Beauty is in the eye of the ball handler

Shelby Waldron, University of Dallas senior guard
File photo by Dallas athletics

Shelby Waldron was online one day looking into potential beauty pageants she could compete in. It was during her junior year at the University of Dallas where she plays basketball and competes in track for the Crusaders.

People typically don’t associate college athletes with beauty pageant stars, but Waldron is quite the exception. She hadn’t entered a pageant since she was the two-time Miss Beaumont winner in her home state of California.

“I hadn’t done one since my senior year of high school, but I texted my mom and told her I really wanted to do a pageant again,” Waldron said.

Her mom told her that was fine, but being so far away from home, it was on her to make it happen. Determined as ever, Waldron did, but she didn’t just compete in the pageant, she won it, earning the honor of being named Miss Waco. That earned her the opportunity to compete to be Miss Texas.

She won that, too.

“I wanted to win Miss Waco because it had been so long since I had won one, and when I realized I qualified for Miss Texas, I knew my family would support me,” Waldron said. “I wanted to win it for them and prove to myself that I can still do it, that I still got it.”

Here’s the craziest thing about the Miss Waco competition. That same day she competed in track at the Hardin-Simmons Invitational in Abilene. You hear of athletes juggling different things in their lives and making it all work. Waldron took that to the extreme in this instance.

“I had to switch from track mode, from jumping far, jumping high and running fast, and drive three hours and get into pageant mode, girly mode and high heel mode,” Waldron said with a laugh.

Craziness is part of her life, though. She thrives on it. It’s why she loves playing basketball and also being a long jumper and triple jumper on the track team. Not to mention doing her school work.

“I’m used to focusing on no sleep and running on energy,” Waldron said. “I do better in everything when I have more on my schedule. It keeps me in line.”

Waldron is a role player on the basketball team at Dallas, appearing in nearly 50 games over the course of her career, scoring 28 points and grabbing 42 rebounds in 47 games.

“I do my best to be a senior leader,” Waldron said. “I’ve improved my communication skills and have done a good job of getting the team where it needs to be.”

She loves to compete regardless of what it is. Off the court, she stays on top of things in the classroom.

“It’s all about planning and making sure you can fit everything into your schedule. It’s important to stay on top of your homework. The reward at the end of it is to say I am able to balance everything and I am successful at it all.”

Because of her role as Miss Texas, Waldron also does a lot of community service, participating in at least one charity event a month.

“I want to be an example and a role model. I enjoy being able to give back,” Waldron said.

Waldron is scheduled to compete in a national pageant this summer and wants to represent Texas well, and being the competitive person that she is, she wants to win. Waldron has been asked about one day competing for Miss USA and it’s not something she has ruled out entirely.

She still has nearly three months of basketball left and then it’s back to track. The bonds she has forged with teammates are ones she cherishes and she’s thankful she has made the most of the opportunities in front of her.

“I’ve been very fortunate and blessed and I encourage younger people that I meet to do it all,” Waldron said. “I tell them not to contemplate whether you should try this or try that because you never know if you’ll like it until you try it. You might fall in love with it.”

Regional Notes

Speaking of the University of Dallas, Michelle DeCoud reached a milestone Saturday in the Crusaders’ 71-43 win over Johnson & Wales (Colo.). The senior forward made a layup early in the opening quarter to reach the 1,000-point mark. She finished with 12 overall and is the 14th in program history to do it. She’s also the eighth player in program history to score at least 1,000 points and snag at least 500 rebounds.

Cam Caldwell had himself quite a day in Sewanee’s SAA opener against Centre Saturday. The junior guard out of Charlotte poured in 17 points and nearly had a double-double as he grabbed eight rebounds for the Tigers in their 70-63 victory. It was the second consecutive win for the Tigers, who are 3-3 overall. Caldwell has scored in double figures three times, including in back-to-back games.

Travion Kirkendoll is making 30-point games almost seem routine. He hit the mark for the third time this season Sunday in Centenary’s 86-69 win over Hendrix. He finished with 32 in the win over the Warriors, marking the second time in as many games that he has scored 30 or more. The senior standout also grabbed seven rebounds, dished out five assists and was relentless on defense as he tallied five steals.

Caroline Naumann was in a zone this past week for Lynchburg, recording two double-doubles and setting a career-high in points in back-to-back games. The senior scored 30 in a 64-54 win over Virginia Wesleyan last Thursday, with half of her points coming from the free-throw line. She also grabbed 11 rebounds. Both the free throws made and attempted are single-game program records. She followed that up with a 35-point, 13-rebound effort in an 87-63 win over William Peace Saturday for her fifth double-double of the season. The 35 points tie a program record and are the most in a game since 1983. 

Brian Lester

Brian Lester is a reporter in Florida. He has 15 years of experience at newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, spending 10 at The Courier in Findlay, Ohio. Lester also writes an Around the Region column for and wrote the book Perfect Run as No. 1 about the 2009 Division II men's basketball champions University of Findlay. He is a graduate of Eastern Illinois.