Young fans impress at national anthem auditions

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 | 10:29 p.m. CDT; updated 7:14 a.m. CDT, Thursday, September 19, 2013
MU psychology major Ciara Davis poses for a portrait Tuesday after her audition to sing the national anthem at future Missouri basketball games.

COLUMBIA — Most of the people in the stands are there to prove they can sing.

They come in ones and twos and groups. They follow the Anthem Tryouts signs through the bowels of Mizzou Arena until they spill out around the empty basketball court, carrying water bottles and hoping to be the next home-game star.

More than two dozen auditioned. But the real show is in the stands, in the form of Caylie and Carrie Piquard.

The blond, blue-eyed sisters perch on the yellow bleachers, alone above the judges at center court. In her almost-13 years, Caylie has never been somewhere this big, she said. And her mother, Becky Piquard, has certainly not performed in such a gaping venue.

"Not at a humongous audience, like with a million trillion people," the young viewer says, gesturing around Mizzou Arena at the rows and rows and rows of yellow and black chairs, anticipating her mom's first time singing on the hardwood court. 

The girls talk quickly, back and forth, using their hands. The 12-year-old bounces her palm against her chest, miming her heart pounding out of her body with the nervousness that would overtake her if she had to sing (although she's confident she'd do fine). The girls' mother is nervous, they say.

"But she's excited-nervous," Carrie, 10, says.

"She was probably praying to not pass out on the floor," Caylie adds.

The participants are still waiting to start, and the girls bounce from topic to topic. Their mom is a teacher, and they like her students this year. The younger one says she'd be too embarrassed to play sports. Caylie's name means "to rejoice," but Carrie's not sure what her name means. (It means either "strong," her mom says, or, appropriately, "a melody.")

"Hers probably means Spoiled Brat," Caylie says.

Her little sister is unfazed.

"Hers is Ugly Face," Carrie says.

But there is no sense of animosity, only good-natured teasing. The sisters turn back to the audience. Mom's quartet collects behind the microphone. Piquard and three co-workers, all faculty or staff at Sturgeon R-V School, are the first group.

Test, test. 

"Oh boy, that's really echo-y," Caylie says.

When the quartet finishes, the girls clap politely — the claps sound small in an arena designed to be filled with 15,061 people — and jump up to go congratulate their mom. The group gradually troops back up the stairs and out of the arena.

"I was praying but not to not pass out on the floor," Piquard says. 

Maybe one day it will be the girls' turn to stand on the tiger at center court and entertain the crowd with the national anthem. Her daughters both love music, Piquard said. But for now, the girls will entertain on a smaller scale. 

"They have personality," Piquard says. "Definitely." 

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