Tuesday, September 11, 2007

High school relationship blossoms at different colleges

Tim Reid saw Ann McCullough and her friends looking at him from across the room, laughing. He thought their laughs were because they were making fun of him. Little did he know, McCullough only giggled because she was admiring him instead of paying attention in their high school freshman history class.

“He used to sit across the room from me so I actually just thought he was really cute. He just always smiled and never talked,” McCullough said.

Despite his notion that he was being made fun of, Reid thought McCullough was attractive and tried to get the courage to meet up with her after class.

“I was nervous talking to her,” he said.

McCullough’s friend since fourth grade, Alli Matheis, a junior at Indiana University, remembers Reid being quiet and staring with McCullough at him across the room.

A mutual friend kept the two connected over the summer, and after a few group hangouts and parties, on McCullough’s birthday of her sophomore year of high school, Reid asked her out.

“To be honest I don’t know what [the first date] was. I think we just went to dinner and a movie,” she said. “We had been talking a little before that, so it wasn’t as awkward as a normal first date probably would be, but it was good. It was fun.”

Six years of dating will hit its mark this fall. Not only did they survive three years of high school, but also the decision to go to different universities. McCullough chose early to go to Butler University because of its Physician Assistant program, and although Reid did look at Butler, he chose Indiana University.

“It was kind of him deciding where he was going to go, and it was a big deal with his dad wanting to choose a school for him and not just for me," McCullough said.

"I think his parents were kind of pushing him to keep his eyes open and he ended up choosing IU because it obviously has a better football program and they offered him D1 and stuff. So that was good and a big deal for him and I wanted him to go some place where he would be more challenged football-wise. So that was a good decision for him.

"It was really hard leaving for the first time because we were never used to it after three years -- being apart for so long."

Reid played football for one year, during which time they didn’t get to see one another much. They found that between each other's busy schedules, phone conversations were hard to fit in. For Reid, being away from each other during college has been hard for him but they make it work.

He said, “We’re both really trustworthy, so since we’re at different schools, it’s easier that way because we don’t get to be around each other all the time.”

Will McInerney, a junior at Butler who has known the couple since freshman year of college, thinks they are both great people and admires how great a couple they make.

“I think it is just the fact that they’ve been together for so long and known each other for such a long time,” McInerney said. “I think that really helps and they trust each other a lot; I think that is a good part of it.”

The tall, muscular, black football player Reid and his white cheerleader girlfriend have never had the interracial dating question cross their minds. But would their parents and outsiders look past it, too?

“We would get a few weird looks going to restaurants, maybe,” Reid said. “I thought my parents might be a little more worried about it than hers, but they were actually really cool about it and my grandparents were, too.”

The intimidating Mr. Reid, his father, got McCullough a little nervous but in the end appreciated her role in helping their son become a better student and more focused in school.

For McCullough’s parents, the story was a little different. She too was scared for Reid to meet her parents, especially her dad who was raised by a racist father.

“I used to talk to my mom about what would happen if I ended up marrying this guy that I think I love. She was very supportive and ended up telling my dad that I was worried about it and so he confronted me during high school," she said. "I think it was my senior year, and he was like ‘I don’t care; I don’t want you to think that I judge you. I don’t judge your relationship because of the way I was brought up.’ He was very open to it and he and Tim get along a lot now."

Before Reid quit football, Mr. McCullough and he would ensue on guy chat, discussing football strategies, since Mr. McCullough had played D1 football for a time in college, too.

Matheis said she and her friends in high school never looked at the fact that they were different races.

“Actually that was never an issue, never talked about at all. It was more of the football-cheerleader kind of couple. No one really thought of it like that at all.

"I don’t think they’ve really had any problems, they’ve never complained about an issue,” she said.

So no outside forces have gotten in Reid and McCullough’s way. Both sets of parents seem to agree the couple is a good thing and even college hasn’t broken their spirits or love for one another.

What’s next? Matheis can’t see them ever breaking up, thinks they’ll make it through college, and wouldn’t be surprised if they got married. McInerney doesn’t see any reason why they wouldn’t be together: “maybe eventually tying the knot and having a family, but that’s far down the road.”

The scary thing for McCullough is thinking about future places to live, making sure they both finish well in school, and getting their careers in line, but she could see herself marrying him. Reid has a pretty clear view of what the future will be, though.

“Hopefully we’ll make it past college and hope to get onto our career paths and then get married.”

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