GLEN ROSE – Homecoming 2016 was a bit of a departure for Glen Rose High School senior Matthew Willis.
As a member of the football varsity his entire high school career, the 17-year-old had mostly been confined to the locker room with members of his team during previous halftimes.
He never had the chance to witness or experience the announcements and coronations of the senior Homecoming Court as the new Homecoming King and Queen were announced each year.
But this year was different.
This year, Matthew Willis was one of those nominees for king – as were Dietrick James, Kully Reynolds, Ethan Hartman, and Scott Gossett.
Gossett took the Homecoming King crown this year.
The queen nominees this year Emilie Cantwell, Jailing Evans, Sophie Bogart, Hannah Andrews and Cassia Niedziela. The GRHS princesses were Laiken McAnear, Bryanna Lytle and Shelby Simpson. and Cassi Niedziela.
Niedziela took the Homecoming Queen crown.
As a nominee, Matthew got to decorate and ride in a special golf cart .. a special vehicle that only be described as (in the words of this reporter) “The Nerdmobile.”
More on that in a minute.
This year, as a nominated member of the court, Matthew finally got to see this process with his own eyes.
“This was the first commencement I actually got to see,” he said.
All things considered, being a member of the Homecoming Court came with its own unique perks.
For instance, Matthew had access to one of the golf carts provided to the school by Squaw Valley Golf Course – and the freedom to decorate that cart any way he wished.
As a high ranking academic in his class, Matthew decided he wanted to decorate his cart as “nerdy” and “math-y” as possible.
Which is how “The Nerdmobile” was created.
Some background: Matthew Willis’ nuclear family consists of himself, his father Elvin, his mother Laura, and his sister Miranda, a junior pre-med major at the University of Texas in San Antonio who will be 21 later this year.
The Willis family lives in Granbury. Matthew Willis transferred to Glen Rose in eight grade.
Matthew’s mom, Laura, has a lot of artistic talent. So she was Matthew’s “go-to” person for decorative help with the golf cart.
“We wanted to decorate the cart with candy and books and calculators,” Matthew explained.
Laura Willis said she was happy to help her son.
It took Laura Willis several days of planning and several hours of actual execution to match the decorations with the cart.
She said when she starts thinking about artistic matters, scads of ideas tend to float around in her head.
(Only the actual photo can truly do “The Nerdmobile” justice.)
Laura Willis said she and her son had a wonderful time decorating the vehicle.
“It just all came together,” she said. “Each of these kiddos got to put their own personality into these carts and so did he (Matthew). It was very fun.”
The nominees got to choose which parent they wanted to walk with them during the ceremony.
So Matthew – naturally – chose his mother. She drove the cart while he sat on the passenger side.
“We all got a good laugh out of it,” Laura Willis said.
And now? All Matthew Willis needs is a good theme song.