Krystle Key, who won her first pageant, the Cordova Queen of Hearts competition, while attending Cordova High School, said, “Bringing the crown back to Walker County and Cordova where I grew up — after the devastating tornadoes, I feel like that was a small, tiny positive light.”
Key added, “It was very important to me to represent our county after such a devastating time.”
Key won the title just days after the April 27 tornadoes hit Walker County. She said her family was still without electricity when she competed in the event held on May 1 at Cahaba Grand Conference Center in Birmingham.
As a result of her win, Key will now go on to compete in the Mrs. United States Pageant that will be held in Las Vegas Aug. 2-4.
“Oh, I’m so excited,” she said about the upcoming event.
Key was named first runner-up when she competed last year in the Mrs. Alabama contest, a pageant exclusively for married state residents. However, second place was not enough to satisfy Key.
“I’m always one that I’m going to keep going,” Key said. “So I went back and I ended up winning.”
Key, who now lives in Jasper, said she was influenced to take part in the event after she ran into another Mrs. Alabama Pageant winner in Walmart. She said Terri Bolens, Mrs. Alabama for 1997, told her she should consider being in the pageant.
Unlike most high school pageants, the Mrs. Alabama Pageant does not have a talent portion of the event. However, Mrs. Alabama contestants are judged in competitions for evening wear, swimsuits and personal interview. Contestants also have to answer questions posed to them while they are on stage.
Had there been a talent segment of the contest, Key said her singing voice would have been the quality she would have displayed.
“It would probably be something with a country feel to it,” said Key about what would have been her song choice had she been required to put her talent on display.
As proud as Key is of her Mrs. Alabama title, she is equally gratified by her victory in a fitness division of the competition.
Physical fitness is important to Key who works out about a dozen hours a week, attending classes at the Firm Body Boot Camp and working out at Solid Image Fitness in Jasper. Key also keeps tabs on the food she ingests, sticking mostly to a high protein, low carbohydrate diet.
“That’s why when I won the fitness portion I was so glad, because I’ve worked so hard,” said the mother of three.
Key said she got plenty of support while training for the pageant from her husband Chad, who played football for the University of Alabama’s 1992 championship team.
“He was excited for me,” she said. “I had his 100 percent support.”
Krystle added, “He’s definitely there to support me when I want to eat something that I really want to eat, but I can’t have. He won’t really eat junk in front of me.”
However, Krystle admitted, “He might sneak around and do it.”
Krystle, like her husband, is a former athlete. As a member of the Blue Devils, she played for her high school’s softball, baseball and volleyball teams. She was also the head cheerleader at Cordova High School.
“I was very active growing up. My parents always pushed me to achieve,” Krystle said about her mother and father, Douglas and Debra Channell. “They were so proud.”
She said her parents were also supportive when she was earning her degree in nursing from Auburn University and Bevill State Community College.
Krystle said her daughters, Anna Kate, 12; Gracie, 8; and Colby, 2, have been extremely excited about their mother’s recent victory.
“They are probably my biggest fans,” she said. “They think the big crown is the greatest thing ever.”
Because of their interest in the crown, Krystle said she is going to have to get a case to make sure the tiara does not get torn up.
According to Krystle, her oldest girls are following in their mother’s footsteps.
“They’re both in the school pageant every year and my oldest actually won her division this year and Gracie, she got third (place).”
Krystle said she always teaches her daughters to “give it your absolute best” and be gracious when they fall short of their prizes.
“You have to be a good sport,” Krystle said. “That’s my biggest thing.”