Love stories from Cougs far and wide
We asked. You answered.
Washington State Magazine wanted to hear from couples who had met at Washington State University. Turns out WSU is quite the prolific matchmaker.
Here are some stories of how Coug couples met.
Want to add yours? Email your anecdote along with then-and-now photos to associate editor Adriana Janovich at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meantime, enjoy these meet-cutes.
Erin Baily (’92 Anthro.) and Ommid Zarafshan (’92 Mech. Eng.) met at a housewarming party. He and his roommates had just moved into Columbia YY116.
Ten months later, they eloped.
“We waited until our a.m. classes were over,” Erin says. “I think Ommid had a test in his thermal dynamics class he couldn’t miss.”
Then they drove to Idaho, where there’s no three-day waiting period after applying for a marriage license like there is in Washington. They had to borrow a car for the occasion.
“We were so poor we didn’t even have a camera to take a photo,” Erin says, noting, “I don’t have any photos of (the wedding day) March 30, 1989.” She does have a photo of the couple from July 1989, though, taken down at Wawawai Landing.
The couple asked several friends to be witnesses at the courthouse. But, Erin says, “Everyone thought we were just joking around and not serious. They weren’t going to cut class for a joke.” So the court clerk witnessed their wedding.
Afterward, they drove back to Pullman, met some friends at the CUB, and showed them their marriage license to prove they were actually married. “They felt bad,” Erin says.
That night with those friends, they had a big barbecue to celebrate.
Today, the Zarafshans have two adult children. This March, they celebrate their 32nd anniversary.
Chrissy Pettepiece (’96 Ed.) and Carl Christoferson (’96 Busi.) met at a Phi Tau/Kappa Delta exchange on pledge night in August 1992.
He started dating one of her pledge sisters.
“They didn’t last long,” says Chrissy, who had become “great friends” with him by then.
“When I eventually needed a date for a Valentine’s dance, I asked him because I knew we’d have a great time together without the awkwardness of it being a real date,” she says. “We were both surprised that, by the end of the night, we knew there was more to our friendship.”
A week later, they made it official, becoming boyfriend and girlfriend.
Senior year—“in the sweetest ceremony ever,” Chrissy says—Carl gave her his fraternity pin. The entire fraternity showed up and serenaded her.
After graduation in May 1996, the couple worked together in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for a summer, then traveled through Europe, and eventually married in September 1998. They lived in California for the first 10 years of marriage and eventually landed in Bend, Oregon.
They have two boys, ages 14 and 18. The oldest is a freshman at WSU.
“Our four years at WSU were full of fun, challenges, and love,” Chrissy says. “We feel lucky to have found each other there.”
He was editor-in-chief. She was interviewing for a position as a reporter. It was spring 1999. She was a freshman. He had one more semester to finish before graduating in fall.
Candace Baltz (’02 Comm.) and Matt Smylie (’99 Comm.) met in the newsroom at The Daily Evergreen. He was the boss. She was a cub reporter. They “didn’t talk much,” she says. “I had the absolute biggest school-girl crush on him. I could not put together a coherent sentence when he was around. I just giggled all the time. He was so cool and so smart and older, too.”
The fact that he was editor-in-chief was “super-impressive,” partly because, Candace says, “I wanted his job.”
She wrote a lot of breaking news and obituaries at first. Student government and Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture became her beats. “I hung around the newsroom a lot just hoping to hear something on the scanner so I could go cover it,” she says. “I was very eager to get out and do a story.”
But she was too tongue-tied to talk to Matt, who soon graduated and landed his first full-time journalism job on the Kitsap Peninsula—where Candace is from. One of his reporting assignments took him to her childhood home in Tracyton, where her parents were involved with salmon conservation. Every year for many years, they released thousands of coho salmon eggs into a creek, fourth-graders would participate as a science field trip, and local media would cover it.
“I ended up at the front door of Candace’s parents’ house completely coincidently,” Matt says. “I interviewed them for a story, and that ended up getting back to Candace.”
She was in the Evergreen newsroom when her mom called the landline. At the same time, Matt phoned Marcus Michelson (’02 Comm.) another member of the newsroom, who answered the call on his circa 2000 “brick of a cell phone.” That friend was also in the Evergreen newsroom. “I remember it so clearly because I wanted to die,” Candace says. “It was so embarrassing. I was mortified. But it also gave me an excuse to reach out to Matt.”
She was “way too nervous to call him,” so she asked their mutual Evergreen friend for Matt’s ICQ handle and sent him an instant message. Shortly after that, they agreed to go on a date. Candace drove from Pullman to the peninsula, and Matt picked her up at her parents’ place. They went to dinner at Spiro’s Pizza and Pasta in Silverdale, watched her younger sister perform in a community theater production of Cinderella, watched a movie from Blockbuster, and “had a real nice time.”
Then he moved to Hawaii. He had applied at a newspaper on Kauai and, shortly after their first date, he got the job. “He was gone in like a week,” says Candace, who was about to begin her term as Evergreen editor-in-chief.
She had worked all summer between her sophomore and junior years, saved money, and decided she was going to visit. She bought plane tickets at the travel agency in the Bookie but didn’t tell Matt. “I thought it might freak him out,” she says. “We continued talking every day and, at some point—in like October—he sent me flowers.”
Their second date was Thanksgiving weekend on Kauai.
On their third date—New Year’s Eve on Kauai—he gave her a ring, “not an engagement ring,” she says, “but a promise ring.”
Not long later, he landed a new newspaper job in Ketchum, Idaho—about nine and a half hours nonstop from Pullman. He did the drive almost every other weekend to see her, taking Friday off and arriving right around the time she was getting off the air. By then, she was working at Northwest Public Radio.
“Matt would show up to Murrow and knock and wait for me outside the radio door,” Candace says. “We’d hang out Saturday. My next shift was Sunday afternoon, and that’s when Matt had to hit the road. Our dates were bookended by my shifts.”
They did “whatever college students do. We watched a lot of TV and movies, talked, ate a lot of really bad food. We were just happy to be together because we spent so much of our time apart.”
Matt proposed in February of her senior year. When Candace went to visit him during spring break they almost eloped, going as far as filling out the paperwork. Instead, they planned a wedding in the CUB ballroom for May 8, 2002, the Wednesday before she graduated. The reception was catered by WSU Hospitality students. A faculty jazz and swing back provided the music. Evergreen photographer Rajah Bose (’02 Busi.) did the photos, shooting the couple in the Evergreen newsroom, at Cable 8, and other spots around campus.
“It was a great way to celebrate both of our lives in Pullman and at WSU up to that point, and all the people around us that had played roles in our lives,” Matt says.
Candace’s first job out of college was as a reporter with the CBS affiliate in Twin Falls, Idaho. Soon, Matt left reporting to work in advertising at the local newspaper, then in marketing for a local real estate firm. In 2004, they had a son. Logan Murrow Smylie, now 16, was named for the building where his parents met.
Ten years after Candance graduated, her career came full circle. She returned to WSU to serve as director of student media. For three years, she advised the Evergreen staff and worked in the same place where she and Matt met. “It was weird and amazing,” she says. “Logan got to come into the newsroom where his mom and dad met and see the building that has his name on it. It was just an incredible experience.”
After her next stint at Oregon State University, she’s now planning to launch a nonprofit for journalism education based in Corvallis, Oregon, where they’ve lived since 2015. Matt has been working remotely since 2008 for the Virginia-based information technology and management consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, doing digital and strategic communications.
They both fondly recall their time in Pullman, at Murrow, and the Evergreen. “The Evergreen is so much more to us than a job,” Candace says. “It’s such a deep part of who we are. We think of Pullman as home even though it’s where we went to school. Pullman is home 100 percent.”
Amy Finley (’00 Comm.) and Jason Bruce (’01 Comm.) met in Murrow Studio A in 1999. Her emphasis was broadcast news. His was broadcast production and management.
She had transferred from community college and took the beginning production class “thinking it would be a good idea to understand what it takes to put on a newscast.”
She found that understanding as well as a “flirtatious friendship” that began in the studio and grew in the Murrow editing suites, Martin Stadium, Valhalla Bar and Grill, and in the communities of Chief Joseph Village and Boulder Creek Apartments.
“Jason was the kindest, funniest, and most generous person I’d met,” Amy says. “I hadn’t dated anyone seriously for at least a year. He hadn’t dated since high school; he was focused on working ahead in classes and doing his best to join the ranks of those running Cable 8.”
They officially started dating February 12, 2000. But the evening got off to a rocky start. He was late. She was upset. But he had flowers. So she gave him a hug and the benefit of the doubt.
In the car, though, he asked where she wanted to go. “I don’t know,” she sighed, frustrated that he didn’t have something planned after asking her out.
He said he needed to stop at the studio to pick up some equipment. When they got there, he asked her to help carry it. She was dressed up, wearing heels, and annoyed.
She was still grumbling to herself as he unlocked the door at Murrow, where she walked into a candlelight dinner. Their friend—Jason’s “partner in crime” Brian Temple (’00 Comm.), now the creative director at the Association of Washington Business in Olympia—had picked up take-out from Basilio’s Italian Café “and had it on a beautiful table with my favorite: frosted animal cookies,” Amy recalls. “We talked and laughed, and I sat through dinner wondering how I could ever deserve this. I was taken by his romantic planning and thoughtfulness. From that point on, we were nearly inseparable.”
They enjoyed countless breakfasts at Old European, lots of late-night pizza, and hanging out with mutual friends from Murrow.
Today, Jason is a freelance director and technical director for the Seattle Sounders and the Seattle Mariners as well as a video production specialist at SanMar in Issaquah. Amy is a communications manager at a Bellevue school. They have three kids and live in Snoqualmie.
“We are so thankful for the sense of community in the Murrow building, especially in broadcasting,” Amy says. “We shared so many laughs and learned so much about ourselves and each other. Isn’t that what the college dream is about? Thank you, WSU, and to our amazing teachers and friends!”
They met in Psychology 230, or Human Sexuality, sometimes dubbed “Dirty 230” by students.
“He thought it was great. I wanted to die of embarrassment half the time,” says Kelsey Knack (’16 Hum. Dev.)
She and Kohl Kaelin (’15 Crim. Just.) sat next to each other and exchanged numbers for sharing “notes and such.”
One day he randomly texted her and, she says, “we just never stopped. He eventually asked me on our first date at the theater in Pullman, and after that we began dating.”
They married in October 2017, and their wedding parties and reception were filled with fellow Cougs “who were all part of our story.”
Says Kelsey, “WSU wasn’t just a place on the map for us. It was our first taste of being adults, our first time out in the world and, ultimately, our first time noticing one another in a different light. Kohl and I went to high school with one another, and he was a year older. We knew of one another, but that was the extent.”
A few years later they were “two Cougs in love” who knew “our story was going to continue on beyond the ‘promise land.’ We’ve now been together for eight years and married going on four. We owe it all to our foundation in Pullman.”
And they acknowledged that in their wedding vows, which ended with “We always find our way back home.”
Jessica Stafford (’03 Ed.) was driving in Austin, Texas, in June 2007 when she noticed the SUV in front of her had a WSU trailer hitch.
Curious, she pulled up next to it, then drove on past it.
“The SUV driver noticed my WSU sticker on the back of my car,” she says. “We waved at each other and continued to the next red light.”
At the light, they both rolled down their windows, and she asked, “You went to WSU?”
Joel Harper (’03 Psych.) said yes, noting his family still lived in Pullman.
“I froze because I was born in Pullman and lived there until 8th grade,” Jessica says. “I shared that I had grown up there, too, and asked him his name.”
She’d never heard of him. He hadn’t heard of her, either.
The light changed and, Jessica says, “we drove away.”
But Joel repeated her name in his head until he got home and could write it down on a napkin. When she got home, she searched for him on MySpace. It turned out they had lots of mutual friends.
“We grew up in the same town, had numerous mutual childhood memories, and both attended WSU around the same time. But we had never met until that day in Austin,” Jessica says. “We consider ourselves lucky to have found someone who loves Pullman and Austin equally.”
The Harpers live in Leander, Texas. They’ve been married nearly 10 years and have two children.
Kyle A. Anderson (’13 Chem. Eng.) and Jenny A. Kadinger (’12 Chem. Eng.) both arrived in Pullman as freshmen in fall 2008. “Like many freshmen, we were bright-eyed and excited for college but also a little apprehensive about meeting new people. So, separately, we both reached out to people we knew from our pre-WSU lives,” Jenny says.
Kyle reached out to acquaintances from high school. Jenny contacted close friends she had known in elementary and middle school but had gone to a different high school than she did. Turns out, his friends were her friends.
“And that’s where it all began,” says Jenny, who admits that they “didn’t even really notice each other the first time we met.”
They soon figured out that among their group of pre-WSU connections, they were the only two who lived on the northside of campus. In fact, they were neighbors.
“Kyle was in Coman, and I was in Regents,” says Jenny, who worked at the WSU Dining Services Northside Café—one of the spots they would run into each other. “We exchanged phone numbers and found ourselves hanging out or walking together about campus often—just as friends, of course.”
They discovered that, despite having never met before WSU, they had grown up less than a mile apart in the Tri-Cities. “We practically grew up as neighbors before becoming neighbors in Pullman,” Jenny says. “I had attended private schools up until choosing to be a Coug, otherwise we might have known of one another in high school.”
The summer after their freshman year, they did something they had never done before. They hung out together in their hometown.
“From there, we enjoyed the rest of our years at WSU hand-in-hand,” Jenny says. “I even intrigued Kyle enough about my coursework that he changed his major to match. We attended football games, basketball games, and concerts on campus; shared study sessions and food runs to Cougar Country; and sang the fight song together more times than I can count.
“We’ve been together and die-hard Cougs since we started dating in the summer of 2009. We visit Pullman at least once a year and, more than 11 years later, we’re still not sick of each other or saying ‘Go Cougs!’
“After years of growing up in the same town, less than a mile apart, and never meeting, WSU seized the perfect life-timing and introduced us to our forever teammate and crimson-and-gray blooded soulmate. We love WSU and are happy to share that and our love every day.”
Her best friend randomly wrote her phone number on his friend’s whiteboard.
Kristine “Krisy” Conklin (’00 Busi.) wasn’t there when she did it. She’d been accepted to WSU for fall 1996, but decided to defer.
Cheryl Anderson (x’00) and Stacee Kerr (’00 Ed., ’00 Teach. Cert.) were freshmen when they spontaneously went around Gannon-Goldsworthy Hall, writing Cheryl’s phone number on all of the whiteboards on the men’s floors.
“We would never do that now,” Krisy says. “We warn our kids about cell phone safety and giving out personal information to strangers.”
Ryan Flynn (’00 Civ. Eng.) dialed the number. He was, Krisy says, the only one. Ultimately, his call led to two marriages and six children.
When he went to meet Cheryl and Stacee, he brought along Tyson Henry (’00 Poli. Sci., ’06 Chem. Eng.). He and Tyson had gone to high school together.
When Krisy came to visit Cheryl on campus, she met Tyson, too. Cheryl had actually gone on a date with him first.
By then, they were part of a big friend group. “When I would come visit we would all hang out,” says Krisy, who enjoyed hanging out so much that she decided to enroll for spring 1997. She moved to Pullman in January, and she and Tyson “became fast friends.”
Their friendship phase didn’t last long. “It was like two weeks,” Krisy admits. At a party, a friend asked if she thought Tyson was cute.
“He had the best smile,” Krisy says. “I remember that very quickly attracted me to him. He was an athlete, but he also played the viola and cello. He had a dry, unfiltered sense of humor, and I found that to be hysterical. It was refreshing.”
Their first date was to see Scream at the Cordova Theatre in downtown Pullman. “I hated it,” she says—of the movie, not Tyson. “We’ve been together ever since. And WSU was the foundation for all of it.”
For them, “all of it” includes four children, more than 20 years of marriage, and three WSU degrees between them.
In college, they went to football games and down to the Dunes on the Snake River. Ryan and Stacee started dating, too. And Thursdays, the whole group gathered for TV night.
Weekends, Tyson worked at Pizza Perfection. “We would pool our resources so we could get Tyson to come deliver pizzas so I could see him,” Krisy says. “We had the best time. We made friendships that are deep. We took care of each other. We all ate together. Any given point all of us were using everyone’s dining cards just to make it work.”
In fall 1999, at the beginning of senior year, Krisy and Tyson “were struggling with what happens next,” she says. “We were at a crossroads. He was getting a degree in political science and had already decided to stay on for a degree in chemical engineering. And I was not going to stay in Pullman, because I was graduating, unless there was some kind of commitment.”
He proposed in November along the Snake River, and they married July 29, 2000. Ryan and Stacee were in their wedding. And Krisy and Tyson later were in theirs.
Ryan and Stacee moved to the west side, had two daughters, and stayed in touch.
Krisy and Tyson bought “a little farmhouse on the Palouse.” He worked at Pullman Building Supply and went to school. She worked the Bon Marché, then Macy’s, in Moscow’s Palouse Mall. Their first daughter was born in 2002. Their second daughter was born in 2005. “We worked really, really hard just to stay afloat,” Krisy says. “We were 21 and 22 when we got married. In five years, we went from being 18 and just meeting to being young parents. We went from being kids in Pullman to raising kids in Pullman. We really grew up together.”
After Tyson earned his second bachelor’s degree from WSU, the family moved to Longview, then Port Angeles. Today, he works at the mill in Cosmopolis, and the Henrys live in Shelton, where Krisy has family. She’s a real-estate broker, in business with her dad and brother.
Stacee is a teacher in Tacoma, where Ryan was an engineer until his death from cancer in April 2020.
“I’m grateful for all of our experiences together in Pullman,” Krisy says. “It felt like a really special time and a really special place. It’s a kind of utopia when you get involved and find your people, your friends for life.”
John Timberlake (’10 Busi. Admin.) and Melissa Stowe (’10 App., Merch. & Text.) met in the fall of their senior year in 2009.
Her sister, Ashley Stowe (’10 Busi.), was a member of the Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity and invited her to tag along to a DSP tailgate before a football game.
When she arrived, she saw a friend from high school and he introduced her to his friend. “John struck me as such a kind, charismatic guy, and there were immediate sparks between us,” Melissa says. “We ditched the game and went over to Valhalla for drinks.”
John worked three jobs to put himself through school so, Melissa says, “we had to sneak dates in where we could.”
He was a DJ at ZZU Club and Grub and also did side gigs. “One of the first times we hung out, he asked me to help him load up a van full of speakers after an event at the Gladish Community & Cultural Center,” Melissa says. “He later told me that’s when he knew I was the one for him.
Within a few months, they were dating. Soon, they graduated and moved to Seattle to start our careers. They married in an intimate wedding on the beach at the Stowe family cabin on Lopez Island on June 27, 2015, sharing the same anniversary as her grandparents, Duane and Arleen Stowe, who met at WSC more than 60 years earlier.
“Almost our entire wedding party graduated from WSU with us,and were there in the early days of our relationship for Taco Tuesdays at the ZZU, Wing Wednesdays at Valhalla, and snowy football games in Pullman,” Melissa says. “We now have two young children and are rooting for them to become fourth-generation Cougs!”
He played football. She was a member of the cheer squad for two years and the dance team for two years. They met at an exchange between their houses: Alpha Gamma Rho and Pi Beta Phi.
James Cory Conklin (’06 Comm.) and Moira Ryan (’06 Anthro.) soon realized they had a lot in common. But it wasn’t until 2007—after graduation, moves to Seattle, and years of friendship—that they finally decided to date. They got engaged in 2009.
Today, they are married and living in Walla Walla with their two children—a boy and a girl—and one on the way.
Mark Goff (’15 Pharm.) and Alyssa Del Palacio (’15 Pharm.) met in 2011 when they were both first-year pharmacy students.
They helped each other get through the first two years on the Pullman campus and final two years on the Spokane campus. They were both members of the Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity as well as other pharmacy associations.
He proposed a few days before graduation while taking graduation photos on the Pullman campus.
Her late father had graduated from the WSU College of School under the tutelage of the late Keith Campbell. Campbell had also interviewed Mark for pharmacy school and signed off on allowing him to date Alyssa.
Mark and Alyssa are now married and have an infant son.
Jeff Siemers (’01 Kinesio.) and Jeannette Murr (’98 Kinesio) met while she was working with the WSU women’s volleyball team and he was a resident firefighter in the WSU Fire Services program.
WSU Fire Services typically provides emergency medical services at WSU athletic events. And, in her job as a certified athletic trainer, Jeannette coordinated medical care for student-athletes.
Before the first home match in fall 2001, she decided to have a conversation with the two student emergency medical technicians so they knew what they should do in the event a student-athlete was injured and went down on the court. Basically, Jeannette says, “I didn’t need them unless I signaled for them.”
Jeff was one of them. From that point on, he signed up to work every women’s volleyball game he could. And she made sure to chat with him before the start of each game “to make sure they knew what to do.”
She was on staff and a recent grad. He was a student, set to graduate that December. They didn’t see each other outside of work. And, after graduation, he moved home to Kirkland.
Unbeknownst to her, they had a mutual friend. New Year’s Eve 2001, she called Jeannette and told her Jeff had been asking about her.
Not long later, Jeannette randomly ran into Jeff at the post office. He had returned to WSU Fire Services to cover for an officer on leave. She had just started a six-month bible study that included no dating through July. She said hi, but that was about it. It was the same thing in May when she bumped into him again in a professional setting.
Mid-July, she and their mutual friend were out on the town in Pullman when they bumped into Jeff. This time, they exchanged phone numbers. He called the next day.
After that, they talked on the phone daily, sometimes as long as four hours. He asked her to go to dinner and a movie on July 31, the day her no-dating policy expired.
“The rest is, as they say, history,” Jeannette says. “We’ve been together 18 years and married 17 years.”
The Siemers married at Lawson Gardens in Pullman on July 26, 2003, with the WSU Fight Song as their recessional. Their reception was at Gladish Community Center.
Jeff is now a lieutenant with the City of Redmond Fire Department, and Jeannette is an assistant high-school principal in Snohomish County.
“We love finding our way back home for football in the fall,” says Jeannette, noting the couple has a 14-year-old son, Kaeden, and 11-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, “who both love the Cougs, too!”
Jason Jones (’05 Busi.) and Ashley Hatch (’05 Soc. Sci.) met during their freshman year and dated throughout their time at WSU, where they were both in the U.S. Army ROTC program. They married in the CUB Ballroom in May 2005.
“At the time, I worked at the WSU Fire Department and our wedding getaway vehicle was WSU fire engine No. 51,” says Jason, now a U.S. Army physician assistant in Texas. Ashley is a U.S. Army civilian employee. “We also had the WSU Fight Song as our wedding reception exit, and Ashley threw her bouquet off the fire engine.”
The couple have since “traveled the globe rooting for the Cougs. We’ve even waved the flag on ESPN’s College GameDay, including Ol’ Crimson’s 200th episode at SMU Fort Worth” in 2017.
Brandon Evans (’08 Comm.) and Meggan Siira (’09 Ed.) met while training to be Alive orientation counselors in spring 2006. They were friends by summer. But both dating other people.
Over the next two years, their paths kept crossing and, in summer 2008, they both found themselves working for the university again. He was living in Stephenson North. She was living in Rogers, or, he says, “just a few steps up the hill.”
It was more than convenience that brought them together, though.
“A few weeks into the summer we went on date that we both talk about to this day, spending almost the entire day running around town talking, laughing and falling head over heels for each other under the warmth of the Palouse sun,” Brandon says. “It was a whirlwind summer, and I found myself walking up that small hill every day—those 50-ish steps—thinking about how one day I was going to marry that woman. I can’t think of much time that wonderful summer in 2008 when we weren’t together laughing and smiling.”
He had graduated in May, and his job was ending in August. He was moving to Arizona, where his family was. Meggan had just one more semester in Pullman before she started student-teaching in her hometown. “We quickly realized we were not cut for a long-distance relationship, but we weren’t sure what to do about it,” Brandon says.
America was in the midst of the Great Recession, and that fall the job market was tough. Brandon took a minimum-wage job at a department store and started saving money. “I hatched a plan to use every dime I had saved to get Meggan out to visit me in Arizona. Unfortunately, I miscalculated the dates of the start of Thanksgiving break and booked her flight the wrong weekend. It was more expensive to pay the change fees than to book a few one-way tickets and have her visit twice.”
The first trip, he popped the question. The second trip, they celebrated, spending Thanksgiving with his family.
When she finished her last semester, he joined her in Vancouver, where they’ve stayed.
“Our love wasn’t immediate, but it was worth the wait,” Brandon says. “After dating only a few months we were engaged and now just passed our ten-year anniversary of marriage. Our passion for the university where we met is as strong as it was when we were teaching incoming students the words to the fight song over and over. Now we’re raising two future Cougars of our own—Nora and Cole—with that same WSU spirit.”
Chris Bowen (’09 Busi.) moved off campus after the end of the 1995-1996 academic year—his freshman year. Late that summer, Lisa Evans (’97 Crim. Just., ’98 Socio.) moved in with his roommate’s girlfriend in the apartment downstairs.
“Because my roommate’s girlfriend would (obviously) come to our apartment, and I didn’t want to be the third wheel, Lisa and I spent a lot of time together, just as friends. Movies, dinner, drinks, just as friends. Nothing more, nothing less. That’s all it was meant to be, and very good friends we were,” says Chris, who was a sophomore when Lisa was a senior. “We spent time together, confided in each other, and shared both highs and lows with each other.”
They were both members of the WSU bowling team and spent a lot of time together traveling the country for tournaments. They also had a large group of mutual friends and, Chris says, “Most of our time was spent as a large group together. No couples, no one dating, really just a big group of friends enjoying Pullman—sometimes too much—to the fullest.”
She met his family. He met hers. They both dated other people. “The timing,” Chris says, “just wasn’t ever right.”
As her graduation neared, she had “a fairly serious boyfriend” and was planning on moving back home to Spokane. Then the phone rang. And the conversation went something like this.
Lisa: I have to tell you how much you mean to me. I mean, really mean to me.
Chris: Well, I feel the same. I’m glad we’ve been such good friends for all this time.
Lisa: No, I don’t think you understand what I’m saying. You really mean a lot to me. And I don’t know if I want to risk our friendship to pursue anything further. I wouldn’t ever want to lose you as a friend.
Chris: I wouldn’t either.
Lisa: So what should we do about this?
They decided at a party, in what Chris describes as “true Pullman fashion,” to throw caution to the wind. “Let’s just say I think things worked out for the best.”
More than twenty years later, Lisa is an assistant principal and Chris works in finance at a car dealership. They live in Spokane with their four children, ages 13, 10, 7, and 5.
“Through good times and bad, happy times and sad, Lisa is still very much my best friend,” Chris says. “I’m glad we stayed friends for all these years, not knowing how it would all work out after we weren’t sure about risking our relationship as friends for anything further.”
She was a freshman. He was a junior and a football player. They met at a party in early October 2013 and, after that, says Lilie Anna Long (’17 Ed.), “I started constantly running into him on my way to class by the practice field.”
She and Rickey Galvin (’14 Hum.) “became best friends that entire school year and officially started dating in June 2014.”
He graduated in December 2014 and moved back home to California. “It wasn’t easy, but we decided to do long distance,” Lilie says. “We managed to visit one another at least once a month and rotated who flew where.”
Just before she turned 21 in June of 2016, he decided to surprise her, driving up to Washington with the news that he was moving to Seattle. “We would still be doing distance my last year of college, but it was way closer than Cali.,” she says.
That winter break, the couple celebrated his birthday with lunch and some shopping. And, Lilie says, “Later that evening, I took him on the Ferris wheel in Seattle and once we stopped at the top, he proposed!”
They celebrated their engagement by going out to dinner that night.
She graduated that May and, at the end of the year, the couple moved to Puyallup. They married September 14, 2019.
“Fast forward to now,” Lilie says. “We have known each other for seven-and-a-half years, been together for almost seven years, married nearly a year and a half, and have a three-year-old and a five-month-old.”
It started with a smoothie.
Mike Hollenberg (’94 Biol.) bought one for Monica Fish (’95 Comm.) in August 1992 at Xenon—“the Ferrari of night clubs”—in Moscow, Idaho.
Monica had pledged Alpha Delta Pi that night, and a sorority sister suggested that Mike buy her a drink: a one-dollar smoothie.
They ended up dancing and talking all night under the black light on the club’s main floor. (Upstairs was 20-and-over.)
“Mike had to memorize my dorm phone number as neither of us had a pen and cell phones were barely on the horizon,” Monica remembers.
They went out the next weekend. Their first official date: dinner (Gambino’s in Moscow) and a movie (Sleepless in Seattle).
They married in 1997 and have three children. Their oldest, Ben, is a pre-med sophomore at WSU, studying microbiology.
Joshua Goss (’10 Gen. Studies, Soc. Sci.) and Lauren Bosshardt (’08 Int. Des.) met in a van in 2005.
It was the last field trip for their environmental science class lab, and they were traveling through Moscow, Idaho, when he mentioned part of the town looked a lot like Tacoma.
She said it didn’t.
She also said she was from Bremerton.
He’s from Port Orchard.
Their class was planting trees at Idler’s Rest Nature Preserve and, during the outing, Joshua says, “we both had fun getting to know each other.”
After returning to campus, he says, “I built up enough courage to get her contact information—and the rest is history.”
They married in 2007, finished school a year later, and moved back to Kitsap County, where she’s an architectural designer at her own company and he volunteers with South Kitsap Fire and Rescue and works in crisis intervention at a faith-based youth ministry.
He was on cheer team. She was on the dance team.
Stephen Hannan (x’14) and Chelsey Stout (’14 Comm.) met in 2011 when they were both part of the WSU Spirit Squad.
“At the time, we were just really good friends and only saw each other during practices or events,” Chelsey says.
After graduation, they became a lot closer as friends and eventually started dating.
Their 2019 wedding was “a big spirit squad reunion with all of our closest friends,” Chelsey says. “We had cheer and dance friends, as well as coaches and a few Butches. It was awesome to have the family back together again and to experience it with my husband. Pullman and WSU will always have a special place in our hearts because it brought us together. It will always be our home away from home, and we can’t wait to go back.”
Stephanie Matthews (’12 Zool.) and Derek Held (’19 Busi Admin.) met in 2010 while auditioning for Inspecting Carol at the Pullman Civic Theatre.
They both made the cut. She played MJ. He was Phil. And, after the cast party, they officially became a
Derek had started at WSU in 2009 in computer science, then took a break from classes, going back later to study business administration. Meantime, they got engaged in Pullman.
The Helds married at the Lewis Alumni Centre on Pi Day 2015.
Jeremy Wittenhagen (’09 Busi., ’10 MBA) and Jamie Ellis (’10 Biol.) met through mutual friends around Halloween 2007 and have been together ever since. The Salem, Oregon-based couple celebrated their five-year wedding anniversary Oct. 3, 2020. “We enjoyed three years together on campus and love to go to the nearest game here in Oregon and sneak away to Pullman whenever we can,” Jamie says. “WSU is our heart and home, and brought us together.”
They met in the Stephenson Dining Hall in fall 1984. Diane Jonkheer (’89 Psych.) and Phil Ohl (’87 Materials Sci. and Eng., ’92 MS Eng. Mgmt.) started dating the following spring and were married just over two years later in summer 1987.
Both of their daughters—Jamie Ohl Turner (’16 Busi. Admin.) and Tate Ohl (’18 Busi. and Hist.) are Cougs. So is their son-in-law Chris Turner (’13 Elect. Eng.)
Since retiring in 2016, the Ohls have been traveling the world as Open Door Travelers, doing freelance writing and contract resort property inspections—and waving the WSU Cougar-head flag wherever they go.
“Through it all, WSU has been a part of our lives as Platinum Life Members of the WSU Alumni Association, from football family season tickets with two little girls, to a box suite with other Cougar parents, to waving the flag all over the world,” Phil says. In fact, “We believe we hold the distinction of being the only couple in Cougar Nation to have not only visited, but proudly waved the flag on all seven continents.”
Adam Roberts (x’08) and Kristina Hill (’07 Elem. Ed.) met at orientation in June 2003. She was an incoming freshman, and he was an incoming transfer student. Somehow, she says, she ended up in the transfer-student group.
“From the moment we met I knew we’d be friends,” Kristina says. “We kept in touch that first summer over email and instant messenger.”
A month after school started, they officially started dating. Today, they’ve been together for 17 years and married for 14. They have four children and live in the Tri-Cities.
“We loved our time at WSU and in Pullman,” she says, noting they stayed a few years after graduating to work at local schools and in Colfax for Whitman County. Adam ultimately finished his degree online through City University of Seattle while working full-time for the county. Says Kristina, “Pullman will always have a special place in our hearts, and we love sharing it with our children. Go Cougs!”
It started with a simple hello.
Matt Marsh (’02 Wildlife Ecol.) and Jancey Ackelson (’02 Elem. Ed.) met while he was working the WSU vs. Montana State football game.
As a resident firefighter for WSU, game duties included being stationed at specific posts in the stadium to provide emergency medical services. That night Jancey was celebrating a birthday with some girlfriends, one of whom was dating a fellow WSU firefighter stationed at the same post as Matt.
During half-time, the mutual friend wanted to swing by to say hello and discuss plans for after the game. A simple introduction to Matt was all it took.
Matt and Jancey spent the next year and a half dating at WSU: football games, baseball games, sledding on the golf course hill, Taco Tuesdays at Pete’s Bar and Grill, fishing on the Snake River, Jet Skiing at Wawawai County Park, playing darts at The Office in downtown Pullman, and bowling in the basement of the CUB.
Nearly 20 years later, Matt is a wildlife biologist and wildland firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service, and Jancey teaches fourth grade. Together, they have two boys, ages 11 and 7, who are already WSU Coug fans with plans to attend their parents’ alma mater. Visits to WSU have become a family affair, something the Marshes plan to continue for many years to come.
“Our Coug roots run deep,” Jancey says. “Pullman and WSU will forever be in our hearts.”
Caron Dorman (’04 Biol.) and Kevin Treloar (’04 Biol.) met during their senior year on a chance night out with mutual friends.
Once they started talking, they quickly realized they were in the same evolution class. In fact, he sat a couple rows behind her.
After that, they began strategically taking common classes together to finish up their biology degrees.
Caron followed in her grandparents’ footsteps when she married Kevin in 2005. Her grandparents had met at Washington State College in the 1950s.
Today, Kevin, a middle-school science teacher, and Caron, a physical therapist, live in the Seattle area with their four children.
He was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity who grew up farming wheat in the hills of the Palouse. She was a member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority.
Kenneth Dorman (’55 Ag.) met Janice Tugby at Washington State College. But exactly how they met varies by whom you ask.
Janice has always maintained that mutual friends in the Greek system suggested she help tutor a struggling Kenneth in their mutual English class.
Kenneth disputes the “struggling” part.
They married as students and started a family shortly thereafter. Janice didn’t finish her degree. But the Dormans raised their six children on a farm in the Columbia Basin that that their son, Richard Dorman (’76 Ag), now operates.
Their children and grandchildren have continued their legacy of attending WSU. And the couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in January.