Craig Heatherly and Linaya Hass -- stars in the video of a Midnight Madness surprise proposal that’s drawn more than 9,000 views through Tuesday night -- barely survived their first date.
Heatherly, an assistant at Davenport University (NAIA) in Grand Rapids, Mich., proposed to Hass, the school’s dance coach, during the program’s Midnight Madness festivities Friday night.
Heatherly dressed up as the team’s mascot and engaged in a staged dance-off with a reluctant Hass, who accepted the proposal.
The two were introduced to one another by one of Heatherly’s best friends last summer.
But it wasn’t’ love at first sight.
Hass was 20 minutes late for their first date.
She had a reasonable excuse. As she was driving to the venue, a car driving in front of hers hit a dog and fled. Hass went door-to-door until she found the owner of the pet, which survived.
“I thought, ‘He should understand.’ He was so heartless,” Hass told ESPN.com. “It almost did [end]. I didn’t give off that great of a first impression. It’s a good thing I passed the second date.”
Both laugh about the awkward moment now.
They’ve clearly patched things up since that time.
Heatherly, who played at Division II UMass-Lowell, said he conjured up the idea of a Midnight Madness proposal months ago. That was the easy part. Keeping the news from his future bride, however, was more difficult.
One night, Hass’ phone died so she used Heatherly’s. But the coach tried to stop her because he was scared she’d find the text messages -- detailing the proposal plan -- that he’d sent to friends. Hass, at the time, wondered if her fiancée was keeping something from her.
“I was on his phone looking online and he got really mad at me,” she said. “I was like ‘Do you have something to hide on there?’ That kind of started a little bit of an argument.”
That wasn’t the only time Heatherly’s plan was nearly derailed.
Heatherly tricked Hass into participating in the dance-off at Midnight Madness, which featured the coach and four other students. Hass was told that she might be asked to participate in the event of a tiebreaker. But a school official accidently wrote Hass’s name into the script of the Midnight Madness plan, which Hass received early.
So she knew it was a setup, although she didn’t know why. She told Heatherly that she wouldn’t participate if they called her name.
“I’m like ‘Now, now Linaya.’ I was like … ‘It’s not about you, this is about the school. It’s about school spirit,’” he said. “She’s like ‘Craig, absolutely not.’ …It actually came to the point where I’m like ‘C’mon, Linaya. It’s only 10 seconds.’”
But when Hass’s name was called during Midnight Madness, she refused to move until one of her dancers pulled her from her seat.
Hass stepped onto the court and eventually danced for a few seconds, still unaware of the plot. Then, Heatherly faked an ankle injury, got down on one knee, revealed his identity and made his pitch.
“As I’m talking she’s like, ‘What are doing, Craig?’” Heatherly said.
Added Hass: “At first, I was just confused. I didn’t know he was going to propose. You can see on the video my hands fly up to my face. ‘Oh my gosh.’ I’m glad there’s a video now. It was all just a big blur.”
The duo plans to tie the knot next August.
Heatherly said he never expected his proposal to attract so much attention.
“I never would have even thought it would have gotten to this point,” he said. “I just wanted her to say yes.”