ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com Student
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Casey Francis has been representing Penn State for the last three years as a student athlete, a role she's adjusted to and embraced. But now as she enters her final season on the swim team, she's representing the university in a new way: as a member of the annual Homecoming court.
Francis found out she was selected to the court in the middle of practice when members of the Homecoming Royalty Committee showed up with balloons and a crown for her. Even though she saw them out of the corner of her eye, she still finished the set before jumping out of the pool to celebrate.
"I saw them cheering while I was in the middle of my set but I couldn't stop because I don't like to stop in the middle of a set," Francis said. "So I finished what I was doing and then when I touched the wall they were all cheering so I hopped out of the pool and they gave me a crown and a poster."
Being selected to the court came after a long application process. Once Francis found out she was nominated, she had to send in a formal application, which included five essays. From there, she had a 30-minute interview before finally being picked.
"I was in shock," she added. "I was really happy though and I'm really excited. It's been an awesome experience so far and I don't want it to end."
Adding homecoming engagements to an already busy schedule as a student-athlete has been crazy for Francis, but she's taking it all in stride and enjoying every moment.
"I've had to swim on my own time and luckily I've had no exams, no papers, no projects this week," Francis said. "It's definitely been really hectic but I enjoy it. I'm loving meeting all these new people outside the athletic world and I'm creating friendships that I'm sad I'm only creating my senior year."
"Representing Penn State is just awesome," Francis said. "I used to say that breaking the school record last year was my best Penn State experience and I think this might top it. This has been so much fun and we're not even halfway through the week yet."
For as much excitement as Francis has had outside of the pool this week, she has brought just as much excitement in the pool for the Nittany Lions throughout her Penn State career. In 2015-16 she broke the Penn State and McCoy Natatorium records in the 1650 freestyle with a time of 16:05.37 at the Penn State Invitational, and was named the Big Ten Co-Swimmer of the Week for her accomplishments. One of many strong weeks for the two-time NCAA qualifier.
Francis and the rest of her Nittany Lion teammates open up the regular season Thursday night, October 6th vs. Towson in McCoy Natatorium at 5:00 p.m.
Students can vote for the Homecoming King and Queen at homecoming.psu.edu.