Teamwork is nothing new to University of the Sciences alumni Dave Kittle DPT’11 and Annie Abbate DPT’11 as the pair shined on and off the baseball and softball diamonds during their time at the University. So when it came time for Kittle to propose to his girlfriend of four years on Nov. 9, he relied on the help of two USciences coaches to execute his game plan. And what better place to give a diamond than on the diamond?
“I decided to propose to Annie in Philadelphia because that’s where we met and became a couple. I couldn’t think of a better place than USciences, where it all began,” said Kittle, a physical therapist in central New Jersey who met Abbate their freshman year in 2005.
Because Abbate developed and maintained a good relationship with Bob Heller, director of athletic communication, Kittle asked him to reach out to her with a believable story to get her back on the University’s softball field.
“As a sports information director who puts in more than 50 hours per week during the school year, I learned to appreciate the little things like Annie stopping by to talk, or Dave just asking how I was doing,” Heller said, noting his friendship with the pair began when they were freshmen. “It was a no-brainer when Dave asked me to help out with his proposal; however, I wasn’t sure at first if I could sell the ruse to Annie knowing nothing slips past her.”
Luckily, the plan worked.
When Heller contacted Abbate to see if she would be available to visit the University to help provide feedback for a new digital scoreboard the school planned to purchase, she immediately agreed to help and never suspected he had an ulterior motive.
Heller said this was the first time he has ever been contacted by a former student to help plan a marriage proposal, and he was honored to help them accomplish such a meaningful day.
Unbeknownst to Abbate, Kittle hired two videographers to capture the proposal, and a hidden camera was set up behind home plate. When Kittle and Abbate arrived to the softball field, the videographers and University athletic director Paul “Coach K” Klimitas were acting as if they were snapping photos of a possible location for the new scoreboard.
“It’s funny because Annie jumped right into their discussion and still fully believed she was helping the athletic department with the installation of a new scoreboard,” Kittle said. “Eventually, I pulled Annie very close to home plate, said a few meaningful comments about our relationship, and dropped to one knee for the proposal.”
Kittle and Abbate have since watched the video of the proposal, and said it is yet another USciences memory they will forever cherish. Call it a homerun.
“Our engagement story is proof the University’s staff and faculty genuinely care about us as people and don’t just view us as their former students,” Kittle said.