As I looked out the window, watching the snow swirl all around us, I kept wondering why we were driving to Champaign in a blizzard.  As quickly as that thought came into my head, it vanished.  I knew exactly why we were going to Champaign; were going to the watch the Illini basketball game.  One of the players, center Mike Tisdale, is a life-long friend of my brother and like a second brother to me; he’s always been part of my family.  My brother Joe got tickets for the December 12, 2010 game and we were going watch them play.

When we arrived at Assembly Hall, the attendance was down due to the blizzard but that didn’t dampen our spirits, we were ready for an exciting time.

The Illini hosted the Northern Colorado Bears and played in front of 5,157, one of the smallest crowds in history on that Sunday afternoon; the actual number of tickets sold 14,814.  The weather must of have gotten to everyone that afternoon; the Illini players had a good first half but came back in the second and let the Bears score 50 points.  Even so, Mike scored 14 points and seven rebounds getting Illinois off to a hot start.  When the game ended the Illini won 86-76, it wasn’t quite as exciting as I expected but nonetheless, they won and I had a good time.

As the Hall emptied, there were only a handful of people left, mostly close friends and relatives of the players.  We were waiting to talk to Mike in center court where people were starting to gather to take pictures.  As I walked towards them I could see my boyfriend,  Abe Christofilakos.

When I met up with him and Mike, Abe dropped to one knee and said “I want to make you the happiest you can be and make me the happiest I can be”.

Abe took out the ring and I said yes. The crowd was cheering for us as tears were streaming down my cheeks.  I was stunned.  We have been together for six years, and with my birthday just the day before, I wasn’t sure when this day was going to happen.  I hugged everyone as I wiped tears away, showing them my engagement ring.  A news reporter from the News-Gazzette was there and he interviewed both of us and wrote an article in their paper.  I found out afterwards Abe had been planning this for about a month and a half and with Mike’s help!

It was very surprising because Abe is more of a low-key guy so for him to make such a public proposal was definitely unexpected.

I always said I would not be that girl who cries, but I did.  And as it turned out, I did have an exciting time at the game that winter day.


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Last updated February 5, 2017