• 86°

Miss America had local coach

Miss America Nina Davuluri was crowned Sunday night. Local attorney Bill Alverson coached her before the pageant. It was the second consecutive ‘win’ for Alverson, who Monday was called ‘the Nick Saban of pageants.’                                       Photo courtesy of Miss America organization

Miss America Nina Davuluri was crowned Sunday night. Local attorney Bill Alverson coached her before the pageant. It was the second consecutive ‘win’ for Alverson, who Monday was called ‘the Nick Saban of pageants.’ Photo courtesy of Miss America organization

Alverson helped Davuluri craft her platform

Bill Alverson bleeds orange and blue.

The AU alumnus has two children who graduated from Auburn, where his daughter Blanche was a basketball star and homecoming queen.

But when the state media referred to him yesterday as “the Nick Saban of pageants,” he considered it high praise.

“You can’t deny he’s good,” he said. “I would expect Alabama fans be upset, because he’s way more successful than I am. Nobody can deny the excellence Nick Saban brings to football, in all aspects of it.”

Alverson, an Andalusuia attorney, helped coach both the newly-crowned Miss America Nina Davuluri and the outgoing Mallory Hagan, both of whom won the storied pageant “as Miss New York.

“She was my pick from the start,” Alverson posted on Facebook Sunday night as he watched with his youngest daughter, Stella, as Davuluri being crowned.

Alverson actually attended several of the preliminaries and events surrounding the pageant. But he flew home to watch the pageant with his younger daughter, a family tradition.

“I talked with Nina on the phone, but they have the contestants so sequestered,” he said. “By the time you get to the finals, everyone is just trying to get home.”

Alverson also worked with Miss Missouri and has worked with Miss Oklahoma in the past. Both of them were strong contenders, he said, adding that he knew if the judges “got” Nina, she would be hard to beat.

Alverson works with contestants on interview skills and marketing themselves. He said it is much like preparing someone to appear in court before a jury.

With Nina Davuluri, who was the first Indian-American to win the pageant, he wanted to market her as a statement that all Americans now have a chance.

“It’s not just about race,” he said. “It’s how we treat people for equality on all issues, including gender issues.”

Alverson talked about the experience Monday night during breaks in rehearsal for The King and I, being staged by ACT I this week. It was, oddly enough, Paula Sue Duebelt, co-director of that play, who got him into this line of work, he said.

“I started doing this when I moved to Andalusia,” he said. “Paula Sue asked me to help a girl. I took it on like a project and we won. From there I started working with all the junior misses, and then got exposed to being a judge.”

He worked with Andalusia’s own Alexa Jones when she represented Alabama and was a finalist in Miss America.

But it was a meeting with gown designer Sherri Hill who helped him break into more work, he said.

“I have a friend who has a shop in Eufalua, Lasting Impressions,” he said. “He brought down Sherri Hill, a pageant designer, and asked me to set up as a vendor to work on interview prep.

“I did it. Sherri said, ‘You have a little bit different approach, let me call my daughter.’ ”

And that got him started, he said. He also learned from the coaches who helped daughter Blanche shape her basketball career, and modeled his prep work on theirs.

With Nina, who is very bright, he worked with bringing out her emotions.

Now that Miss America has been crowned, it’s a whole new year, he said. Next, he’ll be working with girls competing for state titles in Miss America and Miss USA preliminaries. But this week, “the Nick Saban of pageants” is spending a lot of time at LBW, rehearsing for The King and I.