An IAC Champion. It’s hard to put into words, let alone explain the feelings behind those three letters. Dreaming about this accomplishment for so many years makes it that much more difficult to process the reality.
Usually, on competition day I would have my mom by my side to keep me calm and grounded. This year, she was on stage and it was up to me to give it my best shot and stay out of my head.
When I arrived at roll call at 7:00 a.m., I took my seat and patiently waited to hear my contestant number. When I heard “number 74, Sara Rose Bytnar,” I’ll admit, my heart sunk. I would be the first contest in the women’s division. – great. Everyone is well aware that being the first contestant is difficult, to say the least. It’s the first contestant that sets the bar and the tone for the competition, and that was left up to me. I could sulk and get down on myself, or I could take it in stride and get up on that stage and show the judges I was ready.
And that’s just what I did. Being the first contestant, I knew I needed to stand out and I made a last minute change to my introduction. Instead of simply saying my name, where I’m from, and my contestant number, I decided to be bold. After I said my name, I proudly said, “I’m an NAAPro!” I believe those three words, along with a solid preliminary run, got me into the finals.
I vividly remember watching each contestant finish and feeling my heartbeat race to see if my name would be knocked off the leaderboard. When the last contestant finished and my name was still there, I knew this year could be it.
My goal for the finals, and specifically, for the interview was to be myself and show my heart – that’s it. The interview is where I feel comfortable, and I knew I could give myself a chance if I stayed calm, listened to the questions, and answered them from my heart.
When I got to my final run, it all became a blur. All I remember is having fun and enjoying the moment. Then, it was time. Standing on the stage, waiting for the winner to be announced is a moment I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Morgan Hopson, 2nd runner-up. Morgan is an amazing person with a vibrant smile and genuine heart. Next, Chantel Kimball, 1st runner-up. Chantel and I have become friends over the years and I simply adore her and her entire family. She gave me a hug going down the line to accept her trophy and she said, “it’s your year.” I remember thinking about all the women still on the stage and how any of their names could be called and would make great champions. Now, it was time…I couldn’t look anyone in the eyes because I was so nervous and excited all at the same time. I focused on the screen in front of the stage and when I saw myself, a rush on emotions came over me.
I did it! That moment was so surreal. I thought about what it would feel like to be passed the trophy from my mom and follow her as Champion. She set such an amazing example throughout her year, and I will continue to strive to emulate her passion for our association.
After the trophy presentation, I joined Terri Walker and Tim Luke upstairs for a quick interview. Again, I was without words to express my gratitude for such a humbling award. And then it was time for the men’s Champion to be announced. Earlier in the week, Dustin and I were on a panel together and said, wow, it would be so cool to be IAC partners. Fast-forward to that moment when Dustin’s name was called and literally everyone (myself included) jumped out of their chairs to celebrate the new men’s champion. I’m so honored to share this experience with Dustin and I know I speak for both of us that we can’t wait to get to work and make our NAA auction family proud.
It’s been four days since the competition, and it still hasn’t sunk in quite yet. I still have to pinch myself that I was able to follow my mom as an International Auctioneer Champion.
Dustin and I look forward to representing the National Auctioneers Association this year traveling to state associations and St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Without the incredible support of my husband, Brandon, and our family, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to be the Champion and mother that I’ve dreamed about becoming, so thank you!