Alayna and Michael
How We Met
Michael and I met in Atlanta at a national gymnastics competition in 2009. I was new to the team, and a sophomore in college and he was competing for his graduate school. We bonded over mutual friends and parted ways. That next summer, in 2010 I came home to Chicago from my junior year of college to coach gymnastics where I had grown up and been coaching since high school. Lo and behold Mike was there too – coaching part time while getting his PhD at a nearby university. As a joke, we told the high school girls we coached that we were dating. They loved every minute of it as we continued to embellish the story.
As August came and went, I moved back to college and Mike and I did not speak for the whole year. In the summer of 2011, I returned home to coach yet again. Mike still had our same group of high school girls to coach, and to keep up the drama he told them that he had broken up with me. Meanwhile, as we pretended to fight and make up in the gym, we started actually hanging out in real life. on August 13, 2011 Mike and I decided to make it official (which we did not tell our gymnasts until almost a year down the road) and we have not looked back!
How He Asked
Michael and I are both from Chicago, and although we have also lived in Columbus, St. Louis, and now Denver, Chicago will always be home and where we started dating.
On August 26, 2016 we were flying from Denver, Colorado to Columbus, Ohio for a wedding. As I checked us in for the flight I noticed that Michael had pre-boarding for some reason, but I didn’t think much of it. With forty-five minutes left in the flight the captain announced that we were crossing over the Mississippi into Illinois, Mike sidled up to me across the empty middle seat and started talking about how important it was for him that we get engaged in Illinois. He explained how we had traveled and moved a lot and were finally beginning to feel settled after five years. At this point I am wracking my brain about the next time we will be home, thanksgiving? christmas? However, right at that moment he pulled out the ring box, 37,000 feet above Illinois and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him!
After hyperventilating and saying, yes! the flight crew had changed the over head lights from blue to pink and were there applauding as the captain announced our engagement over the loud speaker. I later learned that Michael had paid for pre-boarding so he could get on the plane and explain his plan to the crew, get us our own row, and create the “Mississippi” signal with the captain so he knew when we were in Illinois, all before I even boarded. It was absolutely a flight to remember and extremely special how he incorporated all of the cities we have shared together!