Nate and I met in college at the University of Nevada. I was on an athletic scholarship for Track and Field as a hurdler and sprinter. I was finishing up my last year of school and had just accepted another scholarship to get my Master’s degree at the University of Texas at Austin. I just had to get through my last year at Nevada. No biggie right?!
Then along came this freshman. Yes, an 18 year old freshman who had a smile and dimples that could light up a room! I was waiting for the elevator and when it opened there he was. He introduced himself and kissed my hand. I told him my name and he said nice to meet you. It was super sweet, but I wasn’t interested at all. Wink wink! In my mind I told myself he was way too young , I was 21 years old and was leaving in May. “Stay focused Atoya,” I said to myself.
Somehow we kept bumping into each other. Time after time again we would say hi, exchange simple conversation, and then one day it happened. He asked me if I wanted to go to the movies. I mean, it’s just a movie right yall?! So, I said yes and the rest was history. We would sit, talk and laugh for hours. He was kind, affectionate, and hilarious! I loved that about him. He could always make me laugh out loud before it ever had an abbreviation. We were just two kids having fun together and loving life and I got to know him on a more personal note because he didn’t play football his first year in college. Instead, he got to see me compete in the hurdles, sprints, and relays and I loved having him there to support me.
Now this is the part that I like to call plot twist. My senior year was nearing the end and it was time to say goodbye. I didn’t know what would happen with us after this year. I had grown so fond of Nate and it was something organically special. We spent so much time together and it was just easy. The thought of long distance made me sick. I mean who really wants to do long distance in college? Not me! What I realized was sometimes you just have to let go and trust that whatever is meant to be will be. And let’s be honest, it was pretty much the only choice I had.
About a month before I was preparing to leave, I received a phone call in regards to another scholarship offer from the University of Nevada for my Master’s Degree. To top it off, I would still be working with athletes and coaches in the NCAA compliance department. I could not believe it. Not only did I receive a scholarship, but I was able to work on campus in the same space that I had spent the last four years. I call that divine intervention! (Thank you Lord!) And that ladies and gentleman is how I ended up staying at Nevada with Nate cheering him on in his first collegiate football game and many more after that. I’m talking road trips, flights to Hawaii (they were in our conference), home games with my track girls (love you Shar), and yes more parties!! Yolo!
The University of Nevada is what made Nate and Atoya a possibility. This college will always be so special to me. I earned two degrees, met the love of my life, and watched us both grow from kids into adults (with plenty of mistakes along the way.) We had to learn somehow right? 😉 I will always bleed blue and silver and will forever be grateful for coach Kraft, coach Serrano, and coach Blaney for taking a chance on this tall, skinny two time Arizona State Champion. I had no idea what life would entail, but I knew how to work hard (thanks dad), study hard (thanks mom), and compete hard (thanks Norine, coach Shapiro, and coach Carson.) Nate I thank you for pursuing me, for loving me, and for making me laugh! You will always be my #1! Wolfpack for life! Muah!