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Penn State Love Stories: Behind The Scenes Of James Franklin’s Role In Viral Proposal

A trip to State College for a 7-on-7 football tournament took an interesting turn for one couple last month.

Penn State alum and lifelong fan Stephanie Henry accompanied her then-boyfriend Frank Curreri, a defensive coordinator at Calvert Hall College High School in Maryland, on a trip to Happy Valley for a summer tournament his team was playing in. Little did Henry know, this thrilling trip to her favorite place on Earth would end up becoming so much more than watching a couple games that more closely resemble something you’d watch in a schoolyard than in Beaver Stadium.

The lucky couple got to experience one of the happiest moments in their lives in Happy Valley, when Curreri proposed to Henry with the help of James Franklin.

Before Franklin could dish out the assist and Curreri could drop to one knee, this scheme required a month’s worth of game-planning. Everything would need to align at the perfect time, in the perfect place for it to work out.

Curreri first got the idea while sitting at his dinner table a few weeks before he popped the question. He immediately began pulling connections to set up this dream proposal.

“I reached out to my head coach, Donald Davis, and I just started having these ideas of ‘I wonder if we can actually pull this off,'” Curreri said. “It went from a thought to a text message and I asked him, ‘Here’s what I’m thinking. Do you think we can actually pull this off?'”

Curreri and Davis began using their connections at Calvert Hall and Penn State to see what they could do. Calvert Hall has sent three of their players to Penn State since 2011, two of whom are in the NFL today.

Davis then reached out to Michael Hazel, the Nittany Lions’ director of football operations.

The day before the tournament, Curreri went to sign his team in at Beaver Stadium. While there, he met with Hazel to come up with a plan. Hazel indicated that Franklin would be more than happy to be involved in this big moment.

Franklin would drive in on a golf cart and surprise Calvert Hall, but approach Henry with a special delivery to make. At the moment, Curreri would drop down to one knee.

Curreri couldn’t have come up with a more fitting way to propose to Henry, who graduated from Penn State in 2007 and fondly remembers many cold nights camped out in *Paternoville during her time at Penn State. It’s those types of memories that made Beaver Stadium the perfect backdrop for her engagement.

“More than anything, I love the energy that is in the air on a football Saturday morning,” Henry said. “Even when we would just walk through downtown and around campus on our way to Beaver Stadium, we were literally surrounded by 106,000 friends all over the place. I’ve never felt such a strong sense of camaraderie than when I was at Penn State.”

When she came to town for the tournament, Henry never expected to meet Franklin, and especially not in such a unique and personal way.

“As the whole thing went down, I could see Coach Franklin on a golf cart doing a bunch of stuff,” she said. “I saw him get off the golf cart and start walking on the field and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh Coach Franklin is 30 feet away from me.'”

Needless to say, she was soon blown away and that familiar Penn State camaraderie was brought back on a more intimate level when Franklin directly handed the box to Curreri and the entire team erupted into cheers when he dropped to one knee.

The couple met through dating apps in October of 2018. On the night of their first date, they went to one of their favorite restaurants and talked for hours about two things that would end up bonding them so close together: football and family.

Although the engagement is only a few weeks old, Curreri and Henry have already decided that Coach Franklin is getting a personal invitation to the wedding.

Their wedding hashtag, #WeAreHallIn even brings together Henry’s love for Penn State and Curreri’s football team at Calvert Hall.

“Everything had to come together in a certain way for this to work out. Coach Franklin had to be in the spot at the same time the team was, at the same time that I was in the same spot,” Henry said. “It just had to all come together like the most perfect play ever. Like a Hail Mary at the end of a game.”

A word of advice courtesy of Franklin, although a football coach and fan likely don’t need this reminder: Please no fall weddings.

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About the Author

Ryen Gailey

Ryen is a senior early childhood education major from "right outside of Philly" - or in exact words, from 23.0 miles outside of Philly. She loves all things Penn State and has been a huge Penn State gal since before she could walk. Send her pictures of puppies, or hate mail at [email protected]

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