Sharing X’s and O’s: Hugs, kisses join couple’s gridiron vowsThe bridesmaids and groomsmen strode down the running track, some exchanging high fives at the 50-yard line.
The bridesmaids and groomsmen strode down the running track, some exchanging high fives at the 50-yard line.
The bride promised to stand by her groom in good times and bad, “even losses in football games.” When they kissed, cheers rose from the bleachers.
When Jim Jonas and Denise Wolf were looking for a wedding venue, they quickly settled on a location that felt as natural to them as it might seem unorthodox to others: the West Fargo High School football field.
After all, Jonas, a 21-year coach, has spent countless hours there. His first encounter of, his courtship with, and his engagement to Wolf, assistant principal and athletic director at Cheney Middle School, were all entwined with school sports.
“A lot of our lives are centered on athletics,” said Jonas, West Fargo’s assistant football, basketball and track coach.
“And school,” added Wolf. “Our kids at school are our kids.”
Jonas met Wolf when she half-jokingly threatened to kick him out of a basketball game for arguing with a referee. The moment was trademark Jonas: He is approachable and laid-back in school corridors, students say, but intense during games, incessantly pacing and calling out to players.
Wolf was then an assistant principal in Devils Lake supervising the game, a loss for West Fargo Jonas still blames on the referees.
He proposed to her exactly two years later, in February 2009, at the end of another basketball game. This time, the Packers won, against arch-rival Fargo South.
The choice of wedding venue, unusual as it was, didn’t throw anyone off.
“That’s definitely the first such request that’s come to me,” says West Fargo athletic director Curt Jones. But then again, “Jim spends a lot of his time there, so it’s become really personal to him.”
Katrina and Eme Fahrman, former world history students of Jonas’ and water girls at football practice, concurred.
“It’s very proper and fitting for him to be married here,” Katrina said
“I can’t imagine him getting married anywhere else,” added Eme. “Sports are basically his life.”
The unconventional setting called for some adjustments. The music needed to feature “less flute and violins” and more oomph than a traditional church affair. They picked Louis Armstrong and the Black Eyed Peas, with the wedding party walking in to the theme from the western “The Magnificent Seven.”
The groom and groomsmen wore ties in Packer green. Steve Swiontek, a friend of the couple, said there was some scheming among guests to wear football official shirts, but they dropped the plan.
Originally the ceremony was to take place under the goal posts, by the scoreboard – framing the festivities in an arch of sorts. But in May, a gust of wind blew off one of the goal posts during a track meet. That’s how the ceremony migrated to the 50-yard line.
The change worked out fine, Jonas said: “For everyone attending, it’s a great view.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mila Koumpilova at (701) 241-5529