Every year, Pittsburg State University has a week of festivities to celebrate homecoming. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the university still celebrated homecoming with an adjusted schedule of events and with a virtual pep rally. The university held a virtual pep rally presented by PSU Alumni & Constituent Relations and Campus Activities on pittstate.tv, Oct. 16 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m, where it can still be viewed.
During the broadcast, homecoming king and queen were announced. D’Andre Phillips-Coble, senior in mathematics, nominated by the Black Student Association (BSA) was crowned king and Camille Holman, senior in plastics engineering technology and polymer chemistry, nominated by Alpha Sigma Alpha was crowned queen.
“It’s so exciting,” Holman said. “It’s really nice to know there is this big group of people that chose you and support you and it makes a difference that it’s my chapter because they all know me, so it helps that they chose me, it makes me feel warm.”
Both candidates are involved in many groups across campus. Phillips-Coble has been involved in the BSA and has served as president for the last two years, was a resident assistant for two years, and has been in the ROTC program all four years. Holman is in the Honors College, in the Society of Plastics Engineers, in society of women engineers, in advancement ambassadors, in chemistry club, and is president of panhellenic council.
Phillips-Coble had nominations last year but decided not to run for homecoming king, as he felt that as a junior, he was too young and “didn’t feel like the timing was right.”
“…Looking back on it, I’m glad I waited because although COVID happened, this was my most productive summer,” Phillips-Coble said. “I was able to do a lot of tutoring sessions virtually, college prep sessions with different school districts, a lot of community service in Pittsburg, not only the police rally but helping with voter registration in different areas and on campus.”
As the first person in his family to attend a four-year university and set to graduate in May, Phillips Coble said he was nervous to be on stage during the ceremony but was excited to hear he had won homecoming king.
“So, to even get in front of this university and be considered one of the top 12 for homecoming court was way above my expectations,” Phillips-Coble said. “I was just hoping to graduate, but Pittsburg had a plan for me and they wanted to see me do better than just graduate.”
Holman said winning homecoming queen was “very exciting” and that it has motivated her to continue strong for the rest of the semester.
“It was very motivating for me, because… this semester’s felt a little dead with COVID..,” Holman said. “So, it’s been nice to feel that support and I feel that now that I have that support I’m a little bit more confident in my positions…”
Phillips-Coble said he was surprised to hear he was homecoming king and that it reassured him he chose the right university.
“My freshman year I was very depressed coming here because it was a new environment and I was on the verge of dropping out of college… and I met some awesome professors, some awesome people with the BSA program and I’m so glad I didn’t drop out back then because I can see now I’m a senior and now PSU’s homecoming king,” he said.
Phillips-Coble said he hopes that by winning homecoming king he can show that anyone can win, regardless of their background.
“I’m a man of many different categories,” he said. “I’m African American, I’m bisexual, I’m a first generation (college graduate), I come from poverty… I hope by me winning homecoming king it will almost show other people who may fit in one of my categories, that they can be homecoming king as well, regardless of whatever category people could put you in.”
Both Holman and Phillips-Coble said that they didn’t mind having a virtual ceremony as they were both glad to have the opportunity to be involved, regardless.
First attendants were Morgan Smith, biology major representing Crimson & Gold Dance Team, and Raj Thakor, automotive technology major representing International Student Association.
Second attendants were Kaedra Brenner, plastics engineering technology major representing Student Government Association, and Dom Piccini, finance major representing Newman Club.
Along with the announcement of homing royalty, there were other performances live-streamed during the pep rally. This included performances from the Pride of the Plains Marching Band, Pitt State Cheer, and Pitt State Dance Team.
Dani Torgler, sophomore in psychology, danced as part of the PSU dance team and said performing virtually was “definitely a little strange…” but that it was still a great experience to be a part of.
“Performing in front of the camera took a part of that element (of performing in front of a crowd) away, but it was still exciting because I knew that people from all over were going to see the homecoming pep rally,” Torgler said.