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Yellow Jacket Valentines, Part 2

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GoJackets

GoJackets

Feb. 12, 2013

Day Two of our Valentine's series. Each of these married couples have one thing in common - they were all Yellow Jacket student-athletes.

Cupid is a sports fan. Who knew?

In the athletic department at Georgia Tech, and other schools as well, romances have been initiated in weight rooms, training rooms, dining halls and study halls for many years. It makes sense, actually. When not in class or at home sleeping, student-athletes spend the majority of their time in proximity of the athletic department. Men's and women's teams share weight training, sports medicine and academic tutoring facilities. Their paths cross often.

Golfer Matt Kuchar met his wife, Sybi, a Georgia Tech tennis player, while on the Flats. Yellow Jacket men's tennis coach Kenny Thorne met his wife Bridget, a Tech track athlete, when Thorne was a standout on the Tech tennis team. Those are just two of many examples.

With Valentine's Day approaching, Sting Daily caught up with a few of the Yellow Jacket couples:


Hunter (Track) And Joanna (Track) Classen


The Classens.

SD:Tell us a little about how the two of you met and how your relationship evolved?
Joanna: We first met while bowling with our teammates at the start of freshman year. We got to know each other better in gen chem lab that first semester. We started dating in November of our freshman year. Got married July 14th, 2012! (after Hunter finished his 5th year on the track team).

SD:What was it like dating another student-athlete in college?
Joanna: It was great! We got to see each other at practice, in the (GT)AA dining hall, in study hall and in the training room. It was nice to have such similar schedules. I also liked always having a "seat buddy" for long bus rides to meets.

SD:What is your favorite memory of playing sports at Tech?
Joanna: The end of track season, when school was over. For a few weeks at the start of summer, we got to focus 100 percent on track. We both liked having a chance to be just an athlete for a little while.

SD:How did Hunter propose marriage?
Joanna: We were hiking up the stairs beside Amicalola Waterfall. He asked me when we stopped at an overlook. The first thing I did was text a picture of the ring to my mom!

SD:Are either of you still active in sports, and how so?
Joanna: We are both currently coaching: I'm a gymnastics coach, and Hunter is the track sprint coach at his old high school. Also, Hunter is playing on a local adult league soccer team. We are taking this year off from competing in track, but would like to return to it soon.

SD:How closely do the two of you follow Georgia Tech athletics today?
Joanna: We are looking forward to seeing the track team when they come to a meet down in Florida!

SD:If you have kids, would you mind listing their names and ages?
Joanna: No kids yet!


Ryan Smith (Tennis) And Sarah Schoeff (Swimming)


Ryan and Sarah Smith.

SD:Tell us a little about how the two of you met and how your relationship evolved?
Sarah: Ryan and I met in a place MANY athletes know too much about -- the training room. It was our freshman year: I was in for an ongoing issue with my shoulder and Ryan had a strained quad, I believe. But let me back up a bit. Upon finding out we were both going to be attending Tech in the fall, a mutual friend of ours insisted to me that I had to find and meet a tennis player named Ryan Smith. I kept that name in the back of my mind and when I heard Dr. (Angelo) Galante call Ryan's name for his appointment, it immediately jumped in my memory. I introduced myself to him then but we didn't go on our first date until that next October, about a year later. Sometime down the road in our relationship I learned that Ryan and his family had been referring to me as Sarah the stalker for the way we met! I don't know if I'll ever lose the nickname, but I'm definitely glad I introduced myself!

SD:What was it like dating another student-athlete in college?
Sarah: It was amazing dating a fellow student-athlete because we could relate to each other's daily struggles. We both had practice early in the morning and weights in the evenings so we understood each other's hectic schedules. For the most part, our sports were in different seasons so we were lucky to be able to attend each other's meets and matches as often as we could to cheer each other on!

SD:What is your favorite memory of playing sports at Tech?
Sarah: For me, it was definitely our senior meet. It was our last in-season home meet my senior year and it was so special having all our family and friends there to cheer us on and getting our chance to run through the team tunnel after being introduced! It also helped that we WON!

For Ryan, it was beating UGA his senior year. They hadn't won against UGA since their head coach was on the team 23 years prior. The match came down to the last point with Dean O'Brien clinching it for the Jackets!

SD:How did Ryan propose marriage?
Sarah: Ryan proposed at his house with both our families there to witness on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, 2011. Our families had gotten together to watch the GT/UGA football game and during halftime, Ryan got down on one knee and popped the question! I was so surprised; I don't think I heard half of what he said, but OF COURSE I said yes and we got married December 15, 2012!

SD:Are either of you still active in sports, and how so?
Sarah: We work out fairly regularly, but since graduation have yet to find a swim or tennis program to become a part of. Ryan has been giving me tennis lessons though and we both look forward to joining a tennis league in the near future!

SD:How closely do the two of you follow Georgia Tech athletics today?
Sarah: We will always be GT fans!! We recently moved to the Boston area so we mainly keep the connection alive by living vicariously through our family and friends who are able to support our former teams in person. We also take advantage of every opportunity we get to watch the Jackets on TV or listen to Wes "The Voice" Durham on the radio.

SD:If you have kids, would you mind listing their names and ages?
Sarah: No future Yellow Jackets for us yet!


Joseph Stegall (Cross Country/Track) And Sara Pardue (Cross Country/Track)


The Stegalls live in Nashville and have four children.

SD:Tell us a little about how the two of you met and how your relationship evolved?
Sara: We met as freshman (1997), being on the men's and women's cross country and track teams. Joseph is originally from Georgia, while I'm from Colorado. Track scholarships are what brought us both to Georgia Tech. I always thought Joe was hilarious, a great guy, and a very hard worker, but we were at very different places in our first couple of years at GT. It wasn't until I became a Christian during my third year at GT that I became more interested in him. We were really good friends... best friends, before we ever dated. My standards for dating became much higher after I started following Jesus Christ. Jesus was and is the rock of our relationship, and is why we are now more in love than ever.

SD:What was it like dating another student-athlete in college?
Sara: It was fun -- we got to spend a lot of time together... practice, weight-room, AA dining hall, class, traveling for competition. It was also great to be able to understood each other's worlds and have that common bond that we still have today. The coaches were pretty strict though, and even when we were engaged, they made sure we were more focused on our racing than on one another.

SD:What is your favorite memory of playing sports at Tech?
Both: Traveling around the country competing for GT.
Sara: The first time I became an All-American. I was in shock!
Joseph: Winning as an individual and as a team the 2000 UGA Cross Country Invitational.


The Stegall family.

SD:How did Joseph propose marriage?
Sara: He sang me a song that he had written for me with his guitar on top of a hill on his parent's farm about an hour north of Atlanta. The last line of the song was, "Will you marry me?". I said "of course!". (Thanksgiving our senior (5th) year).

SD:Are either of you still active in sports, and how so?
Sara: I ran the 800m at Tech, but as we've had more children, I enjoy the alone time I get during longer runs. I've run two 1/2 marathons and the Peachtree 10k. I'm currently training for my third 1/2 marathon after having our fourth child last March. Joe runs some races as well, but does more cross training than me. He recently started section hiking the Appalachian Trail and has a lifetime goal of completing it. He is a great coach to me. We love running together whenever we get the chance. Before I got pregnant with our fourth child, I was the ninth female finisher in the Country Music 1/2 Marathon and 33rd female at the Peachtree Road race (2011). I also was an ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) Certified Personal Trainer and did personal training very part time from our home before our last child was born.

SD:How closely do the two of you follow Georgia Tech athletics today?
Sara:We love watching GT football, especially, and some basketball. Joe is really the fanatic in the family. Growing up as a Georgia Tech fan, he knows everything about GT football history and all the players. His brother Sidney, who was also an athlete, has season tickets and we enjoy traveling down to catch a game from time to time.

SD:If you have kids, would you mind listing their names and ages?
Sara:FOUR GIRLS! Hayley-7, Claire-5, Keira-3, Eden-10 months

SD:Anything else you'd like to add?
Sara:We celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary this past August, and I can honestly say that we love each other more and more each year. Joe is the Lead Pastor of our growing church just south of Nashville, Tenn., called Providence Baptist Fellowship (www.insidepbf.com). We have four beautiful daughters. Our fourth was very unexpectedly born with Down Syndrome. Having a child with DS is something that nobody ever expects to experience. We both eat healthy, exercise and live healthy lifestyles, and you just expect to have healthy children. But when it comes to genetic disorders, you have no control over the situation. Although the diagnosis was devastating and shocking news at first, our Eden is a miracle, a gift, and has changed our lives for the better, forever! She had colon surgery at one week old, open heart surgery at three months old, and spent almost the first three months of her life in the hospital. She is one of the bravest, strongest, people we know, and is a source of great encouragement in our lives now. Eden will be one-year old at the end of March and has come SO far. She has four therapies (Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Developmental Therapy) every week. Though we've had various victories/titles/records in running, being parents to our four amazing daughters is the greatest achievement of our lives.


Previous Stories
Feb. 12 -- Scott & Christy Blair; Kenny & Bridget Thorne


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