Novi resident Nicole Blaszczyk spent Monday evening at Fairlane Town Center in Dearborn, preparing for the silver screen during a filming of “Vanishing on 7th Street.”
Just 50 hours prior, Mike Blaszczyk led Novi's boys cross country team to a top 10 finish at the Division I state meet. Neither experience was new for these siblings, as success has been consistent for both of them during the past few years.
Mike, 17, will graduate in the spring after leading the cross country team to regular success at the state meet and earning an All-State honor his junior year.
“I don't know where either of them got their ability to perform in front of people. They didn't get it from me,” mother Carol Blaszczyk said. “They've always both been very determined and set their values high as far as what they wanted to accomplish. As a mother, they have made me the proudest person in the world.”
Nicole began dancing at 4 and never stopped, a talent she used to win the 2008 Miss Dance Michigan crown and, later, the 2008 Miss Wayne County and 2009 Miss Michigan titles. She'll go after the Miss America title Jan. 30 in Las Vegas in front of a national television audience.
“Nicole danced since she was 4 because she was a little on the shy side and (we wanted) to try and break her,” Carol said. “I can't even say I encouraged her to do dance because she loved it so much. She would take as many classes as I allowed her to take.”
Dance was more than just a hobby for Nicole, it was a lifestyle growing up.
“In high school, she'd be up at five in the morning. Nicole was never one to stay home. She's a hard worker,” her father said. “She ‘aged out' as far as Sheryl's School of Dance. She ate there, did her homework there. It was pretty much her second home.
Nicole's love for dance carried over throughout the Blaszczyk family.
“Long nights at dance competitions, getting driven around by mom and falling asleep in auditoriums,” Mike said. “When I was younger, I took some classes in boys' hip hop. I wanted to be cool like her. She's a good role model.”
Although Mike's dancing days ended by the time he started middle school, that's when his running days really began to shape up.
Mike experienced cross country success right from the start.
“I came into cross country and I was our 10th man when we got second in the state and decided ‘wow, I wanted to be a part of that,'” he said.
Mike earned an All-State award as a junior, with a personal-best 15 minutes and 45 seconds time at the 2008 state meet.
“Last year, we built our team around him. He was a very good student of the sport,” coach Robert Smith said. “He has that ability to run with oxygen debt, which a lot of runners don't. He gets in trouble and he just keeps going.
“Last year, when the other guys graduated, he became the team leader. Even though we had some talented seniors, he's become the go-to guy. He kept our traditions alive, our winning tradition.”
Leading his team to a 10th-place state finish was a goal Mike and his teammates both set and accomplished this season.
“I think it's just determination. No matter what the obstacles are in front of you, you'll keep going. He keeps going and doesn't complain about it. Does what coach says and listens,” Nicole said. “It's difficult because he's doing so well and I'm running all over the place, and he wants to be there for me, too. We're so busy, we appreciate our time together.”
The common bond of determination between the two siblings is what spurred them on throughout the years.
“My parents have always taught me to not give up on things. Just stick with the things you really like to do and, if things don't go the way you want, doesn't mean it's the end of it,” Mike said. “(Nicole's) been involved with the community a lot the past couple years and her talent of dance fit into things. Her talent of dance is just perfect.”
“When Nicole was 12-13, the other parents would say she was a pleasure to watch. I knew she'd be good, but I didn't think she'd be Miss Michigan,” her mother said.
The pageant world was never given a second thought by Nicole until after high school when a friend from dance told her she could earn scholarship money through the Miss Dance Michigan competition. A victory there transitioned into a victory in the county and state pageants.
“I was quite dead set against it for the longest time,” Nicole said, but the realization that the Miss America circuit focused on talent and service, while providing scholarships, interested her more than the more appearance-driven Miss USA circuit. “They're more ‘beauty pageant' and we're more about community service.”
Nicole earned a $10,000 scholarship by winning Miss Michigan and could win a $50,000 scholarship if she's crowned Miss America among 53 contestants in January. All the while, her senior year with Wayne State University's marketing department has been put on hold so she can fulfill her full-time duties of community service through the Muskegon-based Miss Michigan program.
“It's been a whirlwind. Going from being a hometown girl doing my thing to a complete 360 doing community service,” Nicole said. “I love working with little ones, 3-4 year-olds. It's been an absolutely eye-opening and humbling experience.”
Monday was Nicole's last off day and she found herself being called from Muskegon to the film set in Dearborn.
“I started working on films last spring. A couple different TV shows, different commercials. I wanted to broaden my horizons,” she said. “It's been fun. It's been great to see that movie magic in Michigan. There are tons and tons of people working.”
She'll appear in both “Up in the Air,” as a stewardess for George Clooney, and “Betty Ann Waters,” as a law student alongside Hilary Swank, later this year.
“Nicole, I see her going to Hollywood. I expect to see her on the silver screen,” her father said.
Although she enjoys the work, Nicole has slightly different plans for her future, although she admits nothing is set.
“As soon as I'm done with my community service, I'll jump into school to finish my last two semesters and maybe jump straight into my career in, hopefully, sports marketing,” she said.
KEEP ON TRACK
As for Nicole's younger brother, he plans to keep on running.
“I'm not done running yet. I'm excited going into college,” said Mike, who is making the choice between Olivet Nazarine and St. Francis universities in Illinois. “They're both smaller private schools. Kenny MacDonough, a senior my freshman year at Novi, went over there to Olivet Nazarine and is in their number one/number two spot.”
With the success the sibling duo has had thus far, there is no reason not to believe their luck will continue.
“Things worked out pretty well,” their father said. “I'm so proud of them.”
Chris Jackett is a free-lance writer.
Source: Observer & Eccentric Newspapers and Hometown Weeklies