Photography by Debbie Porter
Yes, he truly is as nice and sincere as he seemed on television. If you don’t recognize our cover model this month, you were obviously not a loyal fan of ABC’s reality program, “The Bachelor.” Friendswood native Matt Hickl captivated fans of the show up until the final episode, where he finished close, but no rose petal, coming home out, but not down.
In the final episode, he wasn’t selected and was sent home with nothing more than some fond memories. “The experience was all that I’ll take from this. I did not get paid (to be on the show), and I didn’t get paid for work at the same time.” Memories, and putting Friendswood on the map.
This friendly Friendswood High School grad has seen his share of near misses. After graduating from Texas A&M at Kingsville with a finance degree, he wanted to follow in his dad’s footsteps. (His dad played pro football for the New York Giants.)
In pole vaulting, he jumped 18 1/2 feet. “Just five or six inches below the qualifying standard to go to the Olympic trials in 2000,” recalls Hickl. So, he went to the Seattle Seahawks on a free agent contract, played four pre-season games and got cut. This sent him to the NFL Europe where he got injured and missed the tryout with the New Orleans Saints.
Although the Houston Chronicle reported Hickl to be an actor and a model, he says he’s neither. “I’m not an actor, I’m a pharmaceutical rep. I’ve done modeling on the side, like through Christmas holidays and over the summer as a way to make money while I was in school. I still continue to model after five, or if they have something I can do.”
Proud mom, Carol Reagin, was thrilled to see her son on TV and a little apprehensive about her own appearance. (The show brings the bachelorette to town to meet the family.) “We were on camera for eight hours to get eight minutes,” she says.
The family found out Hickl didn’t win the girl at the same time that we all did, and Channel 13 was there to catch their reactions. I guess mothers do know best: Reagin said she had a gut feeling about what was going to happen. “I studied his screen shots and his body language, and I knew,” she recalls.
“I didn’t realize how many people watch the show and follow it,” says Hickl. “Obviously, my friends and family were really supportive throughout this whole thing.
“The real pleasant surprise has been all the support I’ve had from people in Houston and the surrounding areas. Total strangers have offered their sympathy and their support, and that’s been really awesome. It helped me deal with a situation that was pretty tough for me. You can imagine going through something like this (getting dumped on national television) and then coming home and not being able to say a word about it. And then, now that it’s over and everyone knows what has happened, people have been so supportive. And that goes for my friends and family, but also complete strangers. To me that just speaks to the character and the quality of the good people that I’ve grown up around and that I’ve had the privilege to work with.”
Since the show, Hickl’s mom has been getting e-mails at work with pictures of prospective dates. When asked if she had a message for Houston readers, she says, “No, I can’t give you his phone number!” H
hair and makeup by gigi vega, styling by carlos dumas stafford, wardrobe from crazy ranch designs, photographed at bay area equestrian center, thanks to larry howard