Full circle. That’s the best way Molly Melton can explain her love story with Chase Clounch.
They met on the basketball court. Melton has been point guard on UTC’s women’s team for the past four years; Clounch was the team manager for four years and also is nephew of Head Coach Katie Burrows.
And that’s where the love story circles back around. On Dec. 8, Clounch walked out on the basketball court in McKenzie Arena and—in full view of her teammates and family members from both sides of the aisle—got down on one knee and asked her to marry him.
Totally shocked, at first she crouched over with hands on her knees, smiling with tears in her eyes, before standing up straight. When he opened the ring box, she nodded. “Yes.”
“Once again, full circle. We are getting married in Patten Chapel at UTC,” she says.
The truth is, though, neither really noticed the other until Melton, an exercise science major planning to graduate in May, hurt her knee last December.
After her injury, she was stuck on the sidelines for several games, but she showed up to every practice “with a smile on her face, a great attitude and was still encouraging and ‘coaching up’ her teammates,” says Clounch, who graduated from UTC in May with a degree in mechanical engineering.
“I remember thinking, ‘There may be something to this girl.’ ”
He started talking with her whenever he could, especially about any Alabama team playing on TV. He figured it was a smooth move because, even though he’s not an Alabama fan, Melton is. But she never picked up on his romantic overtures, she says. Clounch, on the other hand, thought he was picking up signals from her.
After the season ended in the spring, and with Burrows’ blessing, he asked her on a date. Surprised and not sure what the date might bring, she agreed.
After months of dating, Clounch took the the old-fashioned step of asking her family for its blessing, then spent three weeks planning his marriage proposal. With the help of Burrows, he set it in motion.
While it seemed like a normal practice day to Melton, a few things were different from the routine. Practice was held in McKenzie Arena instead of the team’s usual facility at the Lawson Center. Burrows also had the team end practice with a half-court drill to divert Melton’s attention.
The two families close behind, Clounch walked onto the court carrying a basketball with “Will You Marry Me?” written on it. The team was facing in the opposite direction, but they all turned around at the same time to a chorus of screams and laughter when they saw Clounch.
After the team moved away to give them room, Clounch reached into his pocket, pulled out the ring and, getting down on one knee, asked his best friend to marry him. When Melton nodded “Yes,” the arena filled with cheers. A moment later, someone yelled “Hugs!” and the team mobbed the couple. High above, the arena’s video board played a photo montage of the couple’s dating history
“Seeing the man I am going to marry with all of our family and friends watching. It was really perfect and special for everybody,” Melton says.
What she loves most about Clounch is his “heart for people,” she says. “He’s the most unselfish person I know.”
From his side, Clounch says Melton “is a constant reminder to me that God is always in control, and that he has a plan for my life.”
“She loves me so well, way better than I’ll ever deserve, and I’m so thankful for her,” he says.
Although she’s losing Melton as a basketball player, Burrows says she’s excited to be gaining her as a niece.
“We love Molly and are thrilled that she will be joining our family,” Burrows says.