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PHS junior wins two UIL championships in one day

UIL journalism coach Alyssa Boehringer helps Rachel Sadler show off her hardware.

As junior Rachel Sadler was on her way home from Austin after winning two state championships for UIL journalism writing Friday, she realized her stories would be posted on the website for everyone to see.

“Earlier in the year, (UIL coach) Mrs. (Alyssa) Boehringer was telling us how you could see all the state champions on the UIL website,” Rachel said. “And it would be there forever.”

That’s exactly where you will find Rachel’s work, as she placed first in news writing and first in editorial writing, and her one-woman show earned runner up for journalism team.

With a new UIL journalism teacher and class, three students signed up, including Rachel, as well as Paola Diaz and Olga Ruiz. All three advanced to regionals and earned All-State journalism honors this year.

“My dad told me we’d hired a great new teacher for journalism, and he thought I could possibly go to state,” she said. “I like writing, and it sounded fun, even though I didn’t really know what it was. After hearing an intro about the class on the first day, I knew I’d like it.”

Rachel Sadler's dad, PHS Principal Clint Sadler, was able to accompany his daughter on the state trip.

Rachel, who also excels in athletics, compared competing in sports vs. UIL academics.

“Journalism is more individual,” she said. “My focus is on myself, and I am only trying to beat myself and be better than the last paper I wrote. Volleyball is a team sport, and you need help to do it.”

Rachel said she enjoys academic UIL and the journalism style of writing.

“I really feel like it’s more real world and something you could eventually go into,” she said. “This really makes me think about journalism as a possible profession.”

With five possible contest options in UIL journalism, Rachel never picked just one as her focus.

“Mrs. Boehringer told us most students have a tendency to go toward one event, but I was all over the place,” Rachel said. “I was not expecting to go to state in two events, especially the ones that I did.”

Rachel advanced to regionals in the four writing events, after winning first in headline and feature, second in editorial and third in news at district. For regionals, she placed first in news and third in editorial.

“I almost didn’t even go to regionals in news since I got third at district,” she said. “And for the two I won at district, I didn’t place at regionals.”

Rachel Sadler with her gold medals for editorial and news writing.

Mrs. Boehringer explained the subjectivity of the UIL writing contests.

“At every level. you are competing against different people every time,” she said. “And there is a different prompt every time, so there are a lot of variables that factor into it.”

Her coach started seeing the writing on the wall in February after her UIL students had been practicing their writing every day in class, as well as attending practice UIL meets.

“She had gotten very consistent in all the contests,” Mrs. Boehringer said. “But in headline, it had gotten to the point where I was not even making suggestions or comments on her papers. We all thought she would advance to state in headline, since that and feature seemed to be her top events.”

But Rachel had a different destiny, and she said there were several contributing factors to her wins.

“Mrs. Boehringer told me to read the contest manual the night before state,” she said. “I thought she was joking, but I did it and paid attention to the sample stories. It really helped. Plus, Mrs. Boehringer touched my head before the contest.”

This has been a long-standing UIL contest tradition.

“I’m a little superstitious when it comes to UIL,” Mrs. Boehringer said. “I had a previous UIL competitor that I had touched her head before a contest once, and she did well. The next time I didn’t, and she didn’t win, so it must work.”

The double state champion is proud of her accomplishments, but she still has one more year to compete.

“I feel like I have set the bar high for next year,” she said. “I have a goal to at least get to state, and we’ll see what happens.”

UIL journalism director Jeanne Acton presents Rachel Sadler with her team plaque.