VANDERBURGH COUNTY, Ind. (WEHT) – Later this week, a new Miss USA will be crowned, and set to compete for Miss Universe.
This year Miss Indiana USA is from Vanderburgh County and is anything but your average pageant contender.
From the mud of a rodeo to the glitz and glamour of the pageant stage, Eyewitness News Amanda Mueller talked to Tate Fritchley about what sets her apart from the pack.
Most of the time, you won’t find this year’s Miss Indiana USA under the bright lights.
But you will find her in the mud, on a horse, at the rodeo.
“We’d ride four wheelers, ride dirt bikes, you know we’d shoot guns,” 21-year-old Tate Fritchley says of her childhood.
To see a gallery of photos, click the image below.
She is a beauty who spent most of her day in boots before trading in her spurs for the crown in this year’s Miss Indiana USA competition.
“They said my name and I was just in shock. All I know is I saw my best friend, she was in the middle of the audience, she jumped up into the air out of nowhere and my whole family was screaming,” Tate says of moment she was crowned. “It was crazy!”
For someone more familiar with state fairs and barrel racing, it was a moment Tate never saw coming.
“I was like… I would never do a pageant. That was not me. I played sports. I rode horses. Like…pageants were not my thing.”
It wasn’t only Tate who never saw this coming.
“My dad when I was a little girl, he told me…I would never do a pageant. He like …’you are not doing pageants!”
But after she won Miss Vanderburgh County, and then Miss Indiana State Fair, Dad has grown into Tate’s biggest fan.
“He absolutely loved it.”
Last year, Tate competed for Miss Indiana USA for the first time, and placed third runner-up.
“I kind of re-evaluated where I was at and I wanted to try it one more time,” she says.
One more time is all it took.
“I really didn’t know if it was my time or not. It’s kind of funny. They always say, you know, ‘it’s your time’ …or sometimes you need to be more mature or more this, and everyone has their time.”
But it was Tate’s time.
Tate grew up in Vanderburgh County on a shared family property, just steps from her grandparents and cousins.
“You go over to your Grandma’s […] and she takes care of you when your mom gets mad at you,” Tate laughs.
She is only 21, but she carries herself with wisdom beyond her years.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
She talks with ease and honesty about the biggest challenges she’s faced in the pageant world.
“When you’re surrounded by so many intelligent, smart, beautiful women, it’s easy to look at the person next to you and compare yourself to them.”
She says during times like that, one person helps rope in her.
“My little sister, she’s always there to keep me humble. She’s a total cowgirl.”
Tate worked hard to compete in the Miss USA’s interview, swimsuit and evening gown competitions.
“You are asking people to judge you in a swimsuit on stage. So that’s been pretty difficult. […] The interview, I think that’s where you win the competition because it’s more than just a pretty face.”
At the end of the day, Tate knows only one person wins and she doesn’t get caught up in it.
“If I come home with a crown, great. And if not, great too.”
So here she is: beauty and grace, on her way to Miss United States.
“I would’ve never tried a pageant …. but here I am sitting here. […] Go big or go home.”
Tate is in Las Vegas this week ahead of the pageant on Thursday.
If she wins the crown, she will move to New York Friday and stay for a year.
But she says the next big step, like for many students her age, is college finals.