Written by Gabriel Huff // Photos by Macy Cox
The University will crown its first Spring King during halftime of the Bisons basketball game against Henderson State University Feb. 25, aiming to honor men who showcase Harding’s values.
After 20 candidates were nominated for Spring King by different clubs, sports and organizations on campus, the Student Association (SA) invited the student body on Feb. 18 to vote for their favorite candidates. On Feb. 20, the top three finalists were named during chapel. Those finalists are senior Caden Burks from men’s social club TNT, senior Johnny Galloway from men’s social club Omega Phi, and junior Tanner Shumate from men’s social club Chi Sigma Alpha.
SA President Megan Sledge said the idea of Spring King has been thrown around for years, but this year the SA wanted to make it a reality.
“The purpose of having a Spring King is to honor men on campus who represent the values of Harding well,” Sledge said. “We honor women on campus with Homecoming Queen in the fall, so this idea was brought to life with the intent of honoring men in a similar way in the spring semester.”
Sledge said the process of organizing Spring King began about a month ago, as she worked to gather candidates. Assistant professor of communication Tim Hamilton and director of HU16 Mark Prior worked on the behind-the-scenes visuals for the chapel presentation.
Heather Kemper, the director of Alumni and Parent Relations, serves as the coordinator for the Homecoming Queen process, so when the SA approached her with the idea of a Spring King, she took on a role as an adviser and primarily assisted with the voting process.
“I loved the idea to represent and to honor someone in the spring semester and have it be part of the end of the basketball season, but then certainly attending chapel on Monday and seeing the response of the student body just solidified that it really was something that the student body was excited about and got behind,” Kemper said. “I shared with Meg that based on the number of votes for Homecoming Queen in the fall and Spring King in the spring — they were pretty close to equal, so there was definitely student buy-in, and they wanted to see one of their classmates honored in this way.”
Galloway said he found his nomination funny because his club created posters and buttons to begin campaigning for him.
“It’s a big honor, and it’s very exciting, and I was not expecting to be one of the three,” Galloway said. “So it was very fun to get that moment in chapel.”
Sledge noted she received great feedback and support from students and the Harding administration, adding that she believes Spring King is an important tradition to start on campus.
“I feel that this boosts the Harding community by providing a sense of more recognition for strong qualities of faith, leadership and service that we, as a whole, recognize in individuals on our campus,” Sledge said. “As Christians, it is important in our community to honor those who are striving to be more like Christ in all that they do.”
The Bisons basketball game will begin at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow.