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Ice Queen: Vermont Hockey Player to Compete in Miss USA Pageant


  • Alison Novak ©️ Seven Days
  • Joanna Nagle

When Joanna Nagle was 8 years old, she attended a University of Vermont hockey game with her dad. The next day, she traded her figure skates for hockey skates. She went on to play hockey at Colchester High School and on the club team at UVM.

During her senior year of college, Nagle discovered a very different passion: beauty pageants. She started entering Miss Vermont competitions and this June, during her fifth pageant, took the title.

At the end of the week, she'll head to Tulsa, Okla., to compete for the Miss USA crown. The event will air on Hulu on November 29.

On Saturday, the statuesque brunette — wearing a tiara, sash and cow-print jeans — posed for photos and bombed around the rink at Burlington's Leddy Park arena as friends and family wished her well before the trip. A basket of chocolates shaped like crowns and skates sat on a table in the warming room.

Both hockey and pageants foster a sense of camaraderie among participants, Nagle said, and involve a training regimen that requires healthy eating, as well as cardio and strength exercise.

Nagle works as a digital marketing strategist, but she's also coached girls' hockey for the last six years. This season, she leads the U12 Burlington Bobcats. Her young players don't usually see her glammed up, but they think it's pretty cool that she's Miss Vermont, Nagle said.

The beauty queen is using her platform to encourage more women to start coaching. In the 10 years that Nagle played organized hockey, she had just one female coach.

"When I graduated college, I thought, I didn't have any of those role models," she said, "and I wanted to be that role model."

There's no talent portion of the Miss USA pageant, though Nagle said that if there were, she'd showcase her slap shot. As for the swimsuit competition, she has mixed feelings.

"I mean, it's nerve-racking. I'm gonna be on national television in a bikini," Nagle said.

But, she added with a laugh, "I'm 27, so my body's probably never gonna look this good again. Let's at least have proof that I looked that way."