June 14, 2018

Alumni Spotlight: Love Across Enemy Lines

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Everyone knows the tale of the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry but what happens when love is added to the mix – a wedding, of course.

Andrea Kacsits and Ben Braden recently tied the knot in their home state of Michigan. Andrea was a four-year member of the Ohio State women’s volleyball team while Ben spent his collegiate career on the Michigan football team as an offensive lineman.

How did a Buckeye and Wolverine come together in holy matrimony you ask? Let’s take it back to 2010 during French class at Rockford High School.

“He got a vocabulary word horribly wrong in front of a lot of people and I thought it was hilarious, so through that mishap we became friends,” Andrea said. “When we were seniors in 2012, he was my homecoming date but we broke up three months later and didn’t speak to each other for three years, having no intentions of getting back in touch with each other.”

As the saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

“Christmas of our junior year in college, I had friends over one night and he tagged along with one of his old football buddies from high school that was invited to come,” Andrea shared. “I was shocked when he showed up at the door! We started dating again six months later and had a long distance relationship with him being at Michigan and me being at Ohio State. He finished his fifth year while I lived in the Philippines, and then he moved to New Jersey while I lived in Michigan before the wedding. Our journey has been crazy but it only makes it more fun to tell.”

If the newlyweds could handle years of living in different places then a wedding full of Ohio State and Michigan fans would be a breeze, right?

“All of his groomsmen were either former Michigan football players or fans and I had my entire team from my senior season so the fight songs were flying,” Andrea exclaimed. “One of my favorite parts of the night was when my entire team got in the middle of the dance floor and sang ‘Hang on Sloopy’ while the Michigan fans were cutting up and yelling. The Wolverines followed up with their fight song but we requested the OSU fight song and O-H-I-O’d too much from them to come back with anything! Yet another win for the Bucks.”

While there’s plenty of differences to focus on in the rivalry, Andrea and Ben have found a way to stand on common ground.

“We talk about things we like about each other’s school despite the rivalry and how fortunate we are to both be Big Ten athletes,” Andrea said. “Not just Division I athletes, but to experience and grow up with the Big Ten mindset is an incredible honor that we are both grateful to have individually and as a couple. The rivalry gives us something to be proud of separately, but the unity that the Big Ten provides is always something to be celebrated.”