By Tara Bennett
Lacey Sanchez still can’t believe it’s real.
This year’s Miss Louisiana and Baton Rouge native, Sanchez said she’s ready for the challenge her new title will bring.
Sanchez was named the 51st Miss Louisiana on June 28 in the Monroe Civic Center Jack Howard Theatre, becoming the first collegiate varsity athlete to become Miss Louisiana, according to the pageant’s executive director, Dewana Little.
Her platform, “Designed to Move,” focuses on leading active lifestyles, and during her reign she will encourage children to walk away from their computers and exercise. Sanchez was a pole-vaulter at St. Michael High School in Baton Rouge, then at Southeastern Louisiana University and LSU. At Southeastern, she won the Southland Conference pole-vaulting championship in 2010, and at LSU she achieved the third-best women’s vaults indoors and outdoors in LSU history.
Along with her athletic history, Sanchez is no stranger to beauty pageants. On a dare by her Phi Mu sisters while attending SLU, she participated in the Miss Southeastern competition, the first pageant she ever competed in. Sanchez won the SLU pageant and continued to compete, qualifying this year by winning the Miss Lafayette pageant.
DIG sat down with Sanchez to talk about her experiences during the pageant and what’s next for her as she prepares for Miss America.
DIG: How does it feel?
Sanchez: How does it feel? Well, to be honest, it hasn’t sunk in. I know I’m two weeks into it, but everything is so fascinating and so busy getting ready for Miss America that I’m still convincing myself that this is real, and then I look at my calendar and I see how busy I am and I’m like, “Yep, this is pretty real.” But I’m having so much fun and I’m loving every second of it.
DIG: But this is kind of old hat for you isn’t it? You’ve done pageants and the like before.
Sanchez: Yeah, I started in 2010, so when I was 20 and that was my first pageant, and this was my third trip to the Miss Louisiana pageant. I was first runner up last year so I was almost there. This was my last year to compete because there’s an age limit on it. I’ve enjoyed it so much that I couldn’t not come back because I just loved it. I was determined that since this was my last year I told myself, “This will be the last year that you’ll ever be out there doing this again so get out there and enjoy it.” And that’s what I did, I went out there with the mindset that I’m going to have fun and love every second of it, and honestly that was what made the biggest difference for me.
DIG: So you think that mindset was what gave you the edge?
Sanchez: I really do, I really do. I just had fun onstage when we would do a dance, and I’m not a dancer – I have two left feet – but I pretended like I could dance and just had fun out there onstage, and I think it showed through. I think that’s what this is about. It’s just enjoying growing as a person. We all know when we show up that only one person is going to win. We know that. So we just have to have fun.
DIG: We know you sang as your talent, but if you could do any sort of talent, anything at all, without any limitations, what would you choose?
Sanchez: Well, to be honest, I have this really secret dream of being a graceful ballerina, so I would probably do that, but I’m a horrible dancer and that would be torture for everybody in the audience, so I would never do that to them. But if I could dance, I would love to dance, but I can’t. It’s just not going to happen.
DIG: How competitive was it with the other contestants?
Sanchez: Were there the crazy pageant stories that you always hear about forever? No, absolutely not. That’s kind of a huge misconception about the entire pageant world. Like I said earlier, we know as contestants that only one girl is going to walk away with the crown and so we just go in there and we have fun. And we laugh. I laughed so much during our week. We had a great group of contestants. I loved every single moment; it was like a weeklong slumber party. We just stay up late, we have fun, and we eat pizza and just have a good time.
DIG: Were there any embarrassing pageant moments?
Sanchez: Oh yeah, well of course we had a couple of spills in rehearsals in high heels and that sort of thing, but it’s such a camaraderie between all of us that we laugh with each other, and that’s what makes it so fun.
DIG: So you made a lot of friends through the pageant?
Sanchez: So many. In fact over the years that I’ve been involved in the Miss Louisiana organization the girls they start out as contestants, but honestly they’ve turned into my friends. And they’re the people that when I pick up the phone to call someone, nine times out of 10 it’ll be someone I met through the Miss Louisiana organization.
DIG: So what’s the next step for you now?
Sanchez: Miss America. I can’t believe I’m going to the Miss America pageant, but I am going to the Miss America pageant. I cannot wait. I can’t wait to be in Atlantic City on that huge stage and representing Louisiana. I’ve been in Louisiana my entire life, I love it and I’m so proud of it and I want the entire state to see that.