In just a few short weeks, Katelyn Redd and Covyia Winters will step on stage at the Miss Virginia Teen USA Pageant in Norfolk. More than twenty young women from across the state will join them at the competition that takes place Oct. 21 and 22.
In envisioning that moment, Redd and Winters—both 17-year-old students at Colonial Forge High School in Stafford County—have asked themselves a number of questions: Will I trip on my dress? Will I be nervous? Will I place?
The days leading up to a pageant are a whirlwind of hairspray, makeup, shimmering dresses and wobbling around in high-heel shoes. But all the preparation is worth it for Redd and Winters.
Both are new to the pageant world. Redd entered her first pageant in 2016, and immediately fell in love with it. Her first competition was at a state fair, and she has done about 6 or 7 pageants since then. Most recently, she won the Miss Fredericksburg competition, which qualified her for the Miss Teen USA pageant.
“I used to watch Miss Teen USA pageants on TV and thought it would be so cool to do it, but I never thought I’d be able to,” she said. “Then, one day, I just decided to give it a shot. I like hair and makeup and dressing up, so why not?”
Winters entered her first pageant, Miss East Coast, last year. After getting the feel for it, she decided to “go big or go home” and entered the Miss Teen USA competition. She was ecstatic when she received the news that she had been accepted to the pageant.
“I remember being both excited and nervous because I’ve never done a beauty pageant like this before,” she said.
While Redd enjoys getting dressed up and doing make-up, one of her favorite aspects of pageants is the friendships. Most of her friends are girls she met at pageants. With a dad in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, they’ve moved around quite a bit, from North Carolina to Kentucky and, most recently, Virginia. Redd has lived in Stafford only since 2016. Her friends have eased the transition to a new place.
Winters shares a similar experience. As a military brat, she lived in Germany, North Carolina, Texas and Georgia before moving to Stafford a little over a year ago. But she quickly became integrated in the community and at school where she participates in three sports—cheerleading, track and basketball.
She plans to pursue modeling after graduating from high school, and hopes the pageant will be a good introduction to that career. She also wants to be an optometrist, so medical school may be on the horizon.
As the big day approaches, Redd is focusing on the opportunity in front of her and the potential to cultivate new friendships, which keeps her from getting too nervous.
“I am okay with not winning, so that relaxes me,” she said. “This is my first really big pageant, so I’m going into it to have fun and meet people.”