"Beyond Excited:" Kaitlin Gates is Crowned Miss West Virginia
By Julie Perine on July 01, 2012
“I was beyond excited,” said Gates of Bridgeport, who ultimately claimed the title at Friday’s Miss West Virginia Scholarship Pageant at Morgantown Event Center.
“I knew I had prepared and worked really hard to get there, but you just never know what the judges are looking for. Each elimination happened so fast that it was hard to process anything, but I was grateful to make each cut – and so grateful to win.”
Even before Friday night’s finals, Gates had fared well in the week’s preliminaries. Her vocal performance of Journey’s “Open Arms” and swimsuit competition were well-received and her evening wear competition got an early nod from the judges. She was the Wednesday night winner in that phase of competition.
Gates cast an aura of confidence and sincerity throughout the week and those qualities particularly shined Friday night, said Kim Olivio of the West Virginia Scholarship Pageant board of directors.
A picture of fitness, she was a walking example of her platform: “Healthy Kids/Healthy Futures,” Olivio said. The platform is one in which Gates believes and one which she hopes will make a difference in the lives of students in her home state.
“It just kind of came to me. I saw the benefits of exercise in my life and just wanted to share that message with other people and encourage them to start living a healthy lifestyle,” Gates said.
Gates’ life for the next year is going to be quite different, explained Barb Brunetti, board of directors president. This morning, just hours after Gates was crowned, she met with the Miss West Virginia Scholarship Pageant board of directors to go over paperwork and start planning her year-round tour through the Mountain State. Included will be a school tour in which she will be talking to students about her healthy lifestyle.
Gates will also receive her sponsorship car from Superior Motor and supply her measurements for fittings of ensembles provided by national sponsors. And though the Miss America Pageant – in which Gates will represent West Virginia - is still more than six months away, the process will begin right away, Brunetti said.
It will indeed be a whirlwind, but Gates looks forward to every minute. She’ll be taking a break from pursuing her degree in exercise physiology, but when her duties as Miss West Virginia come to an end, she’ll return to WVU, the remainder of her undergraduate studies being covered by the Miss West Virginia Scholarship Organization.
This was her second attempt at the crown.
“I definitely wanted it more this year. I worked really hard and I was very excited that the pageant was back in Morgantown this year so a lot of my friends and family would be able to attend,” she said. “I had a really great feeling this year and knew I was capable of winning. I hoped things would be in my favor this year.”
The months ahead will also provide Gates with opportunity to raise money for the West Virginia Scholarship Organization’s charity, WVU Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Miracle Network.
She has already given that some thought too.
Between 2 and 4 a.m. Saturday, her mind was swirling, so she decided to make some notes.
“I plan on having a get fit day in the fall and have area nutritionists, personal trainers and fitness experts at different stations,” she said. “I want to raise a lot of money for the cause.”
Gates was crowned Friday night by 2011 Miss West Virginia Spencer Wempe. Fourth runner-up was Miss Berkeley County Taylor Martin; third runner up was Miss Northeastern Olivia Staubs; second runner-up was Miss Mountaineer Maggie Powers and first runner-up was Miss Morgantown Makayla Lewis.