Xan Hale Rules Over Court And County

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Screeching sneakers and clicking heels.

Beauty pageants and basketball.

The two on a scale are seemingly opposites.

Since the beginning of time, beauty has been judged on a standard. One must look a certain way, dress a certain way, even act a certain way to fit into society's frame of beauty. In the world of pageants and competitions, there is a certain stereotype that comes with it—dainty, reserved, soft-spoken. You rarely think about energy, athleticism and sociability. The same goes for basketball.

Basketball players are considered to be strong, muscular and clumsy. One rarely thinks a pageant winner could be a seasonal basketball player, and vice versa, due to the fact that they are so different. However, both require key elements: confidence and drive.

Miss Vinton County 2013, Xan Hale, is where these two very different but very similar activities intersect.

In basketball, teams spend weeks on end playing games that advance them to the next level, with the hopes of landing them in a championship game.

Beauty pageants are similar.

Girls from different parts of the country compete. They spend weeks, months and sometimes even years preparing to walk across the stage and impress a panel of judges. Many times, a good first impression can decide who walks off with a crown, and who doesn't.

For each queen, they receive their own sash with their name on it. Every pin on Hale’s sash represents something.

The purple crown, which is passed down every year from queen to queen, represented previous queen Linda Dawn Sweany, who passed away, and the purple clover represents Kendall Sweany, Linda's daughter, who passed away in an automobile accident in August.

The rest of the pins represent breast cancer awareness, while another representing Kendall was pinned to her sash. The rest are her own, including buttons on the back that show off school pride and community involvement.

The crown is the perfect touch, the last piece of the puzzle before getting into character as she floats down the streets of McArthur during parades. Her younger court looks on with awestruck excitement, longing for their turn to wear the crown.

Besides her cousin competing last year, beauty pageants don’t run in her family, but basketball is a different story. Hale began playing basketball in the second grade and her love for basketball seemingly runs deep within her roots.

“My grandpa my dad, my mom, and maybe even my great-grandpa played basketball,” Hale said. “It’s kind of always been my thing.”

Along with basketball, Hale runs track and plays volleyball and softball, the latter in which she will do again, since it’s her senior year.

Xan feels that the thrills of being queen of a county and queen of the hardwood are very different.

“The feeling of winning Miss Vinton County was a totally new feeling,” Hale said. “During a game, the excitement builds up every time someone throws a big shot and the points go up, but the pageant was one moment."

The decision to enter the pageant was made on a whim, but its effects have a much more long-lasting effect.  Whether it’s walking across a stage or running on the basketball court, winning and losing is never on Xan’s mind. She instead chooses to focus on accomplishment and giving her best effort.