Kathryn and Bret

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How We Met

It was 2013 and I was the internship coordinator at the Delmarva Shorebirds, a Minor League Baseball team. It was my job to hire, train and supervise all the interns that came in. One day, a colleague came to my cubicle and told me he knows this college student at Florida State that wanted to do an internship in Minor League Baseball. I told him to connect her to me and of course she got a phone interview because she had a connection to an employee. First impression actually wasn’t very good. We arrange a phone interview and when I called her in my boss’s office, she clearly wasn’t ready. I said “is this a good time” and she responded with “I’m driving, but sure”. We were a little skeptical at first, but she said all the right things and it was a relatively easy decision to offer her the position.

Hired!

She was the only out-of-state intern so I remember doing my best to try and help her however possible – moving assistance, recommendations on places to live, etc. She declined most of my help.

She moved down the weekend before her start date of February 4, 2013. I remember it well. For whatever reason, I was wearing a shirt and tie. I think I was just trying to look the part – big, bad internship supervisor. I remember our Monday morning meeting that day before the interns arrived. One of my colleagues said something to the effect of “Bret, look at you all dressed up. Are you trying to impress the interns?”. I was single at the time, but I promise I was just trying to give off this professional internship supervisor look.

Anyway, Kathryn Anne Hoffman walks in around 9am I think. Very professional – black dress pants, black/white blouse. Turned out to be my favorite outfit of hers over the course of the internship. But also stunning – straight blonde hair, green eyes and clearly someone that takes care of her body. Stop, Bret. Focus. I did. Never – and I promise never – did I think about Katie as someone that I could start dating, fooling around with or anything of the kind. I was the internship coordinator and I was serious about it.

Here was the problem – Katie was immediately interested in me. I could tell. But, I still thought nothing of it. I remember sitting in the ticket office as Valentine’s Day was approaching – so just a couple weeks into her internship. She was doing some odds and ends and I was too. She says to me “Bret, what are you doing for Valentine’s Day. Do you have a hot date?”. She said it in a way that I knew she was hoping my answer was no – and it was. I was single – big time. No date for Valentine’s Day.

The only common thread I knew Katie and I had was our passion for running and sports. We started to do more and more together. Still just as supervisor and intern. Maybe I was naïve, but I really didn’t think much of it. We went to see a Florida State vs. Maryland baseball game, we ran a half Marathon, we had breakfast together one morning. Again, just Katie and I. Keep in mind there were three other interns.

This is funny. I used to have to dress up as the mascot on community appearances. The interns would have to come along and help with our grassroots marketing efforts. I remember this one appearance at a local gas station. I think it was Katie and one of our guy interns and me. One of the interns always had to help the person into the mascot suit. I remember Katie eagerly volunteering. More one-on-one time. Nothing happened. Just Katie helping me put on the giant bird suit.

Now, we’re like 3 weeks into the internship and we’re passing out pocket schedules. It’s Katie, myself and maybe one other intern. We were in the neighborhood of Katie’s apartment and we decided to stop and see her little puppy – Mia. I thought it was crazy that this 20-year-old intern from Florida was going to bring a puppy – I’m talking 3 month old puppy – with her to Maryland, but it wasn’t my place to say anything. So, we stopped and met Mia. Katie ran in and got the pup and she ran right to me – and pee’d! Good sign? I’d say so. (Mia is now 4 years old and is still the shining star of our family)

We were definitely getting closer and I was starting to wonder. I think I even told my mom about Katie. Not sure though.

About a month into the internship, I have a party at my one-floor three-bedroom house. For whatever reason, Katie was the only intern that was able to come. Seriously, none of the other interns were in town that weekend. Probably 10 people came – not a huge party but there was plenty of alcohol, fun, bantering and beer pong. Katie pretty much owned the pong table for much of the night. Late in the evening, I got on the table and she “skunked me”. Yes, 6 cups to zero. So, as a man that abides by the rules, I ran a naked lap around the house in sub-30 degree temperatures. I think snow was on the ground. I mean Katie would not let me off the hook. I think she ran behind me to make sure I actually did the full lap. That part is a little blurry.

OK, now the juicy stuff. Everyone eventually leaves expect for…you guessed it, Katie. We were in the kitchen hanging out and the next thing I know Katie grabs me and slams me into the blinds of a window. Let’s keep this PG. The rest as they is history.

We kept our relationship secret for about 7 months to avoid any conflict. Towards the end of her internship, I had to tell her to stop coming in because so many of the baseball players and staffers seemed to flirt with her. It became a bit uncomfortable when I had to watch my secret girlfriend be hit on. She says I fired her, but I don’t recall any sort of pink slip.

How He Asked

It was a 3-month process I’d say. We live together, which of course complicated a few things. In September, I asked her mom, sister and brother to have dinner. We met at Chili’s in the Orlando area and shot the breeze. I asked them afterwards if they knew why I asked to have dinner without Katie and they said they thought we were either pregnant or I wanted to propose. Anyway, I stuttered a million times and finally found the words to say that I loved Katie and wanted their blessing in asking her to marry me. I’ve known them for 4 years and we have a great relationship. I knew the answer would be a resounding yes, but I still was nervous. The more important reason why I asked them to dinner was so I could get them in the loop and start getting help on purchasing a ring. I didn’t know the first thing about engagement rings and I didn’t want Katie to be part of the process. It had to be a surprise. Her sister, Danielle, was all over it. Finger size, check. Cut style, check. Now, I was ready to purchase the ring.

It took a couple visits to a diamond center, but I finally settled on something. I was of course a little unsure whether Katie would like it, but I was confident.

Fast-forward to Wednesday, Dec. 7. I finally pick up the ring. I had no problem hiding it. I put the box containing the ring in my book bag. Easy. We fly to New York City – my hometown – on Thursday Dec. 8. I was a little nervous travelling with the ring, but I just got a new book bag from work and it has a ton of different pockets that are all well protected. I got the ring to New York City without a misstep. Easy!

We stayed with my mom the night of Dec. 8 and then with my sister on Friday, December 9. Ring stays in the book bag.

Now, it’s the big day – Saturday, Dec. 10. We lounge around at my sister’s apartment on the upper east side during the morning. As afternoon approaches, we start to get ready to go see The Lion King on Broadway. The only thing I had to do now was transfer the ring from my book bag to my jacket pocket. When Katie went to do her hair in the bathroom, I quickly grabbed the box and put it in my puffy coat pocket. We had lunch at a little Italian place in Times Square and then headed for the show. The coat was so puffy that the ring was secure. No way Katie could tell unless she opened the pocket and she had no reason to do so.

I do remember one time when Katie was on my left side (ring was in my left pocket) and she was trying to hold my hand and get warm on a 32-degree day. I kind of slyly moved her to my other side.

The Lion King is done and now we head for the 7-train on 42nd and 7th. I told Katie we were meeting my friend from childhood and his wife for dinner at this undisclosed bar/lounge in Long Island City. Katie had no reason not to believe me. She’s a bit directionally challenged and leaves much of the transportation/planning to me, especially in New York. We get off the subway and begin to walk towards the meeting location. As we approach, I text my buddy and he says we’ll be there in 15 (that was all prearranged). So, I tell Katie that the place (Z Hotel) has a cool view of the skyline on the roof. In the elevator we go. I had a photographer stationed on the roof. He was pretending to do a photo-shoot. The view is stunning – Empire State Building, Queensboro Bridge, Chrysler Building, 1 World Trade.

We went towards the edge of the roof and I tell Katie to give me her phone so I could take a picture of her facing out towards the skyline. She obliges no questions asked. I grab her phone, fake it for a second and then I put it in my right pocket. I proceed to get down on a knee and said “OK, I’ve got the picture”. She turns around and sees me on a knee and immediately starts crying. I stumbled through four-five sentences before I said “Kathryn Anne Hoffman, will you marry me?”

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I remember the split seconds when she was crying and couldn’t get words out so she just kept nodding her head. I took that as a yes and slipped the diamond onto her finger. We took a few pictures and then went to check in – which was another surprise.

I also organized a little post-engagement celebration in the hotel’s bar/lounge. An hour later, a few friends plus my mom and sister showed up.

Then, Katie’s sister rushed in and gave her a big hug. Followed by her brother, his girlfriend and her mom. Katie had no idea that they flew in from Florida on Friday night to be there to celebrate the occasion. She again started crying and gave me a gigantic hug. I did it.

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Special Thanks

Alvin Caal
Photographer