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Penn State Love Stories: An Old Sport, A New Love

Club sports is one of the most popular ways to get involved at Penn State — the tight knit community and shared love of a sport provide a home away from home for many students. When Katy Borden first arrived at Penn State, joining the Club Tennis Team did just that. But she had no idea her newfound love for an old sport would spark an even greater connection.

Borden was born and raised in State College, but she chose to take a slightly different path than many of her classmates when she decided to attend St. Joseph’s University to play tennis. However, it wasn’t long before State College beckoned her back home — Borden transferred to Penn State after her those first two years.

Though she had always loved tennis, she wanted her change in schools to be a change of pace.

“[I] was ready to take a break from playing tennis,” Borden said.

But her roommate knew Borden well and, thus, attempted to convince her otherwise. Borden was on the brink of beginning her journey in a completely new environment, and she knew Penn State’s club tennis team was the perfect way for Borden to build a relationship with her new community.

My roommate, who I had known since 9th grade, insisted that the Club Tennis Team was really fun,” Borden said.

Yet, she was hesitant at first – Borden had been fully ready to try something new, and joining the team would entail the exact opposite of what she had told herself previously. But her roommate was increasingly persistent, and Borden eventually agreed to give the sport another try.

At the start of her junior year in 2009, Borden got her first peek at the team’s dynamic when her roommate took her to a party hosted by some of its members. She enjoyed meeting and chatting with multiple members of the team throughout the night and decided to join the club sport full-time. Little did she know that one particular introduction she had that night would change her life immensely later on.

Borden and senior club tennis member Steve Eaglen hit it off when they met at that first party of the year and their friendship blossomed quickly. The two students enjoyed their time spent together in the same social circle, but their friendship remained platonic throughout the year. However, toward the end of the school year, the two teammates experienced a sudden shift in their relationship.

“After spending a lot of time together at practice, tournaments, and just hanging out with our teammates throughout the year, we started to spend a lot more one-on-one time together,” Borden said.

(Photo: Katy Borden)
(Photo: Katy Borden)

Unfortunately, this new phase in the relationship began right before Eaglen graduated from Penn State and moved back home to Pittsburgh to begin a job at Heinz.

Despite the distance, the connection that had been sparked by the love of their favorite sport remained strong. Borden and Eaglen were able to stay in contact as Borden finished her undergraduate studies and Eaglen began his new career. Soon enough, the friendship they had successfully salvaged propelled into something much greater.

“We kept in touch and eventually started dating over that summer,” Borden said. “Steve visited often while I finished my senior year at Penn State.”

In 2011, Borden graduated from Penn State and moved to Pittsburgh herself in order to earn a Doctor of Psychology in School Psychology from Duquesne University. Eaglen chose to attend graduate school as well and obtained his Master of Business Administration from The University of Pittsburgh.

This past summer, the couple embarked on a new journey when they moved to Chicago, IL. In July, Eaglen took the next step in their relationship when he got down on one knee and asked Borden to marry him. They plan to have their wedding in August of 2017 at Penn State’s Arboretum and The Nittany Lion Inn.

Though they love their new Chicago home, the couple will never forget where their love story began.

“We still come back to Penn State as often as possible for football games and are enjoying meeting other Penn Staters out in Chicago!”

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About the Author

Claire Fountas

Claire Fountas is the student life editor for Onward State, as well as a junior pursuing a double major in journalism and psychology. She lives in a suburb of Chicago and strongly disagrees with anyone who hates the Cubs or the Blackhawks (so, pretty much anyone at Penn State). You can follow her @ClaireFountas or email her at [email protected]

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