Tag Archive | baton

Twirling To The Top

Last night, I had one of those moments where I just stopped, breathed deeply, and thought ‘this is the life!’  My boys, my man and I were all at the pool.. I was listening to them splash and laugh together, while I laid in the glorious sun for a few blissful minutes.

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Then I immediately felt GUILT… why was I just lying there?!? I should have been in the pool WITH them, right?!?  I *hope my guilt was unfounded.. that after a long two months of blog-writing, documentary-producing, news-anchoring, event-emceeing, etc… it was OK for me to sit and relax.

However, there are those among us who never stop.  They use every moment of every day to their full advantage.They rarely take a break for downtime… and in return, every day they are one step closer to the top of whatever peak they are climbing.  They define ‘outstanding’ in their attitudes, goals, and the way they touch people along that journey.

Steffany Lien has spent the last year twirling to the top.

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Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

“It has been a busy year, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way!’ said Steffany, who  next week, will pass on her title as Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.  Anyone who was there to watch Steffany last year (click here to read more!) will tell you how outstanding this young woman truly is.

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Steffany started her year as Miss Nebraska’s Oustanding Teen with media coverage across Nebraska.  CLICK HERE to read her story in the Lincoln Journal Star!

Let’s start with her talent… which is WORLD CLASS.

“I compete with baton twirling,” said Steffany.

OK, STOP.  Steffany doesn’t just COMPETE with baton twirling

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Photo courtesy Blinq Studio

Steffany is a 6-TIME World Champion baton twirler.  Her talent WOWED the crowd at Miss America’s Outstanding Teen (more on that later..) and leaves audiences EVERYWHERE in awe.  Steffany and her incredible gift have been featured by Omaha’s Metro Magazine, by television news outlets, by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, by the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, even as part of the Pegasus Parade at the Kentucky Derby.  This spring, she was also selected by the University of Louisville to be the school’s featured twirler, a highly coveted position including a full-ride scholarship.Folks, that’s $25,000+ A YEAR.

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Steffany has fine-tuned and perfected this incredible gift with years of training and performing, and showcasing her art has been a highlight of her year as Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.

“I was invited to perform for the Big Red Tailgate to benefit the Completely Kids Program in Omaha,” said Steffany.  “Not only was I proud to be the headliner at the event that raised $175,000 to combat childhood hunger and provide after school programs, but Tommie Frazier sang ‘Dear Old Nebraska U’ a capella while I twirled!”

“Performing at the Kentucky Derby and the Pegasus Parade was clearly a highlight of my year,” said Steffany.  “When I signed autographs and took pictures with people at a festival the same weekend in Kentucky, the people there couldn’t have been nicer to Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen!”

CLICK HERE to read more about Steffany’s performance at Churchill Downs, thanks to the Lincoln Journal Star!

As I’ve written about previously, the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen program is the ‘little sister’ organziation to Miss Nebraska, all part of the Miss America Organization.  One of the biggest differences between the Teen and Miss program.. these teens are also STUDENTS.  While their Miss counterparts often defer their college entrance or postpone classes during their year of service, Teen titleholders take part in events and service all year IN ADDITION to their time in the classroom.  Steffany is no exception; in fact, she’s set a new standard for what is possible, even expected, out of these exceptional young women.

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“I dance and compete with Madonna ProActive Dance Team, I teach baton twirling at Madonna ProActive, I’m in National Honor Society, and I’ve maintained a weighted 4.28 GPA,” said Steffany, who just graduated this May from Lincoln Southwest High School.  “Most importantly, I had decided early on to leave a legacy of active participation at charitable events, so this year I performed at, appeared for, and worked at an average of two events a week for the year.  This means that I have participated in over 110 events as Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.  My white sash is now grey, my crown is spotted from raindrops and races, my tennis shoes have logged miles for health runs, and I need new heels!  It has been a very busy schedule, but I have loved every moment because I will remember these experiences for the rest of my life.”

The montage above barely scratches the SURFACE of the photos posted on the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Facebook page, showcasing Steffany’s service this year.  She also returned to Peru on a mission trip with orphans, work she has dedicated countless hours to over the years. (Click here to read more!)

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“When I became Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen, I expected to be out and about in the community, attending charity events and promoting a variety of organizations,” said Steffany, who has volunteered for the Child Advocacy Center of Lincoln, Kids Against Hunger, March of Dimes of Omaha, Food Bank of Lincoln, People’s City Mission, the Autism Family Network, the Alzheimer’s Association, Pinwheels for Prevention, the LSW Parent’s Advisory Council… the list goes ON AND ON AND ON.  “While this was my main focus throughout the year, the part I had not anticipated was how much these experiences would change me and how I view life.”

THIS is the caliber of young woman we want to represent our state, do we not?  And Steffany did, oh so well, at the 2016 Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Pageant in Orlando, Florida.

For the second year in a row, Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen finished in the Top 10 in this national competition, in front of the 2016 Miss America Class and tens of thousands, if not more, online.  Steffany had a clear impact on the audience and the organization, later featured by MAOT on their Facebook page, and drawing wide support from fans across social media.

CLICK HERE to read more about Steffany’s success at Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, in an article featured by KETV!

“Miss America’s Outstanding Teen was amazing, and so different from any other experience I’ve ever had,” said Steffany.  “I loved meeting other young women from across the US, and gaining friendships that will last a lifetime.  I was surprised to hear my name in the Top 10, because every girl competing at MAOTeen was well-spoke, talented, and we had all been working hard leading up to the national pageant.  For me, it was just an honor to be standing among them, but it was also satisfying to maek the Top 10 and be able to represent Nebraska at the competition.”

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Steffany came home from Orlando with $3100 in scholarship money, adding to the $1500 she won at Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.  She also caught the attention of designers Tony Bowls and Ashley Lauren, nationally renowed photographer Jenn Cady, as well as Lincoln boutique The Black Swan, leading to several modelling opportunities throughout her year.

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Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

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“The big events, the fashion shots with Ashley Lauren and Tony Bowls, and all of those wonderful purple bags from the Black Swan Dress Boutique bring me more pleasure than I’d like to admit,” said Steffany.  “However, I had one recent experience that made me understand the real meaning of being an outstanding teen.  Last week, a mom unpacked her daughter’s backpack at the end of the school year.  In it, she found a paper her daughter had written in school after given an assignment to write about someone that is important to her.  I was surprised this quiet, thoughtful child wrote about me.  I had no idea the impact on her values and her perspective about my attitude and ‘kindness’.  And although I giggled that she wrote I am the ‘world’s most amazing teen’, I am humbled and know that the title of Miss Nebraskas’ Outstanding Teen is one that I hold for life and that I better live up to this little girl’s expectations!”

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One year ago, Steffany Lien looked up and focused on her goals and dreams.  While many of us would get tired, and take a break, she kept climbing.. or in her case, twirling.

When Steffany represented Nebraska on the national stage this year, her program’s new directors, Kali Tripp and Heather Edwards, created her catch phrase: #TwirlingToTheTop.

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Steffany Lien has EARNED blissful moments poolside or otherwise.  She IS the top.. the essence of what it means to be outstanding, and a young woman our state will continue to be so very proud of.

JENN CADY

Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

Even now, as the clock winds down on her time as Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen, Steffany continues to put others ahead of herself.

“More than anything, I am thrilled for the next girl who will earn the crown, and can’t wait to see all the great qualities she will bring to this organization and how she will represent Nebraska.”

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CLICK HERE to follow Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Steffany Lien on Instagram

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT STEFFANY?

2015 * Vision For The Future

For more information on becoming a Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen contestant, contact Director Heather Edwards at heatheraloseke@gmail.com or Director Kali Tripp at kalinicoletv@gmail.com.

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The 2016 Miss Nebraska Scholarship Pageant takes place June 8-11 in North Platte, Nebraska.  Learn more on THEIR WEBSITE, FACEBOOK PAGE, or follow ON TWITTER and ON INSTAGRAM.

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PREVIOUS.. SPECIAL FEATURE: Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell!

NEXT.. Miss Nebraska 2015 Alyssa Howell!

To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2015 & 2014, click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!

Vision For The Future

The first time I competed for Miss Omaha/Miss Douglas County, I was contestant #23.  This year, 11 young women competed in the local pageant.  It’s not clear why the numbers are lower than they were years ago, but it is discouraging to say the least for all of us who volunteer.  It’s FUN, it’s a great source of scholarship money, you meet wonderful people; I could (and have, on this blog!) go on and on about the positives women take away from the Miss America system.  My hope is that more women and teenagers will hear about Miss Nebraska, check it out, and see if it’s right for them.

This year, a 16-year old student from Lincoln Southwest High School did just that.

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MISS DOUGLAS COUNTY’S OUTSTANDING TEEN 2015 STEFFANY LIEN

(Photo courtesy of Jenn Cady Photography)

“Baton twirling is one of the reasons I decided to compete in a local competition for MNOT {Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen pageant}, because of the talent portion of the competition,” Steffany told me recently.

Steffany isn’t just ANY baton twirler, she’s a 5-time world champion.

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“I am on the United States Baton Twirling Team, and will represent the US in Italy this upcoming April,” said Steffany.  The junior is also the feature baton twirler at Lincoln Southwest, and teaches baton and dance to children.  Her performance to win the title of Miss Douglas County’s OT was nothing short of incredible, a routine jam-packed with difficulty, including at one point, twirling the baton on her back.

Yesterday, I tripped standing up from my chair at Panera.

Steffany’s grace and skill are widely known; in February, Miss Des Moines’ Outstanding Teen Sophia Aguirre posted on the Miss Omaha/Miss Douglas County Outstanding Teen Facebook page: “Steffany Lien is one of my inspirations in the baton twirling world! I am SO happy she was crowned Miss Douglas County’s Outstanding Teen! I wish her and your program nothing but the best!”

A connection spanning state lines (and state pageants!), hopefully the first of many for Steffany.

“I believe the Miss Nebraska Organization is a wonderful opportunity for contestants to make friends, learn critical life skills, and speak about a cause that is important to them,” said Steffany.

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For Steffany, that cause is vision health for children.  The pictures above were taken last September, when Steffany traveled to Peru on behalf of the Peruvian Lions Club Organization, delivering 400 pairs of eyeglasses to those who need them.  She also spent a great deal of time interacting with children at a Peruvian orphanage; sharing toys, dancing and exchanging hugs.

“When I got there, I saw the great need for health care in South American countries,” said Steffany.  “The trip taught me many things about life, including the importance of vision health.  I would like to do my part here, in the United States (starting with Nebraska), by helping people before they have lifelong vision problems.”

Steffany has also embraced partnerships between the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen program and local businesses,  benefiting the Children’s Miracle Network of hospitals, like Omaha’s Children’s Hospital and Medical Center.

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Steffany at a local IHOP Restaurant for National Pancake Day, and at a local Dairy Queen for Free Cone Day.  Both nationwide events raised thousands of dollars for CMN Hospitals.

This girl is a PERFECT example of the wonderful, symbiotic relationship between young women and the Miss America Organization.  Someday, the little girl in this photo may compete in a pageant because she met Miss Douglas County’s Outstanding Teen Steffany Lien.  Steffany has found another venue to perform an innate gift, all the while growing as a young woman, and person.

 “I have realized it is much more than talent,” said Steffany.  “Preparing for MNOT has improved my speaking skills and confidence, which will help me now and later in life.”

These pageants aren’t about shellac’ing on makeup and waving from the stands; they are about recognizing the young women in our communities who have talent, a passion for service, intelligence AND beauty inside and out.

Do YOU know an Outstanding Teen?

Steffany is.  She’s one of the 11 incredible young woman who want to be the BEST in the state of Nebraska, and will hopefully inspire a new generation of Miss Americas.  They have goals, they work hard, they are driven and they never stop smiling.  That alone should inspire all of us.

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Follow Miss Douglas County’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Steffany Lien

on the Miss Omaha/Miss Douglas County’s Outstanding Teen Pageant on Facebook.  To contact Steffany for appearances and events, please contact omahadouglascountyOT@gmail.com.

Click here for a special feature on Steffany on the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Facebook page!

For more information about how to become a contestant, contact Director Kelsey Ellis at 402-980-1984 or by email at omahadouglascountyOT@gmail.com.

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The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant will take place June 5, 2015 in North Platte.  Click here to visit the organization’s website or the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant on Facebook and on Twitter.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Kool-Aid Days 2015 Brooke Ludemann

NEXT.. Miss Panhandle’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Marie Kliewer

To read more about the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Class of 2014, click on the ‘There She Is’ link at the top of the page.

River Deep, Mountain High

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….

I competed in the Miss Nebraska pageant.  Many moons and many pounds ago.

I loved performing on stage and speaking about issues and causes I believe in.  I will also never forget the amazing show of support I had from my family, friends and even strangers throughout the two years I competed.

Before Miss Nebraska 2002, a sweet little girl approached me with a neon green poster she had created just for me–it warmed my heart, especially considering her older sister was competing, too.  That little girl’s name was Rachel.

 This year, SHE is competing for the title of Miss Nebraska 2014.

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Miss River City Rachel Foehlinger

Rachel has been part of the Miss Nebraska family for more than a decade.  Both of her older sisters, Tina and Tami Foehlinger, competed in the Miss Nebraska pageant in 2001 and 2002 respectively, and Tina went on to represent Nebraska in the Miss America pageant, named as a Top-20 semi-finalist.  Rachel was just 9 at the time.

“There are no words for the impact this had on me,” Rachel told me in a recent interview.  “Not only was I in awe of what she had accomplished, along with all of the other contestants, I was in love with the organization and everything it stood for.  I looked at those young women on the stage and said to myself I want to be just like them when I get older.”

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 Rachel went on to become Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen in 2008.  Her journey continues now as Miss River City, representing the Omaha metro area along with her ‘pageant sisters’ Miss Omaha Payton Merritt and Miss Douglas County Megan Swanson.  Her history with the Miss America organization has made her a passionate advocate for the system and the women who participate in it.

“Never before has there been such a need for genuinely positive role models, which is exactly how I would describe the women I have met through the Miss America Organization,” said Rachel.  “I have already grown so much just by competing that I will be forever thankful to have been involved with this organization, whether I walk away with the crown or not.”

PASSIONATE, STRONG, FUN!

Rachel is no stranger to pressure or to the spotlight.  She is a world champion baton twirler with Sue’s Stepperettes in Ralston, which is owned by her mother, Sue Foehlinger.  Rachel has not only competed and performed since she was old enough to hold a baton, she has watched generations of twirlers train at her family’s studio and around the world.  KETV showcased Sue’s Stepperettes when they celebrated 40 years in May of 2013.  Two other Miss Nebraska contestants, Miss Metro Kim Brennan and Miss State Fair Aleah Peters, are also Stepperettes.

That legacy has earned the Stepperettes notoriety and respect around the world, even drawing local sports guys in to try and learn the art of the baton.  Rachel was on TV again in July of 2011, trying to teach KETV’s Andy Kendeigh how to twirl.. without hurting himself or others 🙂

Rachel made a name for herself several years ago, named as the Featured Twirler for the Nebraska Cornhuskers.  She performed every Saturday during football season in front of 80,000 plus football fans, the fourth Foehlinger sibling to twirl for the University of Nebraska.  Omaha World Herald columnist Mike Kelly chronicled their run before Rachel’s last home game in November.

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“I have spent my entire life dedicating myself to the sport that has given me the drive to succeed individually as well as part of a team,” said Rachel.  “I feel blessed beyond belief to be able to share my talent on the Miss Nebraska stage!”

As Miss River City, Rachel is also sharing a personal message, spreading awareness of skin cancer.  Both Rachel’s uncle and cousin died from melanoma.

“Melanoma is the fastest growing cancer in the United States.  At the current rate, one person dies from melanoma every hour,” said Rachel.  “I spend every day thinking of ways to get the word out it CAN happen to anyone.”

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Rachel says she’s involved in several efforts to raise awareness, including a recently launched campaign called #TheBedIsDead, encouraging people to avoid tanning beds.

(Check out KETV’s stories about why both cancer survivors and doctors fully support the campaignand the impact it’s having on students.)

Rachel is also a student liaison for the Nebraska Skin Cancer Prevention Act, recently passed by the Nebraska Legislature requiring anyone under the age of 16 have parental permission before using a tanning bed.

“My part in both of these campaigns is to spread awareness to youth, high school students and colleges,” said Rachel.  “So many of us have an ‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude.  This is a dangerous attitude, because once you get melanoma, you can never turn back.”

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It’s truly amazing how life comes full circle.  That 12 years after a sweet little brunette presented me with a poster she made, wishing me luck at Miss Nebraska, I would be BLOGGING about her journey for the same title.  That ‘River Deep, Mountain High’ played when Tina Foehlinger competed for and won Miss Nebraska, and Miss River City Rachel Foehlinger will be competing for the same title in June.

Fate? Who knows.  A dream? Absolutely.  Rachel’s ready to bring the crown back home.. and maybe her own poster made by another sweet, little girl.

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Connect with Miss River City Rachel Foehlinger

on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, and on the Miss River City website.

Click here for more information on the Miss Omaha/Miss Douglas County/Miss River City Pageant on Facebook

Click here to follow the Miss Omaha/Miss Douglas County/Miss River City Pageant on Twitter.

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The Miss Nebraska pageant takes place June 5-7 in North Platte, Nebraska.  For more information, visit the Miss Nebraska website.

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PREVIOUS POST.. Miss Douglas County Megan Swanson

NEXT POST….  Miss State Fair Aleah Peters!