Confidence – it could be the difference between first or second place, nailing or flubbing that interview, an Oscar or just a nomination.
Summer Davis has learned a lot about confidence. Her early high school days were awkward, her voice was quiet. When Davis discovered baton twirling, all that changed.
Now, with the help of Miss Pennsylvania hopeful Brittany Marcolini, she’s helping young girls from the Northern Cambria area find their assured selves and shine on stage.
Last summer, Davis began coaching the Diamond Twirlers, a baton squad of kids hailing from four different school districts and ranging in age from 4 to 16 years old.
There are 28 twirlers, although she said she didn’t expect to have such a large class.
“This was supposed to be a small marching group – something to pass the time,” said Davis, who is a stay-at-home mom. “I just thought, ‘We’ll see if anybody wants to compete. If I get 15 (kids), I’ll be thrilled.’ And I had almost 50 sign up.”
They meet weekly at the Northern Cambria Slovak Club along Philadelphia Avenue and the group is entirely nonprofit, accepting dues only to curb the cost of renting out the club.
“When creating the group, it was my top priority to make it as low-cost as possible, because I think that twirling is something that should be available to everyone,” Davis said.
“Beyond the grace and agility they’ll learn, it gives them skills they can use in life,” she said. “Twirling can take them far.”
She hopes the example Marcolini will set for her girls will drive that point home. The two met after Marcolini’s baton performance in a Christmas pageant.
“I thought it would be cool if she could come talk to us (about confidence) because that is (my girls’) biggest hurdle – confidence,” said Davis, adding that Marcolini was more than thrilled to be involved, although it is her first time addressing a group of youngsters.
The 23-year-old Miss Allegheny Valley used her twirling background to help build her pageant repertoire and routines. She said high school wasn’t an easy time for her either, and she latched onto the sport.
“I wasn’t always the most confident of people. I was bullied a lot in school,” Marcolini said. “This is one of those things that has given me confidence. It’s improved so much through the years.”
Now working her way up the pageant circuit, Marcolini is looking for ways to apply her platform of fitness and good self-image.
Although Davis offered payment for her appearance, Marcolini said she declined in favor of a donation to the Children’s Miracle Network, for which Marcolini raised $2,500 during a dance marathon she organized last year.
“The humanitarian aspect is, I think, the most important. That’s the great thing about competing in beauty pageants – your crown becomes a mouthpiece and you can really use it to help people out,” she said.
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