A Hoco Game Plan of My Own

Written By: Jillian Russell

Many NHHS students have had some incredible experiences on our very own Davidson Field over the years and with its new renovations, there is even more opportunity for creating exciting memories in the future. But have all Sailors hurried across the field barefoot like a distressed Cinderella in front of an entire football stadium? Have they ever had to change in the darkness of a hidden storage closet? Do they know what it’s like to make three costume changes and appearances in the span of fifteen minutes? I know I never did. At least, until it happened to me at the 2017 Homecoming game.
I was ecstatic when I first found out about my nomination as Senior Homecoming Princess alongside the other incredible nominees, Jade Mendoza and Holly Kanen. It was such an honor just being considered to be a part of the NHHS tradition because I knew the experience would be one to remember for years to come. While I was already contemplating dress styles and hairdos for the big night, I also had to start thinking ahead for how I was going to balance my team dinner with the Pep Squad, a halftime performance with cheer, and the ceremonial Princess nominee events. Just like the football team, I began forming a game plan of my own. I knew I would be making a total of four costume changes in order to be on time to each individual Homecoming activity. First, I wore wear my cheer uniform and flower crown for the Pep Squad team dinner and annual team photos. And as soon as the last photo was taken, I rushed to the Social Hall bathroom with my mom where she helped me slip into my gown and a pair of high heels. Then we headed over to the library to meet with the rest of the court, the teachers, and ASB directors who helped organize the event.
Once we arrived, all six Homecoming Princesses took a traditional group shot together like the ones you see in the movies and it made me feel almost nostalgic for some reason. Then we all sat down on the couches by the library’s entrance and got to know each other a little better. This was one of my favorite parts of the evening because I realized that being nominated not only made each girl a symbol of Sailor spirit, but it also brought together a small group of students representing all different activities and organizations on campus. I had a lot of amazing conversations with the younger girls that I hadn’t gotten to meet and I also got to catch up with those who I hadn’t spoken to in a while, which made the night extremely comfortable and carefree. Before heading over to the field, I switched out my heels for a pair of bulky cheer shoes. I also slipped on a high waisted skirt underneath my gown, preparing for the speedy change I would have to make after I was announced by ASB.
The second I was huddled into a bicycle carriage on the field with Junior Princess, Carolyn Altshuler, I felt my stomach drop like an anchor. I was so focused on making it to the storage unit and back in time for my performance that I completely forgot about there being a Queen. Soon an ASB member dressed as an Oompa Loopa pedaled our cart down the sideline and we waved at the crowd as Jaelyn Cooper started announcing each nominee. I was next. I watched as the girls strutted down the field and met with their escorts. I had already told my dad that I wouldn’t have enough time to walk to my seat with him, so he was prepared for when I darted past him and towards my friend junior Karoline Shannon and my mom. Once we were in the storage unit, they assisted me as I stealthily slipped out of my gown, putting on my third look of the evening, a sparkly blue crop top. Since I already had my shoes and skirt on, I had more time to put my hair up in a bow and dash back out onto the field.
I was surprised to find out that I was actually a bit early for my halftime performance and I was able to take a moment to catch my breath before jumping straight into the routine. When Varsity cheer was announced, my team and I took the fifty-yard line and danced and stunted to the best of our ability. I allowed myself to get lost in the music and focus solely on the counts. Not once did I think about changing back into my dress until striking my ending pose in the routine, which I held for a few milliseconds before sprinting back towards the storage unit. I met with Karoline and my mom inside and we were able to quickly maneuver out of my rally outfit and back into my dress, but we fumbled with lacing the straps that crossed over my shoulder blades. The last performance before crowning was put on by the dance team and I could hear the muffled beat of their music through the thick cement walls of the storage closet. “We have to hurry! It’s almost over…” I said anxiously as I felt fidgeting fingers fix the back of my gown.
“Done!” shouted my mom excitedly. “Get out there, Jill!”
I hesitated for a moment before sprinting back out of the room and onto the field for the final portion of the halftime show, looking down at the ruby red nail polish upon my toes. No time for shoes! I ran across the field, the plastic grass crunching beneath my bare feet. Fast! Fast! I lifted the heavy tool skirt of my black gown and started sprinting even quicker. The bright stadium lights nearly blinded me as I gazed out across the field and at the sea of people swarming the stands. I gulped, still trying to steady my nervous heartbeat. Relax and enjoy the moment, I told myself. My dad stood above my chair dressed in a black tux and I could feel him eyeing me with a look of excitement and anxiousness. Suddenly, the booming voice of senior ASB member, Jaelyn Cooper took the microphone, drawing everyone’s attention towards her. “And your 2017 Homecoming Queen is… Congratulations Jillian!”
An explosion of electric blue powder shot into the air and I nearly jumped at the sound of my own name, the crowd’s loud roar filling my ears. I shuffled across the field with my lips in a wide smile, trying to figure out where to look and where to go. I turned and looked back at my dad before Mr. Boulton and members of ASB came towards me with a bouquet of roses, a velvet cape, and a glittering tiara. In that moment, I felt truly regal. But it wasn’t the gown or the jewels upon my head that made me feel that way. I was so honored just to be a member of the first Homecoming court to walk the new Davidson field and happy to experience the special moment with friends, family, teammates, and the entire student body. Having so many wonderful people in my life who are willing to support me and even help me dress in a dark and unfamiliar storage unit at a record of thirty seconds made me feel so blessed. It was the last Homecoming game of my high school career and I was able to perform with my cheer team and be a part of Sailor tradition all in one evening. And as they say, I certainly saved the best for last.