Local youth playing fiddle in the big leagues


CHRISMAN – Like many kids her age, seven-year-old Mikayla Hoult (soon to be eight) enjoys music, softball, dance and counting down the days to her next birthday. She may seem like a typical girl, but her plans for the summer are anything but average.

On Friday, July 5, the Chrisman Elementary School student will perform the national anthem on her fiddle to open a Major League Baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals.

She is equal parts excited and nervous for the performance, which will take place in front of thousands of eager baseball fans at Nationals Park in Washington D.C.

July’s game will not be her first time in front of an MLB crowd. The first-class fiddler performed the anthem at a Nationals spring training game in March. Mikayla was an instant sensation.

“We walked around the stadium afterward and everybody was just all over her about that,” said Hoult’s father, Michael Hoult. “‘Hey, you’re the one that played the anthem. We want to get a picture with you before you become famous.’”

Even under the gaze of 2,000 fans and a live camera feed, Mikayla overcame her nerves.

“I felt confident because I was a VIP,” she said. “(I) got treated like a famous person.”

When asked how she dealt with a camera recording her just inches away, Mikayla revealed that she “just ignored it.”

The VIP treatment lasted the entire day. Before the game, she toured the back offices, the field itself and even got close to some players. Her assessment of the experience?

“I could get used to this,” she giggled.

Mikayla is already a pseudo-celebrity in her hometown, where she has headlined several events.

On top of performances throughout Illinois and Indiana, she recently sang the national anthem during Chrisman’s Memorial Day Service.

Friends and family members have already asked for autographs from Mikayla, who notified all of her friends of her upcoming performance.

“Every single one knows about it,” she said.

Michael Hoult submitted his daughter’s audition tapes to several different professional teams who train in Florida during the early spring, figuring a spring performance could coincide with a trip south to visit family. Mikayla was originally slated to perform a few days prior in front of the Houston Astros, but inclement weather delayed her debut.

In the end, the last-minute change was for the best. The Nationals staff, and the crowd, enjoyed the performance so much that they invited her to do it again.

“That was the biggest applause in 10 years,” Mikayla said, recalling the words of a staff member after her debut.

For Michael Hoult, Mikayla’s mother Anjie Hoult, and her sister Isabella, Mikayla’s musical endeavors are an opportunity to soak up quality time together.

“It was just fun watching her in the moment,” Michael Hoult explained. “I think the main thing is just making memories with the kids, and watching them be happy and experience new things.”

The Hoults have already drafted their trip itinerary for Washington D.C. this summer, including a tour of the White House and a visit with friends on the East Coast.

This summer’s trip to D.C. will also allow Mikayla to reunite with her favorite MLB player, Nolan Arenado. She first met the Cardinals’ third baseman during a previous trip to a spring training game and she hopes to have a chance to catch up with him. She explained she likes Arenado because he has the same first name as one of her friends back home.

Ironically, Mikayla’s fiddle career stemmed from a desire to play a different, albeit similar, instrument.

“I really wanted to start playing violin, and daddy tried to find a teacher,” she explained.

Eventually, the Hoults found their teacher in Judy Green, the musical mastermind behind Coon Holler Music and Mikayla’s current musical group: the Baby Blue Bluegrass Band.

“She made me do fiddle…I just picked it up easier,” said Mikayla.

“She just took off,” Michael Hoult added.

While Mikayla’s natural talent is on display every time she takes the stage near or far, her teacher believes Hoult’s persistence has brought her to where she is now.

“She doesn’t get discouraged, and that’s something a lot of kids do,” Green explained, adding many young students do not expect the effort required to excel with their respective instruments. “You have to put your time in.”

Mikayla was one of Green’s first new students post-COVID. She instantly connected with the talented youngster and her inquisitive, determined personality.

“I love her. I truly do fall in love with all my kids,” said Green. “She (Mikayla) is one who is fun on so many levels… we are just friends.”

Green credited Mikayla’s family for their efforts in promoting her talents while driving her to lessons and shows. Without that kind of support, a success story like Mikayla’s would not be possible.

According to Green, Mikayla’s story serves as an inspiration to her students and young musicians everywhere.

“It kind of inspires other kids to say, ‘If she can do that, then I can,’” Green explained. “She’s going to go after her dreams.”

Those dreams include having a career in music one day, just like Mikayla’s inspiration: Taylor Swift.

“She’s really good. And she’s famous,” Mikayla said.

For now, she is grateful to be able to share her music with the world. To all of her friends, family and fans who plan to tune in for her next performance, she offered a heartfelt “thank you.”

For anyone interested in tracking Hoult’s musical dreams and endeavors, follow Coon Holler Music on Facebook or watch her performance before the Nationals and Cardinals square off on Bally Sports Midwest, Friday, July 5 at 5:45 p.m. CST.

fiddle, Mikayla Hoult, Chrisman Elementary, Nationals, MLB