Homecoming court expands reign with campuswide nominations

2021 Homecoming Court king and queen presented with their crowns. Matt Ellett | Roundup

By Avery Ballmann | Staff Writer

As the first Asian American homecoming queen and the first-ever homecoming king, alums Nicole Ma and Chris Malone are returning to campus to help this year’s homecoming court.

Ma and Malone represented Chamber’s plan to expand and invite more nominees to the homecoming court process. This year, the student body had 60 students nominated for their chance to make the court.

Through a rigorous process of group interviews, only 14 students will officially be recognized on the homecoming court.

Cedar Park senior and President of Baylor Chamber of Commerce Isabel Lea said the expanded homecoming court includes both men and women to have a better representation of the student body and to include more students in homecoming activities.

“We want that outstanding group of students to include people from all organizations on campus, because there’s outstanding students even in the smallest student organization,” Lea said. “So we want them to be represented.”

There are several ways the Chamber reinforces inclusion into the court. All nominees will have a spot in the homecoming parade, be recognized at the first Pigskin Revue show and for less-developed student organizations, Chamber will waive the $55 application fee.

To include more students, each student organization is allowed to nominate one male and female student. Ma was selected by the Baylor Student Foundation and Malone was nominated by Student Senate, and they then filled out an application. The next step was a group interview with a panel of three judges who are alumni or prominent members of the Waco community.

Ma said after her interview she thought she botched it. She then realized she was treating the process too seriously in a negative way. Ma said she needed to “check herself” and once she did she was able to make connections with other nominees.

“I could start feeling like it was becoming sort of an identity thing,” Ma said. “So whether I do or don’t get any title at the end of the day, it was just an honor to be a part of so many students who are here together too.”

In the end, Ma did receive the title, but she said her favorite part was that she gained friendships from people all over campus.

Malone said he also cherished the connections he made while on homecoming court. The court still keeps in touch with one another via group text.

“All of these people were some of the most incredible people I’ve met and lifelong friends that have equal service,” Malone said. “They are all just as deserving, which was really neat to see.”

Chamber also recognizes the ‘outstanding members’ which are nominees that can be selected for philanthropy, Baylor involvement, academics and spiritual commitment. Nominees who make the court cannot make these outstanding spots as well.

As Ma’s name was announced in 2021, the queen’s cape was placed upon her. The cape is a longstanding tradition that has been placed on Baylor’s homecoming queens for years. The green velvet luscious cape claps along the neckline of the winner and it has gold fabric details hugging its train. The cape has some weight to it, physically and metaphorically.

“I get the opportunity to uphold this legacy that many people before me had held and they’ve had this cape too and so everything I felt was really symbolic,” Ma said.

Since Malone was the first male student on the homecoming court, he and Ma plan to start a tradition of their own. Since 2014, the homecoming queen’s passed down a pearl necklace and a scrapbook containing a picture of each queen and information about their involvement at Baylor. Ma plans to add in a picture of Malone as the first homecoming king.

“I’m definitely excited for all the guys that get to be represented now at Baylor,” Malone said. “So I think that part is really cool, and getting to know that I can be a part of it and then just kind of pass the torch to all the other guys at Baylor.”

The homecoming court will be announced by Lea at 7 p.m. Thursday in Waco Hall during Pigskin. Students can also see nominees at 7 a.m. Saturday in the homecoming parade.

“It’s an opportunity for those organizations to say, we’re backing this person, this person is incredible and they’re a part of our organization,” Lea said. “So that’s why I think it’s important we want even the small organizations to nominate and have someone representing them.”