#TGW: Love Battery
Current baseball pitcher Devin and former softball catcher Alysha Stanton now CLASSy Georgia Tech newlyweds
By Jon Cooper
The Good Word
Behind the happy ending of every love story there are the twists and elements that make it unique.
The story of Georgia Tech Softball great Alysha Stanton (formerly Alysha Rudnik), who graduated in May 2014, and current Baseball captain left-handed pitcher Devin Stanton, who graduated on Saturday, is no exception.
They possibly met as freshmen in 2011 and probably crossed paths as sophomores in 2012 -- neither is quite sure -- but circumstances, maybe destiny -- e.g., their respective roommates' dating -- brought them together as juniors in 2013. They did the rest, fostering their relationship and getting engaged in 2014, and marrying on January 10, 2015.
"It's been a blast. It's definitely been different," said Stanton, adding with a laugh, "She's definitely my better half. That's for sure."
So how did they make happen? How does anyone fulfill their destiny?
"We came in the same year, she was a softball player, I was a baseball player," said Stanton, the crafty lefty, a three-time ACC Academic Honor Roll, 2014 All-Academic Team and a 2015 Senior CLASS Award Watch List nominee. "We knew each other through that and then we started dating my junior year."
That's very Devin Stanton, direct to the point...and very "guy-like."
Alysha, the three-time Academic All-ACC, three-time ACC Academic Honor Roll, two-time First-Team All-ACC, 2014 CLASS Award Finalist, was more elaborative, crediting their respective team- and roommates.
"I didn't really see Devin a lot freshman and sophomore years but then our junior year, Hayley Downs and Dusty Isaacs dated," Alysha said. "So I would go over and hang out with [Devin] and them at their place. I was like, `Oh, wow. I never really talked to Devin, until now,' and really got to know him."
In getting to know each other Alysha and Devin discovered they had a lot in common. The most important commonality was their faith.
"The foundation of it was really kind of on our faith," she said. "I think that is what kind of made it a lot stronger than had we just started with something else."
"Oh. If it wasn't for that we definitely would not be together," he said.
Their first date was simply going to lunch after church.
"We didn't have a whole lot of time to go somewhere and it was going to be crowded on Sunday. Waffle House was like the only place we could go that was not busy and we could get there and get in and out in an hour," recalled Alysha, who admitted she doesn't remember much about that day's service, as her focus was primarily on Devin. "He was like, `Man, I felt so bad that that was the first place that I took you.' I was just, `I don't care. I'm just glad that we got to have lunch together.'"
Over time, they found more and more common ground. Both were dedicated to giving back to the community. That commitment led to Rudnik being nominated for the Senior CLASS (Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School) Award in 2014, awarded to athletes based on excellence in four key areas, community, classroom, character and competition. Stanton would get nominated the next year.
"It was really cool to receive [the nomination] myself. It's a perfect award that shows what he has done and what he's doing." Alysha said. "I saw that and I sent a text message to his mom and I said, `Hey, look at this!' She was like, `Yeah, he's just trying to be like his wife.'"
Devin was flattered by the nomination but didn't put such lofty expectations upon himself.
"She was a finalist for that. But it's an honor," he said. "It was a surprise to be honest with you. It's always an honor to have your name up there with all the great players across the country. You don't really try to do things for the awards. It's just the way you go about your business. This is a great school. You want to take advantage of the great academics here and work hard in the classroom and then do whatever you can to give back to the community because life is bigger than baseball."
Devin and Alysha also found common ground in FCA, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, regularly attending meetings and, in December, going to the Dominican Republic on a mission through FCA.
With both of them being athletes, they were able to supply each other a unique support system.
"I can say personally that Devin has helped me a lot," she said. "There were a lot of times when I would be frustrated, whether I felt like I wasn't leading well enough or my performance in the field was struggling and he could always find some way to encourage me and help me change my perspective so it wasn't so focused on my failures just bring my focus back to the team and what was most important. Honestly, I don't know if I have as big of a role in his performance."
She does and she has been a psychological port in what has been a physically stormy career -- he came back from Tommy John surgery, which cost him all of 2012 and most of 2013, before putting together a tremendous 2014 season. His 2015 has not been what he'd hoped.
"I'm going through some struggles a little bit right now with pitching and she's been so supportive," he said. "It's been different because I never really had to go to a woman like that. Usually I go to my dad or my teammates but having her there and really opening up to her, she's shared a lot of truth with me. It's definitely a blessing to have her."
Devin made clear how much having Alysha by his side mattered to him, proposing during a walk through Piedmont Park, one of their favorite places to walk. Alysha accepted.
From there it was easy, as they kicked off 2015 by exchanging their vows at Grace Midtown Church.
"My freshman year I was like, `I don't have the man yet but this is where I'm going to get married,'" Alysha recalled. "Once I found the man I knew where I was going to get married."
Fittingly, both wedding parties had nine in them, as Alysha had Downs, her sisters Christy and Bianca, her sister-in-law Stephanie (her brother's wife), her sister-in-law-to-be, Kelsie (Devin's sister), and four friends from high school. Devin had his brother, three lifelong friends, his brother-in-law-to-be, Josh, and Jackets teammates Isaacs, Mott Hyde, and A.J. Murray -- a party of eight and the pitcher made nine.
Settling into married life has suited them, as Devin has come to truly relish life's little things long as he's doing them with Alysha.
"I love sharing meals with her," he said. "There's honestly nothing better than coming home after a practice or after a game. She always waits up for me. Then just sharing a meal together, just hanging out. It's been awesome. We hadn't really been able to do that before we got married."
Now that Devin also has graduated, they can begin the journey that is the rest of their lives -- a journey upon which Alysha can't wait to embark, hand-in-hand with Devin.
"I guess the biggest thing is just going into the unknown with him," she said. "I really don't know what it's going to look like. He kind of knows what he wants to do but isn't exactly sure what route that's going to take. I think it's going to be exciting just both of us growing in that.
"Not knowing where we're going but knowing that I'm going to be with him and with all this uncertainty we're going to have a lot of growing together," she added. "That's what I'm most excited about. Learning more about who he is and about myself through it all."