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February 4, 2014 02:15 PM

Kami_as_Miss_New_MexicoIf you follow high school tennis in New Mexico you will likely recall Kamryn—aka Kami—Blackwood, a standout performer for Farmington teams. Blackwood was part of a winning doubles tandem in 2008 and 2009 and played a solid role in the Pat McGrath-coached Lady Scorpions taking state 4A girls titles in ’09 and 2010.  Kamryn, now 21, went on to Division II Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where she is a criminal justice major and a senior for the NSU Sharks.  Kamryn’s tennis of late has been overshadowed by her being crowned in January as Miss New Mexico USA 2014.  That title qualified her to take part in the Miss USA pageant to be held in June in Las Vegas, Nev.

You are a student-athlete. How did you manage to fit a beauty pageant into that busy life?

During winter break from school in 2012 my dad and I watched the Miss Universe pageant on television.  I turned to my dad and said, “I think I can do that.”

What did he say?

He said, “Kami, you need to focus on school.”

Then what happened?

Well, we traveled to the Miss New Mexico USA pagent in Las Cruces in early 2013. When I watched that, I told my dad, “I really want to pursue this.” To that end, I decided to educate myself about the pageant for a full year and to train for it.  I went to the Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas, Nev., last year, which the Miss New Mexico USA feeds into, and we watched that too.  I told my dad, “I want to win this.” I didn’t want to enter both pageants unless I believed I could win.  

What do you have to do to train?

Your fitness has to figure in.  Being an athlete helped me.  But at the same time, you’re standing next to a girl who has a smaller build.  I had to tone down rather than bulk up. In tennis, I had bulked up.   

How did you do this?  

I upped my cardio. I also do more reps with less weight.  I work with bands and do core work.

Has your weight gone down?

I don’t pay attention to numbers, but I know I’m lessening. I want to be the most fit for the Miss USA Pageant.  That’s my goal.

How tall are you?

Five-nine without heels.  

What competitions does a Miss New Mexico USA pageant involve?  

There are three categories: swimsuit, evening gown and on-stage questions.  Those questions are written by the judges and you choose cards out of a fishbowl.  My two questions in Las Cruces were What is your New Year’s resolution? and Do you feel men and women are equal in Olympic sports?   

If you win the Miss USA pageant, what next?

That automatically qualifies you for the Miss Universe pageant.

Kami_hits_a_volley_(1)How is your tennis going, by the way?

Last year I didn’t play much because I had a serious ankle injury. It’s much better now.  I’ve had the best time playing for Nova. Everyone on the team is fired up for this season. We play in one of the toughest Division II conferences in the country, the Sunshine State Conference.

South Florida is a long way from northwestern New Mexico. What led you to Nova?

I didn’t have a USTA record as a junior. All I had was my high school record. But the-then Nova coach, Michael Coleman, he believed in me when I came for a recruiting visit my senior year.  I received a scholarship in tennis and in leadership. Coach Coleman started the tennis program for Nova about 14 years ago. He retired this past year.  The new coach is Steve Schram and I think he’ll be great.  We’re looking to do really well.

Last summer you traveled to Kenya as part of the National Day of Care, which is headquartered in Farmington. You’re on the board of that organization.  You built homes and helped hundreds of widows and orphans. And you plan to go back to Africa this summer to build a water system. How have you managed to handle everything—schoolwork, tennis, beauty pageants and humanitarian work?

I think I prepared for all of this in high school, where I was class president, belonged to several organizations and played tennis.  I thrive on pressure. It’s helped me on the tennis court and elsewhere in my life. The more pressure the better.  
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