Twenty-one teenagers will compete Friday night to be Miss Maryland Outstanding Teen. The winner of this pageant will go to Orlando, Fla., on Aug. 12 through 16 to compete for Miss America's Outstanding Teen.
Pulling for the home team
When it comes time during this week's pageant for the talent competition, Schoeck will squeeze his wife's hand - very, very hard.
Jim Colombo is not much better.
"I get very, very nervous. And very apprehensive. All I can really hope for is for either of (my) girls to do the best they can in every aspect of the performance," Colombo said of when the winner and runners-up are announced.
Colombo, 67, of Hagerstown, has seen the double thrill of victory last year when his daughter, Whitney, was crowned Miss Washington County and his youngest daughter, Audreanna, was crowned Miss Western Maryland Outstanding Teen.
"That was euphoria," Colombo said.
He's also seen the agony of defeat: The first year Whitney won a Miss Teen title, she didn't place in the state competition. Dad and daughter were both upset.
"If they get cut, you bleed for them. You always feel for them. It's only natural you do," Jim Colombo said. "They take loss gracefully. That's what I expect them to, take their losses with grace and dignity and go onto the next step."
Supportive but worried
For Ted Schoeck, 49, of Hagerstown, it's not the announcement of who's won or lost that makes him a wreck, but when daughter Gretchen is performing classical piano for the talent competition or doing her onstage interview.
"No matter how much you practice, when you're in front of all those people there's a tendency to freeze. At least I have that tendency. Maybe I'm projecting that onto my daughter," he said.
When Gretchen finishes her piece, the second movement of Beethoven's Sonata Opus 13, successfully, there's a great sigh of relief on dad's part, Ted Schoeck said.
Schoeck said the pageant is a great event for young ladies to have an opportunity to perform and learn to speak in front of people.
Colombo, who's watched Whitney participate in pageants for four years, has been impressed with the quality of contestants.
He also finds the winnings - Whitney earned about $3,200 in scholarships last year through pageants - very helpful.
"That extra money doesn't hurt at all," he said.
More than writing checks
Gretchen Schoeck, 18, and Whitney Colombo, 18, said their fathers do more than just pay the bills for the dresses and lessons to prep for the talent competition.
In addition to driving Gretchen to various coaches to prepare for aspects such as the interviews, Ted Schoeck also preps his daughter for the interviews.
"I keep up on current events probably more than she does and she likes me to quiz her in the evening. We go over the Wall Street Journal and Time magazine and go over what's going on in the world," Ted Schoeck said. He also asks her about herself, her family, school and her plans for the future (She's attending Bucknell University this fall) because any of those things could come up during the interviews.
The off-stage interview accounts for 25 percent of the score and the onstage question counts for 5 percent in the Miss pageant, said Courtney Thomas, business manager for the Miss Maryland Organization. Talent accounts for 35 percent, evening wear for 20 percent and lifestyle and fitness in swimsuit for 15 percent.
Jim Colombo said he also quizzes Whitney and Audi, 14, about current events.
Then comes the tough part for Ted Schoeck and Jim Colombo - sitting in the audience with their wives and trying not to let their nervousness show.
Neither dad makes posters, though Colombo said he's held some up to support his daughters.
"We're cheering, screaming," Jim Colombo said of he and his wife, Jodi.
And when it's all over, win or lose, there's the hug from dad.
The hug helps if she doesn't win, Whitney said, but it also can start her crying.
If you go ...
WHAT: Miss Maryland Scholarship Pageant and Miss Maryland Outstanding Teen competition
WHEN: Miss Maryland Scholarship Pageant preliminary competition is at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 18, and Thursday, June 19. Miss Maryland Outstanding Teen Pageant is at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 20. Miss Maryland finals are at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 21.
WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., downtown Hagerstown
COST: $25 for admission Wednesday or Thursday; $30 for the teen competition Friday; $40 for the Miss finals Saturday