By Madison Gillespie
Valentine’s Day weekend has settled over the University of Illinois, and many campus couples will be out celebrating tonight. There will be plenty for them to cherish on this romantic holiday: first dates and first kisses, inside jokes, school dances and formals – but most importantly, the story of how they met. This is a story unique to every couple, essential in understanding how their romance came to be. The Way We Met, a widely popular Instagram account, shares the distinct first encounters of couples throughout the world. In the spirit of this social movement and in honor of Valentine’s Day and love, here is UIUC’s very own The Way We Met, featuring some of the cute first stories of our even cuter collegiate couples.
Robert Sniezko & Siena Walsh
“We met in high school sophomore year. We really started talking after hanging out at a friend’s birthday party. That night we started texting and have talked every day since. This Fourth of July will be our third anniversary, and we’re happier than ever.”
Samantha Contreras & Theodore Brandt
“We met in seventh grade. He had a crush on me since freshman year and finally asked me out junior year around homecoming! Two years later and we’re still going strong!”
Marco Orozco & Lauren Ballestro
“Marco and I met working at an Old Navy clothing store in Carbondale, Illinois. At first, I avoided his sections, because he made me so nervous I felt like an idiot every time I talked to him. Years later, he’s my road-trip companion, hiking partner, what’s-going-on-in-this-rugby-game-explainer, fellow French fries and funny movies lover, perfect listener and biggest supporter. Hands down, the greatest benefit I received from my part-time retail job was my boyfriend/best friend.”
Rachael Bolek & Billy Spreadbury
“We met sophomore year of high school when we had a radio show together, but didn’t start dating until senior year. I went to his house to get help with Calculus, and the rest is history.”
Madeline Sievers & Gage Adams
“I had lived in my hometown of Fisher my entire life. In the fifth grade, Gage moved to Fisher from a nearby town named Ludlow. We had always known each other and been in the same classes, since Fisher is such a small town. When junior high came around, we had somehow ended up sitting at the same lunch table, having some mutual good friends, and being in the same friend group. In high school, our friends remained pretty much the same with the addition of a few new friends, and we even had the same study hall together, so we always sat together. Sophomore year, our group of friends decided to pair up so we could all go to the homecoming dance together. So, Gage and I went together as friends. The summer after our sophomore year, I developed a huge crush on Gage. My best guy friend in our friend group knew, so I told him everything and tried to convince him to drop the hint to Gage that I liked him. I hoped against all hope that year that he would ask me to homecoming as more than friends. It finally happened, and I was so excited! After that, he asked me on our first date. Neither of us had ever dated anyone before, so it was an entirely new and exciting experience for both of us. We became “official” about a month after we went to homecoming our junior year together. Since then, we’ve been with each other for a little over two years, and have been to three high school dances and proms together, graduated together, and come to the University of Illinois together!”
David Wolf & Emily Matusek
“David and I met on the Fourth of July at his family’s farm in Galena, Illinois. His family and my family have known each other for some 30 years and somehow David and I never really crossed paths. My family would go up to his farm a couple weekends a year, my dad would go on hunting trips with his uncle and dad, and I had been to his family’s parties but somehow David and I never seemed to meet.
Before David and I got around to meeting, that same year his uncle tried to set us up for prom. I thought about it awhile but we went to different schools and the thought of going with a stranger really didn’t interest me all that much (even if I had known his family practically my whole life). Turns out he had the same idea and didn’t think that going to prom with a stranger sounded all that fun.
A couple months after that, the Fourth of July rolled around and my family decided this year we would make the trip out to the Wolf’s farm for their annual party. I knew that David was going to be there since it was his family’s party and I thought it might be fun to get to know him. We pulled into the farm and I started saying hi to his family and our friends. As I was talking to his grandma, I saw David for the first time. He came over to his grandma and interrupted my conversation with her. Though I was little taken aback, I figured it was fine and I casually strolled away. Everywhere I went though, it seemed David was there (which sounds a little creepy) but he later admitted that he was just trying to start up a conversation with me but really didn’t know how.
A tradition for the party is always to have a mudslide leading into a big mud pit down a hill. Everyone who goes down gets covered in mud, from head to toe but it is a blast, nonetheless. I threw on my swimsuit and went down a few times. At this point I had done a pretty good job of keeping my hair and face out of the mud but the rest of my body was covered. As I was standing there waiting my turn and mud covered, I notice David had let all these people cut in front of him so now we were in line separated by one person. Then, on top of that, David’s uncle/my dad’s best friend comes over and says to me, “Emily, remember that boy I thought should take you to prom? Well, this is David!” He too was dripping in mud, and we smiled at each other and awkwardly waved. He asked me how I was and we started a little small talk.
Next thing I knew, it was my turn in line and I started down the slide. As soon as I went down David jumped on and followed right behind me spraying me with more mud then I could have ever wanted. Then, once we both hit the mud pit he splashed me and covered my hair, face, mouth and ears with even more mud. I was a little mad but I couldn’t deny it was a little cute.
For the rest of the party we were inseparable. We went swimming together in the river, played volleyball and toured around the property on four wheelers. When it was time for the fireworks show, David and I sat and talked through the whole thing. Then when it was time to go, I gave him a hug and said goodbye. He never did ask for my number but we found each other on Facebook and went to Chili’s as soon as he got back from the farm.
Chili’s was our first official date, and we hit it off again really well. After Chili’s, he came to my house, then to my softball game, then out with my team and finally back to my house. We stayed up talking and around 2:30 in the morning he went home (it was a 13 hour first date!).
Since those days we have been pretty much inseparable. Talking about how we met is one of our favorite topics and it brings back a really happy day for both of us. Being together has made us both better and happier people and I am looking forward to the future we have together.”
All images courtesy of Madison Gillespie