences have developed me into the candidate I am today. Coming into the Miss Indiana Organization, I am bringing these experiences with me and while they are different, the framework of competition both at the local and state level is similar. Therefore, I believe that my previous experiences are no more beneficial or detrimental than if I had always been competing in the state of Indiana.
How did you select your social impact initiative, “#ChooseHealth”?
Growing up I struggled with depression and anxiety due to an abusive home life and bullying in school. At the time, I felt as if my voice did not matter and I had lost all hope for my future. One day I heard an announcement about upcoming cheerleading tryouts. This piqued my interest as it sparked a childhood passion for gymnastics so I decided to tryout. Despite lacking talent, one of the judges noticed my work ethic and potential, earning me a spot on the JV team. I relentlessly worked to better myself inside and outside of practice and in doing so, I developed a passion for health and wellness. This newfound passion saved my life as I found hope, purpose, and began to love myself. The once shy and insecure girl broke out of her shell and flourished into a confident leader. After experiencing the power health has to transform lives, I was determined to help others improve their quality of life. As I furthered my education, I quickly realized there was an undeniable link between healthy living and factors such as disease prevention, preventing premature death, and improving quality of life. As a result of this knowledge, I created #ChooseHealth and the 5 pillars of healthy living: physical activity, adequate nutrition, restorative sleep, mental health maintenance, and the avoidance of risk behaviors.
You’re currently majoring in Sport and Exercise Psychology. Where do you see that field taking you?
After graduating from Ball State University, I intend to seek out a job working with the military as a Master Resilience Trainer – Performance Expert (MRT-PE). After working for the military getting applied experience, I intend to go back to school to obtain a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology where I will conduct research. My long-term goal is to become a professor so I can share knowledge, continue to conduct research, and will have the ability to mentor students and inspire them to make a difference in the world.
What is your personal fitness routine?
My fitness routine varies depending on the season of the year and my personal goals. Typically in summer I take advantage of the beautiful weather and run 5-10 miles most mornings. My favorite place to run is at the beach! As winter approaches, I typically emphasize lifting weights. My current goal is muscle growth and to increase my upper body strength. Lifting weights at the gym makes me feel powerful, relieves stress, and results in an unbeatable feeling when I hit a new personal record. Throughout the year I also train for Spartan Races which consists of resistance training, running, HIIT workouts, and a lot of grip strength training. This past year I earned my Spartan Trifecta, meaning I completed the 5k, 10k, and 21k distance races in one calendar year. Despite my love for working out, even I understand life gets busy and I can't always go for a run or lift at the gym. However, I always make sure I stay active every day--primarily just by ensuring I walk to campus from my apartment whenever possible and always take stairs instead of the elevator.
If you could be a Disney character for a week, who would you choose? Why?
Tangled is one of my all-time favorite Disney movies so I would choose to be Rapunzel before her hair was cut! As Rapunzel, I would have Pascal as my companion, I would have a beautiful singing voice, and I would have the power to heal the sick and wounded with my hair. I would be able to check attending a lantern festival off of my bucket list!
If you had an extra ticket to an Indianapolis Indians baseball game, who would you take with you? Why?
As someone in the Sport and Exercise Psychology major, I know all of my friends would be fighting over the extra ticket, but I would invite my Uncle Jay. He has always been a huge baseball fan as a former athlete and has been such an influential person in my life. He was always the fun uncle who played backyard sports with my siblings and I. I also grew up watching my uncle play baseball in a local church league, so it would be a wonderful experience to watch the Indianapolis Indians baseball game with him.
Is there a feature or activity at a baseball game that you’d especially like to experience?
I have always wanted to throw the first pitch at a baseball game! I have witnessed former Miss Pennsylvania's and Miss Pennsylvania Outstanding Teen's throw the first pitch at the York Revolution Game and always hoped I would have the opportunity to throw the first pitch at a baseball game one day! I certainly will need to do some practice pitching if I ever do have this opportunity!
That would definitely be a lot of fun!
As usual, I want to thank Kayla for visiting with us, and for sending along the pictures to go with the interview.
As Kayla continues her time as Miss Kosciusko, I encourage you to check out her title's Instagram account! You can also follow her personal and fitness accounts. They're great ways to keep track of everything she has going on!
I also want to wish Kayla luck when she competes for Miss Indiana! It would be fantastic to have another Section 36 Forever wear that crown.
Thanks again Kayla, and good luck!