NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. - LA Galaxy fans are used to August being an exciting time. The beach is never too far away, the season hits the stretch run and talk of playoffs is in the air.
But the competition for the Western Conference title is not the only thing heating up in Southern California. The 2011 Miss LA Galaxy contest, presented by COVERGIRL, kicked off its competition two weekends ago in the ritzy town of Newport Beach.
The day was pure adventure for the 10 finalists as they got to experience everything from biking and stand-up paddle boarding to kayaking at Newport Fun Tours. After some fun in the sun, and a few light snacks on top of the luxurious yacht, Ocean Alexander, the official 2011 Miss LA Galaxy Excursion sponsor, the finalists headed out to the Rusty Pelican for dinner.
A few hours on the Newport bay was a welcome relief for many of the ladies. But it was also a chance to get to know one another and start working together as a part of a team in a fun, relaxed atmosphere.
"Today was wonderful, it's been a great bonding experience between all the girls,” said Megan Lacina of Valencia, who enjoyed paddle boarding the best. “I fell in the water but it was fun.”
Over the course of the next two months, the finalists will go through an experience that can be— when you think about it— both wonderful and cruel. Out of the final 10, only one will be selected Miss LA Galaxy 2011—the top three runners up are invited to join the Miss LA Galaxy court as well. The rest, well, C’est la vie.
“We are capable of doing so much,” Lacina said. “I think it would be a wonderful opportunity to be part of something that is helping so many people in the community. If I were to win it would be a huge honor, but I think any of these girls would deserve to win equally and I would be just as happy for any of them.”
The final ten are a lively group and many of the ladies picked up on that energy right away. Some of the finalists are 18-years-old while others are 26-years-old and the group has everything from a volunteer soccer coach and graduate student to neuroscientists.
“We have 10 smart, beautiful, talented women here and it is awesome to be included among them,” said Megan O'Neil of Glendale “I'm a huge soccer fan, a huge Galaxy fan and to be able to share that excitement and translate that enthusiasm to the community will be a blast."
The Miss LA Galaxy competition was started by the club in 2002 as a way to identify ladies that could represent the club in the community. The ideal candidate is someone who takes pride in making a difference in their community, enjoys doing volunteer work, demonstrates extraordinary academic and personal achievement and, of course, supports the LA Galaxy and its commitment to making the sport of soccer grow in this country.
“Giving a female presence to our sport and giving back to the community have always been two main objectives for the program,” said LA Galaxy Director of Marketing Veronica Avila, who has been overseeing the program since the beginning. “This excursion allows the judges and Galaxy staff to evaluate the candidates on qualities such as teamwork, punctuality, personality, attitude, appearance and ability to be social.
“Our present 2010 Miss LA Galaxy, Nicola Wales-Wong and her Court, have done over 100 appearances in the community this year and we plan on increasing that number next season.”
Community involvement is a critical part of being Miss LA Galaxy. In addition to representing the soccer team, Miss LA Galaxy and her court will become heavily involved in the Los Angeles area and reach out to the community through regularly scheduled events, such as the Long Beach Police toy drive that took place this past April.
Miss LA Galaxy finalists Lara Hosseinzadeh, who’s from Corona, said she is well aware of the responsibilities.
"I believe the Galaxy are looking for a role model for the community, someone that inspires and motivates people to believe they really can make a difference," said Hosseinzadeh.
Added Monique Garcia of Whittier: "We will be giving back to the community and to the fans and that is something that is honorable."
Last night’s game against Kansas City was the first time the finalists were out at The Home Depot Center in official LA Galaxy capacity - maybe you saw them. The competition will get more intense from here on in as the focus shifts to personality and ability to relate with fans. Over the next two months, the 10 finalists will be out at games, Galaxy Street Team appearances and school visits.
The final day of the Miss LA Galaxy contest will take place on Oct. 24, prior to the start of the Galaxy’s final home game of the season against FC Dallas when the new Miss LA Galaxy will be crowned.