The beauty is a beastPublished 9:18pm Wednesday, September 26, 2012
PINETOWN — Playing volleyball, basketball and softball at Northside High School for the past three-plus years, Jordan Woolard has been involved in several high-pressure situations. However, none compared to the nerve-wracking experience she went through this summer when she competed in her first-ever Miss Independence beauty pageant.
Think being relied on to deliver the key block or spike in a playoff volleyball game might trigger some butterflies? Try being a six-foot tall female stepping on stage in the midst of career beauty pageant contestants sporting a homemade Big Bird outfit made by your aunt.
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and on July 4, 2012 the Miss Independence voters saw none more stunning than the Sesame Street-clad rising senior as Woolard placed first in the creative expression, ad sales and most photogenic categories en route to earning the Miss Independence crown.
“I was definitely more nervous at the beauty pageant than I am at games. I love games, that’s just where my heart is,” Woolard said
Woolard was prompted to trade in her cleats and eye black for high heels an eye shadow by some of her teammates and said she went full-Big Bird in hopes of, and you can’t make this up, coming out of her shell.
“That was my first pageant, I’m not going to lie to you. I had no experience but I just wanted to do something fun,” Woolard said. “I had a great time and it really helped me come out of my shell. Talking on a stage is not something I’m used to but it helped me and it was a really good experience.”
Shy and perhaps a bit timid on stage, Woolard is nothing of the sort on the volleyball court where the beauty transforms into a beast capable of raining down thunderous spikes on would-be blockers.
“Everyone knows that she’s who we usually go to (for points),” Wagaman said. “We have other hitters too, but Jordan usually comes up with our big ones.”
Woolard, a 2011 WDN All-Area first-team volleyball selection, is a game-changer at the middle of the net as her height and athleticism allow her to dominate on both offense and defense.
While Woolard is best known for hitting screaming spikes, her ability to get down for digs is extremely underrated.
“She plays really good in the back row,” Wagaman said. “She tells me ‘I know I’m tall so I have to get lower than everybody else.’”
Woolard said that out of all the sport she plays, volleyball is by far her favorite.
“I’ve been playing since seventh grade. I have always wanted to be more deep with it and play travel ball but with other sports it’s just impossible. You have to give up everything,” Woolard said. “Whatever college I go to I want to play volleyball there. I don’t care where I go to college, I want to play volleyball.”
While Woolard is a big-time player, she is also the team’s biggest leader and does so in a positive manner.
“She just has a bubbly personality and as a leader she just makes it work,” Wagaman said. “She doesn’t yell at people. She tells them what they need to know but in such a nice way that they don’t get mad at her. They just say ‘ok’ and go and do it. It just makes for a really good leader.”
Her teammates look up to her, both literally and figuratively, and with good reason. Despite her extraordinary volleyball talent, Woolard is beloved for her down-to-Earth vibe, which enables her to easily relate with those around her.
When Woolard was younger Big Bird was the nicknamed bestowed to her for obvious reasons and for obvious reasons it was a moniker that didn’t exactly make her feel like a beauty queen. However, over time she would come to embrace it and now her friends use it as a term of endearment.
“It all started when my eighth grade gym teacher called me Big Bird,” Woolard said. “He said that Big Bird had called and wanted his legs back. I used to hate it but now all my friends call me it.”
So this summer when it came time to figure out what she would do for the creative expression segment of the Miss Independence contest her uncle came up with the big idea. The result was that Woolard was able to take a nickname that carried a negative conation and spun it around and used it to win a beauty pageant.
“It was so hard thinking of something to describe myself and then my uncle was like ‘Big Bird’ and I was like ‘oh my lord.’ I did not want to do it but it was funny,” Woolard said.
When the big day came Woolard stood on stage in all her fine-feathered glory and spoke about how she embraced her once-hated nickname and how she wants to become a teacher and a volleyball coach and create a classroom environment where “sunny days sweep the clouds away’ and then confidently walked off the platform singing the Sesame Street theme song. Shortly after, she had shiny new crown to accessorize her costume.
Now that’s a thing of beauty.