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Ole Miss Homecoming Queens Through The Years

Mary Kathryn Phillips, 2016 Ole Miss Homecoming Queen.
Mary Kathryn Phillips, 2016 Ole Miss Homecoming Queen.

Homecoming at Ole Miss is the week that fans, alumni and families come together to share memories of times past, but not forgotten. Stories can be heard of a time before tents covered the Grove and fans had to travel to Jackson, Mississippi, to watch the Rebels play.

Many aspects of life, culture and the campus have changed over the years but the pride and honor that comes with being named Homecoming Queen has not.

The first Homecoming Queen was Josephine Johnson, and she was crowned in 1952. Ole Miss has since crowned sixty-four Homecoming Queens with the sixty-fifth, Mary Katherine Phillips, set to make her walk across the football field this Saturday.

Since the position of Homecoming Queen was created, it has been highly valued and sought after. The Homecoming Queen is expected to be graceful, involved, welcoming and studious. With all of this attention come amazing memories, an appreciation for traditions and hopes for the future.

Memories from Past Homecoming Queens:

Photo Courtesy of Maggie Day
Photo Courtesy of Maggie Day

Allyson Heflin Riser (1988): “Being named Homecoming Queen at Ole Miss in 1988 was such a humbling and exciting experience and it is truly one of my best memories from my time there.”

Amy Harrison Lamberson (1991): “I remember being able to stop by my family’s tent in the Grove for a brief minute to visit with them and some close friends from home before going to get dressed for the game. I got there just in time to watch my daddy light the grill and nearly catch a couple of trees on fire. I exaggerate only a little. My hair smelled like smoke.”

Maggie Day (2011): “Campaigning with my friends is something I remember fondly. It was hard work, but I so enjoyed getting to spend the long hours with them. We designed t-shirts and buttons, shot hours of video, ran a social media campaign and went door to door practically everywhere on and off campus. One friend managed my schedule while several others helped me flesh out ideas for speaking engagements. My friend’s mom even made the trip to Oxford to paint my sign to go in front of the Union! Everyone involved made huge contributions, and together we had a great sense of camaraderie.”

Traditions from Past Homecoming Queens:

Photo Courtesy of Amy Harrison Lambert.
Photo Courtesy of Amy Harrison Lamberson.

Allyson Heflin Riser (1988): “Campaigns for Queen were run a little bit differently back then. There was no online voting and instead ballot boxes were placed in academic buildings and the Union. My sorority members held signs for me on Election Day and I still remember seeing my name written on car windshields all over campus. There wasn’t a Homecoming Parade on campus back then but I recall being thrilled to be photographed with Chancellor Turner in the Grove for the cover of the Homecoming game day football program.”

Amy Harrison Lamberson (1991): “While there have been many changes at Ole Miss since I was crowned in 1991, I find my heart still feels the same for our beloved university as it did when I stepped on campus in 1988.

Rosemary McGowin Corte (1993): “I feel that Ole Miss has always embodied southern hospitality and a welcoming and contagious atmosphere regardless of our team. These traditions have not, and hopefully will not, change.”

Qualities Former Homecoming Queens Believe Future Homecoming Queens Should Have:

Photo Courtesy of Allyson Heflin Riser.
Photo Courtesy of Allyson Heflin Riser.

Allyson Heflin Riser (1988): “When I think of an Ole Miss Homecoming Queen, I think of a young lady who has given of herself to Ole Miss through student involvement and service, academic success and time invested in others on campus and someone who is well-liked and respected by her fellow students. Congratulations to this year’s Homecoming Queen! It is an exciting hoor to represent our great University and one I will always be proud of.”

Amy Harrison Lamberson (1991): “I hope the new Homecoming Queen genuinely loves her university and has the deepest appreciation for the diversity of her people.”

Rosemary McGowin Corte (1993): “The Homecoming Queen represents not only game day but the spirit of the school. They should be hospitable, honorable and inclusive of other and their community. Hotty Toddy!”

Hilary Gaddis Craddock (1999): “It was such a blessing and honor to represent Ole Miss as Homecoming Queen years ago. Today Ole Miss has grown so much and with social media all of our success is much more present on a national level! I hope that she is humbled by that and represents our school with outstanding character and grace.”

Maggie Day (2011): “I would hope that every Homecoming Queen embodies the Ole Miss spirit. Any woman elected is sure to be intelligent, hard-working and extremely qualified. But I hope beyond that, she would exude grace under pressure, humility in times of victory, joy in every circumstance and love for her Ole Miss family. We all know how wonderful yet trying it can be to be a fan of Ole Miss and the University. We have achieved great triumphs and weather heartbreaking missteps. I hope every Homecoming Queen is able to take tough times in stride and use the glorious times to raise up her peers and the University. That’s the spirit of Ole Miss.”

Amy Goodin is a writer for HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at argoodin12@gmail.com.

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