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Originally published: 2013-12-04 01:56:38
Last modified: 2013-12-04 11:53:56

WHS grad proposes at basketball game

by Steve Behr Sports Editor

There was a time when Caleb Courtney and Kelly Sweeney were members of the Watauga athletic department.

Their return to Lentz-Eggers Gym was memorable for them and the near-capacity crowd watching Watauga play basketball against Avery on Tuesday night.

Courtney took a deep breath and then took a knee before asking Sweeney for her hand in marriage during halftime of the boys' game. He told the unsuspecting crowd, and the unsuspecting Sweeney, that he wanted to get married and had the ring to prove it.

"I was very surprised," Sweeney said. "I kind of had a clue when he said he went to the bathroom and picked up a microphone."

Courtney had help popping the question. Several students, many of them being the junior varsity cheerleaders that Sweeney coaches at the school, held up individual letters painted on paper that spelled out "Kelly, will you marry me?"

Sweeney didn't need a paper sign to spell out her response. Her embrace spoke volumes.

"She said 'yes,'" Courtney said. "We've been together for five years, so I knew that she knew."

The two first met as freshmen at Watauga High School and started dating when they were sophomores. Courtney played basketball at Watauga, while Sweeney was a cheerleader for the Pioneers.

Both graduated from the school in 2010.

In 2013, Sweeney is the junior varsity cheerleader coach and a student at Caldwell Community College, where she studies early childhood education. Courtney is a student at Appalachian State, where he studies recording and production.

Courtney admitted to still shaking with nerves even after he proposed. He said he chose a basketball game because between his playing for the Pioneers, and her cheering for them, it was something that bonded them together.

"I played basketball here, and I met her while I was a basketball player and she was a cheerleader," Courtney said. "I wanted to stand up in front of the community. She didn't want anything big, but that's not what I am, so we talked about it one day, and she said, 'You can do whatever you want.' So, I chose a basketball game."

Neither Sweeney nor Courtney have any idea when the big day will be. Courtney has a job offer in Nashville, Tenn., so the wedding has to be planned around whether he accepts the offer.

"It's going to be a while," Courtney said. "We have a lot to talk about, but this is the first step in getting the ball rolling."

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