INDIANAPOLIS – Commotion was to be expected for this moment.
After all, it was a pretty rare event that happened on the field at Key Stadium on November 16th. When UIndy was handed the Great Lakes Valley Conference championship trophy, it was just the second time in school history that the team locked up a place in the NCAA Division II playoffs.
Connor Barthel was expecting those cheers as he joined his teammates around the trophy as they took pictures among a spirited crowd following a conference-clinching 21-14 victory over Truman State. But as it started to die down, suddenly commotion started up again nearby.
“I heard a big scream a bunch of people taking pictures in a circle,” said Barthel of something going on nearby, unsure of what was going on.
Whatever it was, it drew the attention of a few Greyhounds players and fans who were surrounding this event. It must have been big, Barthel surmised, since one of his own family members ran over to check it out.
“My mom shot over there and took about seven or eight pictures of them,” said Barthel-referring to senior defensive lineman Jordan Sharp and his girlfriend Taylor Hole.
What was happening inside the circle was something that was in the mind of Greyhounds’ defensive lineman for a few months. After two years of dating Taylor, Sharp sought a unique way to propose before the end of his senior season and his graduation.
It was at this time and at this moment that seemed just perfect.
“I kinda wanted to do it with my teammates in some way because they have been such an important part of my life,” said Sharp of his marriage proposal. “Since I’m a senior, that’s kinda winding down for me. I wanted them to send me off with Taylor and the next part of our lives.”
This was not something that’s unusual in college atheltics-especially in football. Most memorable was Boise State’s Ian Johnson at the Fiesta Bowl in 2007, who proposed to his girlfriend Chrissy Popadics moments after converting the game-winning two-point conversion in an upset win over Oklahoma.
Marriage proposals were back in the national conversation just a day before Sharp’s at UIndy. The night before at the Rose Bowl, UCLA’s Stan McKay proposed to his girlfriend Chelcey Romeril following the Bruins’ victory over Washington.
“I was like ‘That guy stole my idea,'” said Sharp, who had actually begun planning his the day before.
He gave the ring he had purchased to Taylor’s father, who would be with her during UIndy’s game against Truman State. He would be the only one in on the plan, which was to transpire shortly after the Greyhound’s game.
Taylor didn’t suspect a thing.
“Our whole family was there but it was senior night and I kinda just chalked it up to that,” said Hole of most of his and her family being in attendance at the game. “When I got onto the field they were celebrating winning the championship so I was still trying to take pictures of them with the trophy and then we always go down and with his family and my family and we greet him.
“So his dad had already taken pictures with him and stuff.”
That’s when the plan began to transpire. Sharp approached Taylor with a simple question.
“After the game I just asked her if I could get conference ring, she said yes. Then I asked her if she wanted her engagement ring,” said Sharp. “She thought I was kinda joking.”
This was no joke. Taylor’s father handed him the ring, and down to a knee he went.
“I was so surprised,” said Hole of the proposal. “I didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t know what to think. I thought it was really special that my dad had the ring and that he had met up with my dad and asked for his permission and had him be the one to hand the ring to him before he gave it to me.
“It was kinda indescribable but it was a great moment.”
Of course Taylor said yes and then two embraced as those around them cheered. The couple is hoping for a summer wedding but at the moment are trying to take it their unique moment at a November football game.
“I told guys previously my plan but I didn’t expect them to kinda surround me and cheer me on and afterwords once she said yes,” said Sharp. “Just made that moment more special for me.”
Certainly it was worth all of the commotion.