From basketball and bow-fishing to competing for the crown in the 2018 Miss Kansas Outstanding Teen contest this weekend in Pratt, Danielle Staats has an interesting perspective on how beauty pageants have impacted her life.
Last year Danielle Staats from Pratt entered her first Miss Kansas Outstanding Teen Contest with no idea what was about to happen. This year, she is ready for the good times she knows are coming and she is ready to make the most of her opportunity to compete for the title of 2018 Miss Kansas Outstanding Teen this week.
"I did not know what I was getting into last year," Staats said last Thursday. "But once I started meeting people I just loved it! I absolutely knew this was something I wanted to do again."
Not only did Staats get hooked on the life and times of pageant competition, she decided she would try to put herself in a position to win.
"After last year's competition I was able to connect with a director and I am so happy to have been accepted as a part of Kingman Nation this year," Staats said. "We have phone call meetings at least once a week and we get together in person to work on things like walking in high heels, answering interview questions, just everything we might encounter in pageant competition. I've made such very good friends through this and it just really helps instill confidence and the belief that I can achieve good things in life."
Staats said that working with Kingman Nation girls and their director is something she credits for changing her life.
"You learn that it's okay to be proud of yourself and you make just amazing lifelong friends," she said. "I know it's weird because we are all competing against each other, but we get to be so close because we go through so much together. It's just a great experience."
Staats credits her competitive nature with the fact that she has never really been a shy person. An avid basketball player, she has dreams of playing ball in college on scholarship someday. She also enjoys coaching and working with younger basketball players, something she might pursue as a job someday.
Staats knows about pursuit. She is also a deer hunter, bow-fish sportswoman and confirmed tom-boy.
"I was always super boyish when I was a kid, fishing and hunting with my brothers and dad all the time," she said. "We never missed a Miss Kansas parade and two-years-ago I even sang the National Anthem. I always thought the contestants were so beautiful and that I could never be one of them but my mom encouraged me and said she could see me doing that someday. I guess I kind of grew up into it."
Something else Staats grew up into has become the theme of her platform, Don't Leave Them Alone, They Need a Home. As part of a family that has always welcomed foster children, Staats said her platform was an extension of her heart, a focus on ways to make foster children feel more at home, wherever they are. Staats collected children's books for several months and in the past year has donated more than 500 new and gently used books to the St. Francis foster and adoption agency.
"Many of the books are still being placed in places where foster kids have access to them," Staats said. "Good books are something people just take for granted, but it's one thing that foster children just can't take with them, so it means a lot to me that I have had so much support in this effort. I can't believe it went so well."
Coming into the 2018 pageant week, Staats said all the work she has put in during the months prior is sure to help as she competes in fitness, interview, talent and evening wear competitions this week.
"It's definitely nerve-wracking to go up in front of the judges and know they are critiquing your every move," she said. "But I know they are just regular people and they want us to succeed. They want the best for us. It's our job to make it a hard pick for them."
The Miss Kansas Outstanding Teen competition takes place at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 9 in Pratt Community College's Carpenter Auditorium. As there are only 12 contestants this year, there will not be any earlier preliminary rounds of competition.