Stallion Sweethearts - Love Stories from Providence

Did you know, we have over 35 Stallion Sweetheart couples from our 25 years of Providence? This year, we asked our Alumni couples to share how they met. We are highlighting 22 of these love stories for 2022! Stay tuned for more alumni news and updates via our Facebook & Instagram pages and reach out if you have anything to share by emailing jray@prov.org. Go Stallions!

Featured in order of graduating year:

Nathan & Lauren Zink (Koch), ’98 & ’01 – Our parents have always known each other. My uncle was best friends with Lauren’s parents. We have a picture at my cousin’s 2-year-old birthday party sitting on a blanket together. I was 5, Lauren was 2…we say it was our first date. We had one class together my senior year, but she was a freshman so we did not really hang together. Started dating years later when we reconnected at church after not seeing each other for many years.

Danny & Haley Sands (Reeder), ’00 – ​​​​​​Haley and I met at a Providence varsity basketball game on January 4, 2001 to be exact. I was a freshman at UNF and she was a sophomore at FSU. Her younger brother Bart (Reeder, ’03) and my younger brother Ryan (Sands, ’02) had a game that night and she was in town for Christmas break. Haley’s mom and my dad decided to play matchmaker. My dad approached me during halftime and said “boy, are you going to introduce yourself or am I going to have to do it for you?” Needless to say, I introduced myself and we talked in the bleachers the entire second half. I really couldn’t tell you what happened in the game. When getting ready to leave the gym, I asked Haley for her email address. I sent her an email a few days later and we started talking long distance through e-mail, long distance calling cards and AOL instant messenger dates. No text messaging back then and you paid per minute if you used a cell phone! Now here we are married for almost 18 years and are blessed with four beautiful girls. Providence is where it all started!

Hollis & Jamie Donaldson (Garside), ’01 & ’02 – ​​​​​Hollis and I knew of each other but did not actually know one another until we started training for soccer. Hollis graduated in 2001 and went to play men’s soccer at Liberty University. I graduated in 2002 and had signed with the University of Florida women’s soccer team. My senior year at Providence, my dad approached Hollis and asked if he would be interested in training me in soccer. That summer, through our training, we became close friends but did not begin to date until his junior year of college (my sophomore). The rest is history! We have been married for 15 years and have 4 beautiful children, including a 2nd Generation Stallion who attends Providence. It is neat to look back and think that God knew the entire time that we were walking past our spouse in the halls without knowing!

Dustin & Cassidee Drake (Rukab), ’01 – ​​​​Dustin and I met in 9th grade through mutual friends. It was a very small class so it was inevitable. We became fast friends and spent most of our free time together. We began dating that year and continued to do so on and off throughout high school. It wasn’t until we were in our early twenties that we began to consider God’s purpose in bringing us together. We were married in 2006. We have four sweet babies, with one now in the 9th grade (at Providence!). What a full-circle moment for our family. We are thankful for our years at Providence and the path it set us on.

Paul & Ashley Stafford (Correo), 02 & ’06 – Paul and I were set up by my dad. Since he was a few years older, I knew of him, but didn’t know him personally while we were at school. He graduated Providence and attended Florida State University. I also attended FSU but, after he had already graduated. During this time, he and his family lived down the street from us and while I was in college, he had developed a golfing friendship with my Dad. While home from college for Christmas break, I stopped by the golf course to visit with my dad and he introduced me to his friend, Paul – whom he thought I would remember from my Providence days. I did. He asked me out to dinner and we’ve been together ever since. February 26 will be 11 years of marriage. 

Ryan & Shelby Austin (Reeder), ’03 & ’07 – Ryan and I met formally at church, but Ryan was in the the same graduating class at Providence as my older brother, Bart. We served in youth ministry together for a few years, and got to know each other better then. Ministry was a part of both of our hearts which drew us closer together. We got married in May of 2010 and we now have 4 beautiful children. We are both serving in ministry still at Southpoint Community Church and we love it so much. 

Richard & Kalynn Dodd (Grabau), ’06 – I started Providence in 4th grade when they opened and Richard started in 9th grade. Our paths didn’t really cross until 10th grade when we had a few classes together, specifically English. I sat in the back of the class and kept talking to a friend so the teacher moved my seat and I ended up sitting next to Richard. This is when we started talking more and more and eventually started dating. We’ve loved each other ever since (18 years so far), even through a year of long distance and moving states together. We eventually made our way back to Jacksonville and built a home in Nocatee 9 years ago. We have three amazing boys – Noah age 7, Zachary age 3, and Ethan age 1. We are so blessed to have found each other so young and to have received the Christian foundation that Providence instilled in us. 

Chris & Lauren Gonzalez (Fennell), ’06 – Chris and I met the beginning of our junior year at Providence. We had lockers near each other and were both late to class. He was frantically looking for a calculator for a test that he was late to. According to his version of the story, I worked very hard to find him a calculator. The rest is history and we have spent the last 17 years building the most beautiful life together, including raising two young boys and running a company together.

Brandon & Lauren Wilkes (Combs), ’07 & ’06 – Brandon was part of the first class when Providence opened, 25 years ago. When I started at Providence in 6th grade, we became friends. We started dating in 2004 and did a year of long distance in 2006 before Brandon joined me at FSU. We got married in 2012 and we have three beautiful girls: Reagan, Carter and Lincoln, who will be raised as Stallions (and maybe eventually, Noles)!

Joel & Brooke Newman (Fenwick), ’07 – We met at Providence in 8th grade and reconnected at our 10 year reunion. Joel was the type of student who played sports and was very involved and I was the student who had one best friend and skipped school events. We are a blended family with 3 kids and are expecting our first baby together in May!

Shay & Gretchen Jacobs (Zapf), ’09 – I fell for Gretchen the first time I saw her in 4th grade in Mrs. Roberts class, but was too nervous to talk to her until freshman year. We dated through most of High School. Freshman year of college I got sick and she was there to help nurse me back to health. We got married in 2014 and had our first daughter Adeline in 2016 and then Ansley in 2020. Now both girls are going to be at Providence this fall & Gretchen is celebrating her 8th year of teaching at Providence.

Nathan & Becca Perkins (Dikter), ’11 – We met at Providence in 8th grade. Nate was a lifer and I started at Prov in 8th grade. We became best friends and started dating summer before our senior year. Now, our son Beaux starts at Providence Preschool this fall! 

Jeff & Mariah Blaisdell (Whidden), ’12 – We met in Mrs. Abbot’s 6th grade math class but really became good friends when we had Mr. Grey’s physics class together in 11th grade. We started dating senior year of high school and both went to the University of Central Florida for college. We got married in Jacksonville in May 2017 and made the cross country move to California just two weeks later! We currently have two fur babies and hope to grow our family even more.

William & Kara Everill (Shrout), ’12 – William & I dated for a little bit at the beginning of junior year and broke up. As luck would have it, we both went back to Providence during sophmore year of college to see mutual friends in the spring play and realized that there was still a spark there! A few months of constant texting later, we got back together and the rest is history! Our time apart really helped us to grow as individuals and become the people God truly meant for one another and we love our shared high school memories. We got married 4 years ago in August 2017, but always joke that we might as well be an old married couple because we have known each other for so long!

Austin & Lela Merriam (Parker), ’12 – We met in Mr. Overman’s bible class and started dating in 2011. After graduation, we both went to Florida Southern College in Lakeland and graduated in 2016. Once college finished, we moved back to Jacksonville and were married in October 2017. Two years later, we had our son Parker and we are so excited to have him start his journey at Providence Preschool in August!

Jacob & Ashley Shearer (Marsh), ’12 – Jacob and I met in the 6th grade, when I moved back to Jacksonville (my hometown) from South Carolina. He’ll tell you we didn’t actually meet until the next year, but I disagree. We hit it off and quickly became best friends. In middle school we dated for a short time and then reconnected sophomore year, spending more time flirting with each other than actually paying attention in class (sorry, Ms. Mullally!). Jacob left to attend Douglas Anderson the following year and officially asked me to be his girlfriend on my senior night. We attended UNF together and graduated in 2015/2016. We’ll be celebrating 7 years of marriage in June and have two children, Nathaniel (2.5) and Noah, our daughter who was born this past December.

Devin & Carly LaFoucade (Phillips), ’13 & ’15 – We met the summer after Devin graduated from Providence through a mutual close friend. We’ve been together since then. We’ve now been married for 2 years and have a 16 month old son.

Casey & Taylor Cribb (Sandberg), ’14 – We met during 10th grade English class and began dating that summer. This year we celebrate 10 years together, our first wedding anniversary and we are expecting a baby girl in a few weeks!

Evan & Emily DeCosta (Clement), ’14 – Evan joined the Providence family in 6th grade, where I had gone to school my whole life. Flirtatious banter was often exchanged in high school, but we remained best friends. Eventually, we went separate ways but after we both moved back to Jacksonville, we picked up where we left off enjoying live music, Jags games and cooking. Evan proposed on New Year’s Eve 2020 and they got married on 9/04 in honor of their favorite city! They are now enjoying the next chapter in their new home with two furry friends and Evan continues his tutoring business which includes many current Providence students. We are very grateful to Providence for starting the new DeCosta family!

Stephen & Andrea Brown (Mendez), ’14 & ’15 – We met at Providence, in Mr. Starkweather’s math class. I was the only 10th grader in this 11th grade math class and Stephen sat close to me. We also attended church together. Being in the same friend group at church, we grew closer as friends and began dating my senior year. He went to prom with me and we attended USF in Tampa together, grew closer through student ministry at USF, and got engaged during a family trip to Germany. We’ve been married a year and a half now, are back living in Jacksonville, and are so happy that Providence brought us together.

Jack Brady & Corbin Little, ’14 & ’15 – We met at Providence, drove the same exact car (Black Honda Accord 2 Door), were in the same Prom Group in 2012 with different dates, and both dated different people throughout high school. We reconnected after Jack moved back to Jacksonville in 2018 after graduating from FSU and I was about to graduate from UNF, and the rest is history! We currently live at the beach with our Yorkie and we get married on 4/22/22!

Nathan & Megan Adams (Mazak), ’17 – Nathan & I had classes together freshmen year but it was not until sophomore year that we began to talk. We became friends when I made a negative comment about his favorite baseball team (LA Dodgers) at a football game sophomore year. He was a baseball player for Providence and I started to go to baseball games and we started to date at the end of our sophomore year. We were married in 2021 and moved to Barbados recently for medical school. 

@theProv

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