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Beaver Stadium Engagement: An Onward State Love Story

On Sep. 27, 2014, Penn State alumni Michael Berton and Kari Haffelfinger got engaged on the field at Beaver Stadium. This is their Penn State (and Onward State) story.


How They Met

Michael was on a trip home from Penn State during Spring Break 2011. Kari was a senior, and Michael was a junior. At this point in their lives, both of them were writers for Onward State, yet they hadn’t formally met.

“She knew that I was the ‘football guy,’ but I didn’t know she was a photographer,” Michael recalled.

First Impressions

With fate doing its work, Kari stayed at Penn State an extra semester, and the two finally hit it off. For Michael, it was love at first sight.

“Honestly, I fell for Kari in about five minutes. She was cute and funny, and she was so easy to get along with,” he said. “Sadly, however, she had a boyfriend at the time. Over the next eight to nine months, we grew to become good friends. It helped that she was already good friends with Mike Jen.”

Jen is Michael’s best friend and knew Kari from their work together at the Student Red Cross Club.

“It also helped that I got to constantly pester her for sports photos for my articles on Onward State,” Michael said.

In the fall of 2012, Kari broke up with her boyfriend, and as Michael said “finally started liking me back.” Their first date was on Dec. 1, 2012. The rest is history.


The Proposal

Michael chose to propose at Beaver Stadium due to the significant value the home of Penn State football held for them. For him, it was his work as the Nittany Lions football beat writer for Onward State during 2011 and 2012. Michael still has the same passion for Penn State sports that he did in college. Kari was an avid member of the Blue Band and spent Saturdays playing the fight song and alma mater in the Beaver Stadium bleachers.

It didn’t take long for Michael to arrange a way to get on the field with Kari for the proposal. It was planned for the Homecoming Weekend game against Northwestern. Kari was there to participate in the Alumni Blue Band during the post-game show. All Michael had to do was get a game ticket and permission from management.

When he first called to ask about field access, Michael was told that it wasn’t a possibility, but the stadium contact was swayed upon hearing the reason behind his request. He got the permission and was even given a recommendation of the perfect spot to propose. On the big day, Michael was surprisingly calm.

“I wasn’t nervous at all about asking Kari to marry me. I was much more nervous about asking her parents,” he said. “But as the miserable game slogged on, I felt more and more nervous excitement. I remember getting angry and annoyed at every stoppage in play since I just wanted it to be the end of the game already.”

The game was over and the stadium had nearly cleared out when Michael made the move that he and Kari will remember forever.

“I had told Kari that I wanted to get a picture with her at field level after the game,” he said. “Our mutual friend happened to be at the game as well, so I brought a nice camera and she kindly agreed to take pictures. Kari came over not suspecting anything. We posed to take a picture, then I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me. After what seemed like ten minutes of her being shocked, she finally said yes!”

The next day, Michael found himself completely sunburnt. After spending a whole day sitting in the North End Zone, he realized that with all the excitement he had forgotten sunscreen. His closing thoughts after his engagement day included elation and fear — not of the future, but the fact that he was going to “look like a lobster in all our proposal photos.”

Congratulations Kari and Michael!


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About the Author

Brandilyn Heckman

is a junior majoring in Secondary Education (English). Though she commutes to class from her home in Penns Valley, she refuses to be called a 'townie.' Along with Onward State, she currently interns with the Centre Daily Times. In her spare time, she is unafraid to show her love for Penn State, Landon Donovan, and Captain America. You can follow her on twitter at @Brandilynh or contact her via email with [email protected].”

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