That Fan Marriage Proposal at the WTT Finals
So sure, the WTT Finals were more than a week ago, and the Washington Kastles' victory parade has long since ended. But any time a Washington Capitals cheerleader and an Azerbaijani ice dancer get engaged at a D.C. sporting event, the full story deserves to be told.
First of all, let me revise the previous descriptions. Emme was a member of the inaugural Red Rockers, the Caps' "spirit squad;" she auditioned for next year's team Monday evening. And Bruce--like Emme, a local ice skating coach--has twice competed for Azerbaijan at the European Ice Dancing championships via his partner, who has Azerbaijani citizenship.
The couple met more than a dozen years ago while skating in the D.C. area, followed each other around the country, and wound up back in Washington, where they started dating a few years ago. Bruce knew it was time for the next step, and he wanted to find a place where he could tell the whole world how he felt. Or at least a couple thousand World Team Tennis fans, plus assorted pros and the couple's parents.
See, Emme is a Washington Kastles cheerleader. Many of the team's game-day operations folks also work for the Caps, and Bruce used that connection to help secure their cooperation. And thus, during a changeover late in the championship match against the Springfield Lasers, Emme was told to head into the stands, sans poms, for a Fan of the Game segment.
"The next thing I know, Bruce comes up from behind the emcee, and the next thing I see is him down on one knee," Emme told me. "I didn't even know what to do."
"I didn't have any reservations about doing it until about three or four hours before," Bruce said. "And then in the last hour, my mom's like, 'I can't believe you're doing this,' and I'm like, 'I just hope I don't make a fool out of myself out there.' " (See video below.)
"When you look at the pictures, he was like Prince Charming, he had on a suit, he was down on one knee, [and] I was standing there in my little cheerleading outfit," Emme said. "It was like 100 degrees outside that day, we had been dancing for probably four hours already. I guess I looked all right."
"You looked great," Bruce said.
Eat your heart out, Ian Johnson, right?
And what next? Well, Emme said yes. The changeover took longer than expected;the Kastles leadership hadn't been informed of the gimmick, and the momentum shifted to the Lasers, meaning a few members of the Kastles weren't sure this proposal thing was such a great idea. Coach Murphy Jensen later joked that he hoped the marriage would fail; "The moment it happened I actually turned to the person next to me and said 'I can't believe we're icing ourselves! ' " Kastles owner Mark Ein told The Daily Forehand. Others took a more optimistic view.
"Hey, whatever floats your boat," Kastles player Scott Oudsema said Monday. "If he thought that was his best chance to get her to say yes...."
The Kastles, of course, went on to win the title, potentially providing a good omen for the happy couple, who really ought to name their first born after Olga Puchkova, who clinched the win. Bruce watched the end from the stands; "it really was some really great tennis," he said. And Emme watched from her customary cheering perch; "I just had a perma-grin, I couldn't stop smiling," she said. "I wanted to stare at the ring, but I was carrying pom-poms. So I kind of had to keep dancing."
With that whole cheering backdrop, I suggested maybe Emme should wear her Kastles uniform to the alter. She thanked me for the suggestion.
"I think I'm probably gonna end up wearing a white dress," she said.
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