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‘A little dating community': Marriages emerge from BYU Student Athlete Building

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PROVO — Shea Martinez was not impressed.

One day in February 2014, Martinez and other members of the BYU women’s track and field team were working out in the weight room when a teammate called her over to speak with a basketball player named Kyle Collinsworth.

The 6-foot-6 guard was sporting a mullet hairdo and wearing a cutoff hoodie, shorts and clunky black snow boots. He grinned as he asked her to “rate his outfit.”

“I looked at him and said, ‘Probably a 3,’” Martinez said. “Then I turned around and walked away, thinking, ‘I’m the biggest brat. Why did I say that?'”

But the two would meet again, and somewhere along the way, a friendlier relationship developed. Last month, Martinez and Collinsworth were married in the Salt Lake LDS Temple.

The basketball star and track standout are not the first student-athlete couple to marry at BYU. Some scholarship athletes who are balancing academics and the rigors of college athletics say they often have little time left over for a social life. At BYU, some end up dating and sometimes marrying those they see the most — other student-athletes at the Student Athlete Building.

Last year, BYU outfielder Andy Isom married soccer player Taylor Campbell. At the end of this month, former Cougar gymnast Summer Raymond will wed basketball star Tyler Haws. Martinez, Campbell and Raymond agree there is a unique dating network among student-athletes at BYU.

“The SAB is a little dating community,” Raymond said.

‘Want to do abs?’

Following their first encounter, where Martinez was less than impressed with Collinsworth's appearance, the two had some friendly interaction. They talked for a couple of hours in the SAB one day, and Collinsworth helped Martinez gracefully cancel a date with another guy scheduled to take place during a stressful finals week.

But Martinez was still a little wary. A few weeks later, back in the weight room, she was about to leave when Collinsworth approached. He had ditched the mullet hairstyle, which she appreciated.

“Hey, want to do abs with me?” he said.

“No, thanks, I’m good,” Martinez recalled saying. “I thought he was super cute, but I wasn’t ready to do abs (with him).”

The turning point came when she posted on Instagram and he commented. They began exchanging messages. She knew he had served an LDS mission in Russia and used Google Translate to send him messages in Russian. Collinsworth, whom Martinez described as “a jokester” and “goofy but hilarious,” was out of town at the time but asked if they could do something when he returned.

“Sounds good,” she said, finally passing along her cellphone number.

Amid hectic schedules with schoolwork, practice and travel, they managed to develop their relationship while maintaining their other priorities.

“You have to pick and choose. Do you want to be good at your sport? School? Social life? Sleep? You have to make and keep your priorities,” Martinez said. “We both had priorities before we met, and we stuck to that. We were willing to make sacrifices and make our time together count.”

Spending time together became activities such as picnics, going to an art museum, walks, hikes, watching Netflix and drinking healthy smoothies.

“We are the ultimate chillers,” Martinez said. “He is a health fanatic and knows his stuff. He makes really good smoothies and teriyaki salmon. … Kyle takes away the stress and knows everything will work out.”

Martinez, one of the most decorated female distance runners in Utah high school history, admitted she didn’t know a lot about basketball before dating Collinsworth. But she certainly learned a great deal last season, including the definition of “triple-double,” as her then-boyfriend set an NCAA record with six games of 10 or more points, rebounds and assists in a season.

Martinez, a sophomore who specializes in the 800 meters and has Olympic aspirations, said the fame has not gone to Collinsworth’s head. She doesn’t mind when fans approach and ask her to take a photo of them with him.

“He will always introduce me and tries to take the attention off himself," she said. "It’s not all about him."

Mutual understanding

Raymond knew of Haws the basketball player, but she didn’t recall sitting next to him in a summer Book of Mormon class shortly after he returned from his LDS mission.

“He knew who I was, but I didn’t even remember having the class with him,” Raymond said. “He said he sat by me and we were partners for a reading assignment. To me it was just another day in class.”

She does remember bumping into the Cougars’ hoops star at Walgreens over Christmas break. The pleasant meeting led to more interaction.

A few months later, Haws invited her to a baseball game, and their relationship gradually deepened.

Along the way, there have been humorous moments, such as the time she opened the sunroof of his vehicle and filled the car with snow. Or the embarrassing time when he took her to the driving range and said the secret to hitting a golf ball was keeping your eye on the ball, only to miss completely when he swung the club.

“He said he thought I was funny,” Raymond said. “He made me laugh too. He’s kind of a goofball.”

Fast forward to this summer. Raymond was a member of the BYU gymnastics team from 2013 until earlier this year when hip surgery ended her career. Haws recently completed his college career as the all-time leading scorer in school history. He is hoping to continue as a professional basketball player. The couple is preparing to be married July 30 in the Draper LDS Temple.

Because competition is second nature to both, there is mutual understanding about staying after practice for extra work and remaining positive after a loss or humble after a victory. As with Martinez and Collinsworth, maintaining a proper balance of homework, dedication to sport and healthy habits has been among the top priorities for Raymond and Haws. When possible, they relax by stepping away from sports.

“There have been times when we only see each other for 20 minutes a night because we have to get homework done. We didn’t hang out past 11 p.m. because it was important to get good sleep,” Raymond said. “We both know there are no shortcuts to success. He is going to stay after practice and I’m going to do my thing. We both understand what we have to get done, what our jobs are, and we support one another.”

Campbell and Isom

Campbell, a senior defender for the women’s soccer team, met Isom, a former BYU outfielder, a few years ago after flirting with his older brother.

Campbell and a friend were at a baseball game and noticed Willie Isom from a distance. They pretended to go to the bathroom in order to “check him out,” Campbell said.

Campbell knew Willie Isom had once dated a teammate, Hilary Kaufusi (now married to BYU football player Bronson Kaufusi). He had a “good guy” reputation.

Liking what she saw, Campbell sent Willie Isom a Facebook message to see if he had a girlfriend. To her dismay, he replied that he was dating someone but wanted to set her up with his little brother Andy, who he knew she would like.

“I was kind of bummed,” Campbell said. "I didn’t know the brother."

When Willie Isom asked to pass along her number, she hesitated, but she eventually agreed at the encouragement of her father. Campbell and Andy Isom began texting but did not meet in person for months because he was on his way to play summer ball in Canada.

“OK, this isn’t working,” Campbell remembered thinking.

Although Isom was far away, he persistently sent random messages through social media until they became electronic pen pals. In time, text messages became long phone conversations and then video chat sessions.

There was some teasing by family about her having an invisible boyfriend, but at the end of the summer, Isom proved he was real. She told her teammates that if he was everything he appeared to be, she would marry him.

‘They were like, ‘Tay, you don’t even know him.’ I said, ‘No, this is who he is; this is it.’ It was weird telling people that,” she said. “But he was my best friend.”

Campbell and Isom were married July 31, 2014, in the Draper LDS Temple.

Campbell’s grades improved after she got married because she spent significantly less time socializing and more time supporting her husband.

“I think baseball is kind of boring to watch, but I still go to the games and take homework,” she said with a smile.

Campbell, who is still getting used to being Campbell-Isom, has not been surprised to see so many athletes dating one another at BYU. There are some “jersey-chasers,” she said — girls only interested in high-profile athletes — but it’s generally a fun and friendly culture inside the SAB.

“We don’t have the opportunity to be around traditional students as much,” Campbell said. “You date the people you are around the most and who you are most comfortable with.”

Campbell and Isom have enjoyed their experiences at BYU. She would love for her future children to have a similar experience.

“I wouldn’t force it, but the second they start walking, I’ll hand them a baseball or soccer ball,” she said. “We would love for future children to play for BYU. That would be awesome.”

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