Ashleigh Waddle Garnes and Angel Waddle Whitehead will return to their alma mater, Northwood High School, on Oct. 4 to crown the 2019 homecoming queen and king during halftime festivities.
Ashleigh and her younger sister Angel share the honor of being the only sisters to be crowned homecoming queen during their senior years at Northwood. They and their younger brother, Derek, all graduated from Northwood and went on to Virginia Tech for their college education.
They grew up in Rich Valley, where their parents, Danny and Vicki Waddle, still live.
Ashleigh and Angel have fond memories of their high school days. Both were involved in many extracurricular activities.
“I loved Future Business Leaders of America; it brought me so many opportunities to grow as a leader and role model. I attended both state and national conventions and served as a state officer my senior year. Sports were a huge part of my high school experience. Basketball and softball became my identity; our basketball team my senior year was a special group of girls with lots of great memories that I still reminisce about so many years later. I lived for Friday night football games and can proudly say I cheered on the Panthers at all 42 games, both home and away, during my four years. There is nothing quite like small town Friday night lights. I also attended Governor’s School for Agriculture at Virginia Tech during the summer prior to junior year. This experience was incredible and set the stage for my future,” Ashleigh said.
“I was a member of several clubs, including FBLA, SCA and Beta. I also have fond memories of the state FBLA conferences. I also attended a national FBLA conference in Florida my sophomore year. Traveling to Florida that summer was my first time on an airplane. I also have great memories of Ms. Kathy Wright’s home economics classes. I’m pretty sure I took every single class offered. I was also on the NHS golf team my senior year, which was a cool experience and encouraged me to be more confident and go out of my comfort zone,” Angel said.
Ashleigh was the 2002 homecoming queen, and Angel was crowned queen in 2006. Both women share fond memories of the event and what the honor really means.
“Homecoming queen is special, especially in a small town, because it is voted on by your peers, the people you have grown up with and known since birth... that’s pretty cool! When it was Angel’s year, I was a senior at Virginia Tech. I loaded up 12 of my sorority sisters and girlfriends and we headed to Saltville to cheer on little sis! Angel had no idea I was bringing a small gang and I love surprises, so it was icing on the cake after she was named queen,” Ashleigh said.
“I think the best part about us being the only sisters to win NHS homecoming queen is that Angel and I are complete opposites. We look different, have different styles and enjoy different activities. Homecoming queens don’t look the same; you can be different and still be nice to people. You will never regret being kind, such a powerful statement that I hold in my back pocket throughout all facets of life. Winning queen is special and a title that goes with you throughout your life if you let it. It is how you treat others and the value you place on other people’s feelings. The appreciation for my hometown and having an entire community that ‘raised’ me, coupled with my passion for people has been the driving force for every bit of my success in life. I wanted to make my people proud,” Ashleigh added.
Angel also has fond memories of her experience being crowned queen.
“It felt validating and rewarding to know that my peers thought I deserved the honor of being crowned homecoming queen. I always tried to be kind and welcoming to others, especially the underclassmen. High school can be intimidating and scary, so it was important to me to help freshmen feel comfortable in their new environment. I was in the eighth grade when Ashleigh was crowned queen, and I remember being the proudest, most excited little sister, ever. I was grateful to follow in her footsteps four years later. We were often compared growing up, but I wouldn’t trade being the ‘classic middle child’ for anything in the world. Ashleigh and our little brother, Derek, are my best friends,” Angel said.
“Being named homecoming queen is a reminder of the importance of genuine human interactions. Whenever I greet an old friend or meet someone new, I try to be an active listener and show sincere interest in a person’s life story.” Angel added.
Ashleigh doubled majored in animal and poultry sciences and dairy science in undergraduate school at Virginia Tech and earned a master’s degree in economics, business and marketing.
“I was extremely fortunate to attend VT and have an incredible college experience. There were more students in my freshman classes than my entire high school, but it was the perfect fit for me. Angel and I lived together a few years in Blacksburg, and I can honestly say those were some of the best times of my life. The best life lessons are learned outside the classroom. I’m grateful she and I not only get to share homecoming queen, but also a special sisterhood,” Ashleigh said.
Ashleigh lives in Blacksburg with her husband, Bruce, their son, Bodie, who just turned one, and their fur baby, Mox. She is the general manager for Container First Services, one of the top-tier waste and recycling companies in the United States.
She is a member of Blacksburg Baptist Church, Alpha Chi Omega, Hokie Women Rise and the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. She enjoys country music concerts, Hokie sports, tailgating, spin class, Sharkey’s and spending time with her family.
“Now that I’m a mom, a trip to Disney World is certainly on schedule in the upcoming year. My husband works in college athletics, so there is always a chance that coaching changes would require us to move. However, I’m certain that Blacksburg will be home to us for many years to come,” Ashleigh added.
Angel attended community college for one year before transferring to Virginia Tech. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Virginia Tech and a Master of Science in counselor education from Radford University.
“While a student at VT, I was chosen to be the Virginia Tech HokieBird. During my three years at VT, I traveled the country, participating and competing in cheerleading camps, competitions and all Virginia Tech sporting events. I competed in two national mascot competitions and was awarded with two NCAA all-American medals. I met many forever friends from different colleges on my mascot journey. I keep in touch with the University of Virginia Cavman, the University of Maryland Terrapin and the Coastal Carolina University Chanticleer on a weekly basis. Next to being crowned homecoming queen, being the Virginia Tech class of 2011 HokieBird is one of my proudest accomplishments,” Angel said.
Angel is a licensed professional counselor and works as a clinical supervisor at National Counseling Group, a community-based mental health agency in Christiansburg. Her primary role is supervising therapeutic day treatment services, a school-based counseling program in Floyd, Patrick and Montgomery counties. She is also a part-time private practice therapist in Blacksburg. Her specialty areas include eating disorders, self-esteem/body image and relationship issues.
Angel lives in Blacksburg with her husband, Gary, and their dog, Porter. She is a member of the American Counseling Association. A dedicated animal rights activist, she is a volunteer, advocate and patron of several farm animal rescues and sanctuaries throughout the East Coast.
She enjoys “taking long walks and naps with my dog, VT football tailgates, happy hours with my favorite people, scary movie nights, hanging out with my mom, taco dates with my husband and chillin’ with my two nephews, Bodie and Mox. I am also a huge fan of any and all psychological thriller books and shows. I recently finished The Handmaid’s Tale and The Sinner. So good!”
Angel has a future goal of opening a non-profit animal-assisted therapy farm dedicated to rescuing animals and helping children and adults suffering with mental illness.
“My farm sanctuary will be a place of safety, peace and therapy for both farm animals and people with special needs. I believe there is no greater therapeutic intervention than the presence and unconditional love of a gentle animal,” Angel said.