I am extremely excited to announce to the world that Madison and I are engaged, as I have made extremely apparent in my myriad of overly excited tweets and Instagram posts using the big F word, “fiancée!”
It all started about a year ago when I got a call from a player in the league telling me she wanted to come out of retirement, that she had made the retirement choice a little too hastily. She was asking if she had the full support of the National Women’s Hockey League Players’ Association, and she was extremely excited to come back into the league. That call was from Madison Packer.
This sparked a series of conversations about literally anything and everything other than hockey, eventually leading to me asking her out for a beer. She flat out said “No!”
After that, I was determined. Madison told me she would be in Boston (my hometown) coaching a hockey tournament. It was my only opportunity to casually be in the same place as her. So I told a little white lie that I was there coaching as well, and asked if she wanted to grab that drink. She said “Yes,” so I was in the car from Connecticut driving about two hours for our first date.
I didn’t tell her that I had no team to coach that day until about six months into our relationship. She forgave me.
It was over a Bud Light at a Framingham, Mass., Sheraton that I met the love of my life. She walked me to my car, kissed me on my cheek, and I swear my heart melted. We sat watching the sunrise, and talking as the run rose over the city... way, way outside the city.
It was an amazing feeling. Ask us both. That is when we knew. Because who looks at a random view of a highway of kinda-Boston and falls in love. We did. When we reached major milestones in our lives it just felt right. In this short year we have become homeowners.
We were also fierce competitors on the ice, but I was nothing if not a super fan when I watched her raise the Isobel Cup over her head for the first time.
We both celebrated a sibling getting married, and we were completely surrounded by love. This is how I knew that on July 14, 2018, I was going to surprise Madison with the most creative and unique weekend of her life.
First I had to do a l bit of lying. Well, white lying? I had my best friend, NWHL player Kaleigh Fratkin, “invite us to a restaurant opening” in Boston. I had my parents tell us they were “out of town” for the weekend so she didn’t ask any questions. When Madison and I checked into a nice hotel downtown instead of staying with my parents, it made perfect sense to her because my parents were “out of town.”
We got ready for the “restaurant grand opening,” and again, Maddy took some coaxing to get her hustled out the door early. I told her that Boston was very important to me, and I wanted to show her around, starting with the Boston Public Garden. She thought I was crazy planning this long walk, in mid-July, when she would be wearing a suit, and I would be wearing heels. I knew she was just being nice when she tried to look excited.
As we walked around the park my heart was pounding. We stopped and took a selfie by the park entrance. My hands were sweating. I could have passed out. We took the entrance picture just for good measure, and I thought at the time that she was just trying to amuse me.
After a rather nervous and scatterbrained walk, I made eye contact with our hidden photographer and knew it was “go time.” We walked to the edge of the water to look at the ducklings, and I looked at my future wife. I teared up in my little speech (adorable as she would say), and she teared up too as she finally figured it out.
I got down on one knee, yes in white pants, and I said, “Madison will you marry me?”
With a massive smile, she said “Yes!”
Then she said, “Stand up though because literally everyone is staring at us.” I turned and looked around the park, and to my pleasant surprise, the entire place had erupted with clapping and cheering. I was a little nervous doing it. She’s one of the most private people I know, and I could see she was nervous too. But her reaction made that much more amazing.
“Babe,” she said standing there in front of the crowd that had formed, “this is perfect.”
We kissed, hugged, and I spilled out my elaborate plans of a family-filled weekend. I immediately ruined every surprise. I spilled the beans about my parents (who were not out of town) meeting us, my brother and his wife, her parents that had flown in from Northern Michigan, and her brother and his wife from D.C. I had planned a private dinner, a catered brunch, and a Red Sox game, that was topped to both our surprise with a message on the Jumbotron from both our families. It was “more than she could have ever imagined.”
We polished off the weekend celebrating our love in my favorite city in the world. It was beautiful, and most importantly we ended it with Fenway Franks. It was exactly indicative of who we are, and I am beyond lucky to have such an amazing family and a beautiful fiancée!
You can follow Anya Battaglino on Twitter @battaglinoa, or on Instagram @battaglinoa.
You can follow Madison Packer @madison_packer_, or on Instagram @mpacker14.