Who doesn’t like a good love story? It’s even better if it’s about one of our favorite athletes. So in honor of wedding season — one bobsled bronze medalist even got married today! — eight Olympians and Paralympians recount the memorable day they got engaged…
Diving gold medalist David Boudia:
“When my now wife Sonnie and I first met we played a game called succotash. Basically it’s a mix of charades, Catch Phrase, one word guesses, etc.
So when I was going to pop the question I disguised it as a send-off party for my teammates and I to go to Olympic Trials in 2012. After we had appetizers our family and friends gathered around to play succotash, which wasn’t uncommon because we typically get together as a family and play games.
I got the idea to put ‘engagement’ as one of the words in the game. We started playing the first round (which was Catch Phrase) and Sonnie actually guessed engagement right away. Then the second round (charades) I tried to make a silly gesture that wouldn’t resemble ‘engagement,’ but of course she guessed it right away — which wasn’t part of my plan.
Unsure of what to do I pulled the ring out of the couch and got down on one knee. I said, ‘Sonnie Rae Brand’ and I froze, for about 20 or 30 seconds. Sonnie broke the silence and said, ‘Well, are you going to ask me?’ We all got a good laugh because that’s uncharacteristic of Sonnie. After I finally asked we took pictures and celebrated with our closest friends and family. Now we’re happily married and expecting a baby girl in September.”
Gymnastics all-around gold medalist Carly Patterson Caldwell:
“In 2012 my boyfriend at the time, Mark, tricked me into thinking we were going to a family member’s birthday dinner. As we were on our way to what I thought was dinner, he stopped off in a neighborhood that Mark said his parents were thinking of buying a place in. When we got closer he wanted to stop at this nearby park and walk around — which I thought was kind of weird — but I went with it.
We headed down a path and then when we turned a corner I saw rose petals and candles all over the ground with a ‘Will You Marry Me?’ sign. He also had champagne and a scrapbook sitting open that I had made him in our first year of dating. He had finished the last page, writing ‘Mark proposed at Prairie Creek Park in Richardson on 1-21-2012.’
He said some really sweet things and got down on one knee and asked if I would marry him. I can barely remember all the details because I was so surprised. I do know that I said yes at least five times in a row and jumped to hug him. The whole time our family was waiting across the creek hiding behind the trees waiting to celebrate after he proposed. It was perfect.”
Swimming gold medalist Jessica Hardy:
“I am married to Olympic Swiss swimmer Dominik Meichtry. After dating for seven years he asked me to marry him in 2012, shortly before he was set to leave for Olympic Trials. The weekend before he left he suggested we go for a ‘relaxing dinner,’ but little did I know he had bought an engagement ring and was planning on proposing on the beach at sunset. Of course not knowing anything was happening, the sun was very close to the horizon by the time I finished getting ready.
On our way to dinner Dom was speeding, running through yellow lights and I just blamed it on the fact that he might be nervous for trials. When he finally swerved off the road, parked by the sand and told me to get out of the car I didn’t know what was happening. He then popped the truck and pulled a blanket and cooler with champagne and chilled glasses in it. I was so blown away by his thoughtfulness that I didn’t think anything of it when he became unusually quiet as we sat on the blanket on the Malibu beach. I kept trying to make conversation, took pictures of the sunset and commented on the dolphins swimming by. As the last sliver of sun crept past the horizon, Dom told me to stand up. I thought he was ready to head to dinner but when I turned around he was on one knee.
He proceeded to lay his heart on the line — telling me how much he loved me and wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. But I didn’t hear one word because my brain was saying, ‘no way, this is not happening!’ in the most excited way possible, over and over again. I was so surprised! He eventually convinced me he was serious and I said, ‘of course!’
It was the second best night of my life — the first being our actual wedding, which took place on Oct. 5, 2013.”
Bobsled bronze medalist Jamie Greubel:
“My boyfriend Christian (who is an Olympic bobsledder for Germany) came to Lake Placid in the spring of 2013 to visit me, and then we took a trip to my parents’ house in Pennsylvania where he asked my dad for permission to marry me. In the past, we had talked about him asking my dad and he had to plan it because he lives so far away. So I knew it was going to happen soon. He proposed to me at his apartment in Germany. He lit candles and put on a suit jacket when I was in the other room. When I came back in he asked me to marry him.
After the Sochi Olympics we finally had time to start planning our wedding(s). Yes, we are having two weddings — one with Christian’s family in Germany (July 30!) and one with mine in the U.S. (at the end of August). It was a lot to do in a short period of time, but it all came together pretty quickly and we can’t wait to celebrate this special event in our lives.”
Ice hockey silver medalist Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson:
“May of last year I was skating at the Ralph Engelstad Arena [in Grand Forks, North Dakota) with my sister and best friends. It was the three of us on the ice and all the lights went out. My sister and friend volunteered right away to go check what was going on. All of a sudden the jumbo screen turned on and a video started playing. I immediately thought, ‘Oh, someone is getting married this weekend’ (because the Ralph is a venue for wedding receptions). After watching the video for a few seconds I realized the video was for me.
My boyfriend Brent came on the ice with spotlights on him and I, and he got down on one knee. After the video was over there were cheers and clapping and I looked over to see my family and friends who were all there to surprise me. We got married last month and had our reception at the Ralph, where he pulled off a pretty good proposal, if you ask me.”
Olympic gymnast and world medalist Jake Dalton:
“I wanted to surprise my now wife (and fellow gymnast) Kayla Dalton by taking her somewhere we have always talked about going. It’s this place in Oklahoma called Turner Falls that has waterfalls and log cabins you can rent out. So we planned a fun camping trip with [gymnasts] Steve Legendre and his wife Alaina in May of last year.
The first day we were there we hiked to these nearby waterfalls. After taking a picture of Steve and Alaina, I asked them to take our picture. After a couple of shots I got on my knee and proposed. Kayla was so surprised — and that was the plan. We got some great photos and a video thanks to Steve and Alaina. The four of us spent the rest of the time relaxing, hiking and making campfires. It was a great time and something I will remember forever. We got married earlier this year in May.”
Swimming bronze medalist Caitlin Leverenz:
“My boyfriend Collin Smith and I have a favorite hiking place in the Berkeley Hills. Early one week he mentioned going the coming weekend but when the day came it was cold and pouring rain. Somehow Collin convinced me it was still a good idea to go. That morning I rolled out of bed, didn’t shower and put on big baggy sweats and Collin’s giant ski jacket and gloves.
About five minutes into the hike Collin stopped me — and all I was thinking was if we’re going to stay warm we have to keep walking. He grabbed my hands and started talking and that’s when I realized what was going on. I was half crying, half laughing by the time he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. After I said yes two of my best friends and teammates came running out of the trees with cameras screaming and crying.
The spot where Collin proposed normally has a beautiful bay view, but it was so rainy that all you could see was clouds behind us. Collin said the ring was burning a hole in his pocket and he couldn’t wait for the weather to turn around!”
Paralympic alpine skiing bronze medalist Danelle Umstead:
“It was Feb. 17, 2006 and (my boyfriend/guide) Rob and I were in Park City, Utah. We were renting a condo and one afternoon he needed to go to the store. I wanted to go with him but because we had a couple friends staying with us he said, ‘I really want to go with Rick.’ I thought it was kind of rude because I wanted to hang out with him and it was our anniversary of when we met.
So they went to the store and when they came back he walked me to the window and there was a bunch of lights flickering. But even though I had better vision back then I couldn’t make them out. I asked, ‘what is that out there?’ He said ‘candles.’ So I asked what they said and he replied, ‘It says marry me.’ I wondered out loud if Rick was proposing to his girlfriend again because they were already engaged. I figured that’s why he wanted to go to the store with Rick — to help.
But then all of a sudden he got down on one knee and said, ‘No, I want you to marry me.’ He had put ‘Marry Me’ in the snow in tea candles. I was in such shock I forgot to say yes. We got married on April 18, 2008 at the top of Snowbird and we skied down in our wedding clothes. It was the most beautiful wedding.”