Three years ago, Hunter Heck was standing on the sidelines of the football field during Texas Tech’s homecoming game in her cheerleading uniform, watching as her friend Casey Fleming was crowned Homecoming Queen.
“I remember then I was like, ‘That’s actually so neat. That would be a really unique opportunity, but probably never going to happen for me,’” she said.
Heck proved herself wrong as she and Reginald Lane were crowned Tech’s 2019 Homecoming King and Queen in front of thousands of Tech students, alumni, fans and more during Saturday’s Homecoming game.
Heck, a junior Spanish major from Panhandle, represented Mortar Board, a national honor society for college seniors, and Lane, a junior agricultural economics and general business major from Bridgeport, represented Saddle Tramps, an all-male spirit organization supporting men’s athletics.
Their crowning was the end to a busy week for the candidates, Sabrina Gonzalez, a junior restaurant, hotel and institutional management major from San Antonio, said. Gonzalez serves at the Royalty Chair for Student Activities Board.
“I thought it was awesome to see this super intense, very hard week come to an end and have Reggie and Hunter crowned as our Homecoming King and Queen,” Gonzalez said.
Although the candidates had the bulk of their activities in the past week, the nomination process beings at the start of the semester when candidates are chosen by their organizations, Gonzalez said. Soon after, the candidates sent in résumés for a blind résumé screening.
The résumés were evaluated by a panel of judges composed of various people involved at Tech, Gonzalaz said. There was one alumni member, one chamber of commerce member, one staff senate member, one Honors College member, one ROTC member, one Student Government Association member and one Residence Hall Association member.
“This year we had 35 (résumés),” she said. “So, the top 10 queens and kings get chosen to continue on in the process, and those are the ones who actually are announced at S.O. (Student Organization) Sing.”
The top 10 candidates then underwent a 10 to 15-minute interview with the panel of judges, who ranked the top five candidates for King and Queen, Gonzalez said. Throughout the process, the judges look at the candidates’ involvement at Tech, and how they were able to answer different questions and think on their feet.
“They really get to know you in that short amount of time and depending on how you answer the questions really determines what they think about you, and if you’re the best face for Texas Tech,” Gonzalez said.
The interview process is rigorous, Heck said.
“In fact one of my friends, another of the top 10 nominees, noted that it was as difficult, if not more difficult, than her medical school interview,” she said.
Following the interviews, students had the opportunity to vote for the top five candidates, Gonzalez said. The student vote and the interviews factor equally into which candidates ultimately get named King and Queen.
Although parts of the selection process can be stressful, particularly the interviews, Gonzalez said she hopes the candidates enjoyed the week.
“A lot of them told me today they though it was a really fun process and they really enjoyed it and had a great time,” she said. “Which was great to hear.”
Heck said she enjoyed getting to attend the events required of the homecoming candidates, particularly the Parade and the TECHsan Memorial. The best part of the process, however, was the friendships made throughout the week.
The stress of the process bonded all of the girls together, Heck said, especially leading up to top five.
“I became such good friends with several of the other girls, especially like in the top five as we got to go through the parade and on the field,” she said. “It was super sweet, and I really will continue to value the friendships, even beyond this year.”
Like Heck, Lane said the best part of the nomination process was the people he met.
“Honestly it was pretty awesome meeting all the other people,” Lane said. “There were some pretty awesome people, kind of the elite kiddos at Texas Tech, so it was really awesome to get to know them.”
His fellow candidates were all outstanding, he said, making his win a surprise. The win was not his alone, but the Saddle Tramps as well, he said.
“Winning this is definitely more for the Saddle Tramps,” he said. “You know, we’re trying to become more involved within student activities and also within Greek life, just kind of just people know that we’re out here. We do a lot of good stuff for the university.”
Heck said she is still in disbelief over being named Homecoming Queen. It is an incredible honor, particularly because of her love of the university.
“It’s really neat to be able to represent the student body and be able to be a voice to not only display the love that we have for Texas Tech, but also further the ideals that we have because the students of Texas Tech are great,” Heck said.
For those considering becoming candidates for King and Queen, the most important thing to do is get involved on campus, Lane said.
“That in and of itself is a reward. That’s rewarding too,” he said. “Honestly you do that, I feel like the Homecoming stuff just falls into place after that.”
Students should consider becoming candidates, he said. As a proud Tech student, it is unbelievable to have the opportunity to represent the study body.
“You’re representing Texas Tech’s student body and you know, I think it’s a great student body,” Lane said. “There’s 36,000 of us, and I’m one of two that get to represent them, so that’s pretty awesome.”