Want to see photos from Rhonda’s Year as the national Pure American Ms. Elegance queen? Click here!
How did you become an expert pageant coach and what’s your pageant background?
At age 5, my mom brought home a full length royal blue, crushed velvet dress she had borrowed from my cousin. To complete the outfit, she also had long white gloves, white patent leather shoes and a beautiful pearl headband. The ensemble was now fit for a princess. She announced that I was going to be in the local Snow Queen contest. I had no idea what that meant, but I loved the outfit and I was very excited to get all dressed up.
Besides the thrill of being on stage under the bright lights, walking down the long runway, the laughter/cheering of the audience, and receiving a brand new silver dollar from gigantic snowmen (OK, the businessmen who dressed as snowmen were a bit scary at the time), what I remember most about the evening was the special time I had with my family, feeling good about who I was, and most definitely wanting to do it again! Yes, I was hooked and that was the beginning of a lifetime of pageantry.
As a teen, I won four local and state titles, and enjoyed every aspect of pageantry. For me, each pageant was a time for self discovery, family bonding and so much fun. Most of my fondest memories and closest relationships stem from my years in pageantry.
After the birth of my third daughter, I discovered the world of pageantry for married women. Nothing will motivate a woman to shed that baby fat more than having to wear a bathing suit in front of an audience. With the exceptions of my first and last, of the eleven pageants I participated in, I always placed in the top five. I was honored to receive the state title of Mrs. Ohio America 2005 (www.MrsOhioAmerica2005.com), and the national title of Ms. American Women Over 30. During this decade of my life, I also became an experienced judge; a polished emcee/public speaker; and a pageant staff member. Hoping to help others receive the same joys and life skills that I developed when working with my pageant coach, I started pageant coaching on the side.
The whole time I was doing this my daughters watched my every move, participated in my public appearances, and grew up. At ages 11, 9 and 7, they expressed an interest in trying pageants for themselves. They started as festival queens and moved up to Cinderella state titleholders. At first it felt odd to be the mother of pageant participants, realizing the circle of life had begun. But it was a natural progression as our family continued our journey with pageantry in a style that focused on balance, personal development, quality family time and service to others.
My transition from hobby status into professional pageant coaching began when my daughters and I attended an international pageant in Las Vegas. Although I had seen negative pageant behavior on TV shows, it was the first time I had personally witnessed the devastating effects a demanding mother could have on her daughter’s self esteem and self worth. I was in absolute shock over what I was seeing and hearing. I didn’t personally know that mother/daughter team; however, I did know there was going to be long lasting consequences not only to that little 8 year old girl’s self image, but to their relationship as well.
When I came back, I started exploring how I could use my decades of deep expertise of the industry to help contestants experience the fullness of pageantry and strengthen their relationships in life. With that, I created Winning Through Pageantry®.
What makes you different from other pageant coaches?
The pageant contestants I have coached know what sets them apart from the others. They are thoroughly prepared, and experience less drama in their lives.
Coaching isn’t a hobby of mine or something I do on the side. While being a full time Certified Professional Coach and an Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner through iPEC (Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching), I am also an Associate Certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation. When you combine my professional coaching certifications, my decades of extensive experience in all areas of pageantry, and the unique process of how my clients and I work together, you have a winning combination that’s different from other pageant coaches.
Some hairstylists, makeup artists, personal trainers, wardrobe stylists, modeling/talent instructors, and photographers call themselves pageant coaches when in reality they’re consultants. Consultants give answers to specific external needs. The problem is their advice is usually one dimensional and isn’t always integrated with the other areas of your pageant preparation. Plus, if the person is inexperienced within the pageant world, their expertise isn’t going to benefit you to the fullest extent.
Usually,with consultants there’s very little accountability or follow up to make sure you stay on track. Plus few are Professional Coaches who are skilled at addressing both the physical and mental obstacles that come up when preparing for a pageant (and we all know that most of the drama within pageantry is caused by internal issues, not external).
I’m a unique blend of a consultant and Professional Coach. My expertise within pageantry allows me to address all the external needs, however, unlike the traditional consultant I integrate all pieces of the pageant puzzle. As a Certified Life Coach, I partner with you to create a plan based on your agenda that will help you grow internally and live the life you want. I help you work through the internal and external obstacles, and hold you accountable to what you say you’re going to do.
I absolutely love what I do and have a passion for coaching, teaching and learning. I started teaching dance lessons at age 14 and have continued throughout my life. Family is central to me, and especially the relationship between mothers and daughters. I’ve home educated my three daughters for the past 12 years. This has been a blessing in more than one way to our family. No two people learn in the exact same way. I have developed my ability to isolate a person’s learning style and speak their language so the information makes sense to them. By knowing how to take big principals and break them down into easy understandable parts, both children and adults can relate to me.
Finally, what sets me apart from others is how I view pageantry and winning. Pageants are a fun tool that women can use to develop themselves and strengthen their relationships. My definition of winning doesn’t refer to just the crown. If you’re looking to achieve winning results in your life THROUGH pageantry, then you’ve found the right expert pageant coach. Welcome to Winning Through Pageantry®.
What’s pageant coaching and how does it work?
Almost every client that comes to me in the beginning expects to be treated like some of the “coaches” they’ve seen on TV. You know the ones, the pushy screaming people that tell contestants what they’re doing wrong, how to do it right, “not that way-this way”, etc. Most people have never heard of Professional Coaching and don’t understand the value of it – that is until they’ve worked with me. Then they know the difference.
My clients and I have a true partnership. Together, we work on your hair, makeup, clothing, modeling, and interview skills. But more importantly, we create a plan that covers all the detailed logistics that other pageant coaches may leave untouched. We also work on shifting the negative self talk and thoughts that can stop a contestant in their tracks. I don’t care how fabulous the outside looks, if a person mentally cracks under pressure, she is not going to be pleased with the results. Not only will you be prepared for your pageant but you’ll be able to use these amazing skills for life.
Like a conductor, I can hear all the individual parts of the orchestra and know how to blend the sounds to create a masterpiece that brings tears to the audience. Each orchestra member is an expert of their own instrument; but they can’t hear how the whole song sounds from their location. The orchestra needs a conductor.
Or, like a master chef who can take individual ingredients, which on their own aren’t very appetizing, and mix them together to create food fit for a queen (LOL…that’s funny and so appropriate). In pageantry, the clothing, hair, makeup, body posture, walking, interview skills and mental attitude all need to come together in the right formula to create a winning experience. The formula isn’t the same for each person, but I know how to blend each contestant’s individual parts so it’s a perfect fit for them. This involves both consulting and professional coaching skills.
Rhonda Shappert is an expert pageant coach, a Certified Professional iPEC (Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching) personal development life coach, an Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner, an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) with the International Coach Federation, an experienced dancer, choreographer, singer, public speaker, M.C., pageant judge and owner of Winning Through Pageantry®, a business she created that uses her personalized step-by-step program that enables her clients to have a winning experience not only at the pageant; but helps them Succeed From The Inside Out® and win in life.
In the pageantry world, she has held multiple titles at the local, state and national level and received numerous awards. As Mrs. Ohio America 2005, Rhonda made over 120 public speaking appearances and was honored by the Mrs. America Organization, Governor Taft, The Ohio House of Representatives, The Ohio State Senate, received the Silver Good Citizenship Metal from the Ohio Society Sons of the American Revolution, and received the Spirit of America Award from the president of the National Association for Music Education (MENC) Dr. John J. Mahlmann, for her work with the National Anthem Project.
She has worked with contestants to become titleholders in pageant systems such as Mrs. America, Mrs. United States, Mrs. International, Ms. American Woman,Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, Miss America, America’s Perfect Jr. Teen/Teen/Miss, National American Miss, American Coed Pageants, Cinderella, International Junior Miss, Our Little Miss, Sunburst, America’s National Teenager, Miss High School America, Miss Teen World, Miss Black USA, Miss Black USA Talented Teen, American Dream, Ms. Plus America, Miss Africa USA, Miss Galaxy, Pure American Pageants and many festival and local pageants.
Rhonda graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelors degree in Musical Theater from The Ohio State University and has performed on stage in 15 countries on the Asian, European and American continents. A few of her performance highlights include the half time shows of Super Bowl XX, NBA game for the Phoenix Suns and the Pan Am Field and Track games in Indianapolis; sang on the nationally televised Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; sang at the International Peace Festival in Hiroshima, Japan; was featured on international television specials in Japan and Luxembourg, and sang for the United Nations in New York City during her two years with the international non-profit organization Up With People.
This mother of three has been married almost 25 years to her husband Stephen, home educates their children, is the former mayor of her community, and serves on the board of trustees for two non-profit organizations. She and her husband wrote and produced their original contemporary Christian music CD.