By Maya Pottiger
One year ago, the highest heels Dulayne Sterling had ever worn were her soccer cleats. In June, she was crowned the Queen of the Chesapeake after serving as princess for Bodkin Yacht Club.
“I’ve been playing soccer for 14 years, so getting into dresses was new for me,” said Dulayne, a rising senior at Chesapeake High School. “It was new, and it was exciting.”
After sustaining a major concussion, Dulayne stopped playing competitive soccer. The first time Dulayne considered becoming Bodkin’s princess was when she attended the pageant that included her cousin, Mia Sokol. Sokol also served as princess of Bodkin Yacht Club and Queen of the Chesapeake.
“I think that put the spark in her,” said Jackie Sterling, Dulayne’s mom. “I watched her transform from not only this academic athlete, but it took [her] from an athlete to a princess.”
Dulayne was inspired to get involved with the yacht club by her grandmother, who passed in 2011.
“She had always been such a huge advocate for the boating community,” Dulayne said. “I wanted to be part of it more and more, especially because I lost her. In a way, I was trying to be closer to my grandmother and create new relationships.”
For the pageant, Dulayne’s theme song was “Sailing” by Rod Stewart. This song choice was also inspired by her grandmother. The song lyrics reinforce a lesson Dulayne’s grandmother taught her, which was not to wait out the storm, but learn to dance in the rain.
Dulayne learned about friendships and creating bonds with people of all ages during the process.
“It’s not just the princesses, it’s the children who look up to you and you’re a role model for them,” Dulayne said. “It’s the people who are part of the club. You learn to communicate with all ages.”
As part of the pageant, Dulayne had to raise money for a charity. She chose the Best Buddies program at Chesapeake High School, which she is part of. During the course of her fundraising, Dulayne raised more than $3,000 for the program.
“I love being part of the organization, growing closer to the kids and being an advocate for them,” Dulayne said. “I wanted everybody to know. Going to school, you see these children and they’re being treated not really as equals. You want to intertwine them into everyday life and social activities.”
Jackie said she is “overwhelmingly proud” of her daughter.
“The thought process that comes together and the way in which she presents herself, she always makes me hugely proud,” Jackie said. “I’m like, ‘Wow, she’s mine.’”
Dulayne credits her earning Queen of the Chesapeake to her dedication.
“Everything I’ve ever touched, I’ve tried to do my best and excel in it, and princess was one of those chances,” Dulayne said.