By Beth Cox
Not often a small rural community has a young woman competing in the Miss Tennessee pageant, but Johnson County was well represented by not one but two local girls living out their best dreams on the pageant circuit’s most popular state competition Saturday night in Memphis.
DeAnna Greer and Taylor Parsons have dreamed of being in beauty pageants their whole lives. Their journey did not start on the pageant stage but on the basketball court.
Greer and Parsons actually played basketball together for many years. They were tough competitors on the
court. Parsons started playing on the same team as her brother Zack in the first grade. Greer began playing basketball in 2010. Both girls also learned how to win and lose with humility and pride.
Parsons said basketball’s competitiveness taught her discipline and “losing gracefully.” The talented athlete described the similarities between pageantry and basketball as grounded in hard work, dedication, and strong self-identity.
“I am grateful to have been a part of teams and had coaches who helped instill in me that strong sense of self along with discipline and ‘playing my heart out,” she said. “Whether I am on a basketball court or on a stage dancing or competing in an evening gown, what you have inside you is what inspires and motivates you.
The people you surround yourself with either help you believe in yourself or not. Many people helped me believe in myself and my mission.”
Parsons loves sports, but she remembers begging her mom to let her be in pageants at a young age. Her mom, Ann, finally gave in, and as they say, the rest is history. In 2019, Parsons won Miss Tennessee’s Outstanding Teen and also placed third runner-up in Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, pushing her to continue.
“Placing third runner-up just made me hungry for more at the next level, a trait I learned in basketball,” she said. Parsons was a part of the Johnson County basketball team that was the first in school history to win 20 games in one season and the first to make it to regionals in 24 years.
Greer started playing basketball and was on the same team as Parsons until 9th grade, when her heart took her in another direction. She loved basketball, but becoming a cheerleader was all she wanted to do, and she decided to put her time and energy into cheering.
Becoming an athlete at an early age led Greer to “wow” the crowd with her tumbling skills.
“The adrenaline pumping and the roaring crowd pushed me to do a record-high 10 back handsprings simultaneously,” she said.
Before turning her attention to pageantry, Greer became a competitive cheerleader, where she led her team to several victories. She wanted more, though, and sought out her biggest dream; competing in a Miss Tennessee Scholarship Competition.
“I have been blessed to serve as Miss Appalachian Highlands in 2020 and Miss Memphis in 2021,” she said, and like Parsons, carried her basketball cheerleading skills to prepare for the Miss Tennessee competition. “It’s hard work and requires teamwork,” she added. “
“Without my background in sports, I wouldn’t be able to compete in pageants. I carry many attributes of my time participating in sports with me along my Miss Tennessee journey.”
Greer gives credit to her community for helping her obtain her dream of being a part of the Miss Tennessee experience.
Parsons and Greer are true inspirations to anyone who knows their story. They have grown up together, played together, and competed together, achieving a dream that was only obtainable through hard work, dedication, belief in themselves, and motivation to always improve. Lessons they both learned from the playbook of inspirational athletes.