This past Saturday, Oct. 13, graduate student Matthew Van Hook was brought onto the field during the Duck football game against University of Washington to be honored for his service in the United States Army. However, Van Hook took the opportunity to honor his relationship with Makenzie Kruger by making a marriage proposal with all of Autzen as his witness.
The proposal during the game was an idea that originally came from Kruger’s mom. “Makenzie was born during a UW football game, then she attended and graduated from there,” Van Hook said.
Originally, he thought about proposing at Disneyland later this year, but decided to play along with the ongoing rivalry he has with Makenzie and the significance of UW to the Kruger family.
“I was already super excited because I thought it was all about Matt and him being recognized for his service,” Kruger said about initially heading to the field at Autzen Stadium.
The couple first went down to the field and watched the game as they waited for a time-out to be called. Van Hook threw his “O” and Kruger waved in support, reportedly biting her tongue and keeping her Husky pride.
“I’m a combat vet and I have PTSD. I don’t really like large crowds to begin with. The only way I could have done a proposal like that, is for someone like Makenzie,” Van Hook said. “I came to my own insecurities. I looked at it as not being about me, but about her.”
Kruger recalled not thinking anything was out of the ordinary until the Duck came out with a small Nike shoe box. She remembers immediately thinking, “That’s weird — it’s small. That’s not his shoe size.” Ultimately, she wrote it off and figured there must be a gift card inside.
Minutes later, as she peaked over at Van Hook and the Duck again, she stood corrected. Van Hook dropped to one knee after pulling the hidden engagement ring from the Nike shoebox and asked her to marry him.
Despite the arena full of screaming fans, Van Hook and Kruger were alone in that moment.
“It went silent,” Kruger said. “The moment stood still. I didn’t hear anything. It was surreal — blissful. I only saw Matt on the field.”
It wasn’t until Kruger’s mom showed her a video recording of the engagement later that she realized how loud the stadium really was.
Van Hook and Kruger officially started dating last winter after meeting on the dating-app Bumble. The match was made in unlikely circumstances as Kruger is a UW alumni based in Seattle, while Van Hook is completing his MBA at the University of Oregon. Kruger’s job in sales allows her to travel, which is how she was in range of Van Hook long enough to connect on Bumble.
“I never thought I would cheer for UW,” Van Hook said.
“We do have a little rivalry going on,” Kruger said, “But I would pick this Duck over a Husky any day.”