The Mount wasn't just a place of education; it was the invisible thread that wove their paths together.

couple standing by barn

The halls of Mount St. Joseph University echoed with cheers for the football team, but for Rachael, a sophomore Athletic Training (AT) student, her heart pounded for a different reason. Assigned to the football team for her AT clinical rotations, fate placed her right in the path of Nathan, a charismatic senior athlete and Sport Management student. Stolen glances across the training room and playful banter masked a budding attraction, but Rachael was already involved, and relationships with athletes for the sport they were covering was not encouraged.

“I would have never met Nathan had it been for football and athletic training clinical rotations,” Rachael reminisces. “As fate would I have it, I was assigned to the offense and specifically offensive line. As their student athletic trainer, I got to know the lineman pretty well as we spent most hours together during summer camp as well as the entire fall season.”

Despite the initial spark, their paths diverged. Nathan graduated and pursued a master’s degree in education for a career in coaching, while Rachael continued her studies at the Mount. Months of radio silence stretched before a text from Rachael, grappling with a breakup and the uncertainties of post-grad life, rekindled their connection. Nathan, initially skeptical, invited her to a team event. Hesitantly, Rachael showed up, and over the next few months, their friendship blossomed. Shared experiences, late-night conversations, and easy laughter solidified their bond.

“I remember both being at a college party and leaving at about the same time,” recalls Nathan. “I don’t even remember what it was about, but I remember a quick greeting turned into an hour long conversation while just standing outside our cars on some random street in Delhi before we finally went our separate ways. We were just friends. But the conversation was easy and interesting. It was different.”

Their MSJ experiences, though limited due to their different timelines, were nonetheless instrumental. The shared space of the athletic complex became a stage for stolen moments – a playful comment misinterpreted as a jerk move, a chance encounter at a college party leading to an hour-long conversation, and a breakfast in the dining hall that transcended the ordinary. The Mount wasn't just a place of education; it was the invisible thread that wove their paths together.

Their bond went beyond the superficial. Rachael, a determined farm girl with a clear vision, found support and honesty in Nathan, an inner-city boy navigating life. They challenged each other, celebrated victories, and weathered challenges together. Rachael's pre-interview jitters for her first job were calmed by Nathan's pep talk and practice questions, and his own coaching struggles were eased by Rachael's unwavering support during his volunteer stint.

“We honestly just grew as friends at the Mount and it started with small interactions,” says Nathan. “We would have days of running chats on texts about nothing. How classes were going, athletic training rotations—heck, even relationship advice. It’s such a difficult time in your life to find someone that you truly trust to give you a clear, no nonsense advice on almost any situations and I think it was pretty clear early on neither of us were going to sugar coat anything. We could laugh at each other, make fun of each other, but also tell each other hard truths.”

Nathan vividly remembers a time in their lives when life was getting serious, having a conversation discussing that if the best future for each other didn’t involve being in each other’s lives anymore, then that was okay because they wanted what was best for each other.

“That’s actually what led to us being away from each other for that time period,” he says. “But I guess it turns out if you love someone enough to let them go, sometimes they come back to you.”

On Christmas Eve of 2014, with help from his best friend, Nathan feigned a delay to a family event in order for the couple to stop at Devou Overlook in Covington, KY overlooking Cincinnati’s skyline, where he would give Rachael her Christmas gift.

When she opened it she found a picture frame featuring the quote “It’s not where you go, or what you do… it’s who’s is beside you that counts.” In the picture frame was a collage of the couple’s favorite moments together, surrounding a photo of an engagement ring. As Rachael realized what she was looking at, she looked away from the frame to find Nathan on one knee, holding the ring from the photo.

Ten months after a romantic proposal overlooking the Cincinnati skyline, the couple said ‘I do’ in a beautiful fall ceremony. Now, a family of three with their son Brooks and their furry companions Leo and Remi, Rachael works as a surgery scheduler/athletic trainer for Beacon Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. Nathan is a Business Teacher, and assists in administration at Newport Central Catholic High School.

Rachael and Nathan both gratefully reflect on the significance of the Mount. It wasn't just their alma mater; it was the place where they found an enduring friendship that became the foundation of their happily ever after. Every time they drive by the Mount, they remember the laughter, the support, and the serendipitous twist of fate that brought them together. The Mount wasn't just a place; it was where their love story began.