speeches

Rotarians make NYT with Bill

Published 12:00am Saturday, July 19, 2014

Months ago, Bill Alverson extended an invitation to dinner. There was a writer for The New York Times in town, and I might enjoy the conversation, he said.
It sounded good, but it was cold and there was a deadline looming. I missed it.
But a few weeks later, Bill showed up at Rotary with a beautiful young woman who is his client. The two of them were being followed by a photographer who clicked incessantly.
At a nearby table, we debated whether it was OK to eat. Certainly, we didn’t want to be the people chewing in the background when Bill made his big debut.
Just two weeks ago, a videographer followed Bill to Rotary as part of the same project. Again, we joked about being in the background.
But I don’t think any of us expected the exposure club members got. The story, “The Pageant King of Alabama,” details the local attorney’s other profession as a coach.
For those who haven’t read it, Bill is quite successful. He helped prepare Nana Meriwether, who became Miss USA in December 2012; Mallory Hagan, who was crowned Miss America a month later; and Nina Davuluri, the reigning Miss America. He has coached at least six of the 53 women who’ll participate in Miss America in September. (Miss Georgia, Miss Louisiana, Miss Missouri, Miss New York, Miss Oklahoma and Miss Texas)
Of the similarities in his jobs, Bill said of pageants and the courtroom, “In both settings, you’re an actor. You’re playing the best version of yourself.”
Bill’s specialty is preparing contestants for the interview segment of pageants. But the article’s author, Jeff Chu (author of the book, “Does Jesus Really Love Me?”) points out that Bill has advice for everyone. He doesn’t mince words, either.
“That’s a nice outfit and that skirt is slimming, but those shoes have got to go,” he told me one Tuesday at a Rotary meeting. “You know better.”
One could be offended, or one could laugh and take the advice. I choose the latter, especially since his delivery is amusing.
Scrolling through The Times’ story yesterday, I spotted pictures of Wilbur Williams, Kevin Duffy, Chris Lawrence, Mike Ward, Randy Wahl, and Jim Smith. Thankfully, I was not chewing roast beef in the background.
It was nice of Bill to share his moment of fame with us.
If you haven’t seen the story, read it here.

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