Will: “When I first saw Melissa, she has a really angelic appearance, even with a bathing cap on. She also had perfect stroke style, and she had a U. of I. swimsuit. I assumed that this beautiful girl was on the swim team, and totally knew what she was doing. So I figured there was no downside to asking her for tips on how I could get better. It turned out she wasn’t on the swim team, she was on the water polo team.”
Melissa: “We initially met, and kept seeing each other at the swimming pool. I thought he was cute and funny. Then he asked me on our first date.”
Will: “My roommate was the MC of India Night. At the time, it was a really big celebration in April (sponsored by the India Student Association) and my roommate gave me tickets to the second row. I had to support him and I needed a date. Fortunately, I ran into Melissa and I asked her straight up, ‘Do you want to go to India Night?’ That was our first date and we’ve been together ever since. That was almost 17 years ago.
“Melissa was a native of Urbana, so it was really cool because I had felt like I knew Champaign-Urbana after four years, but I really didn’t. There were all kinds of places that she took me that I’ve never been, like a breakfast joint in Urbana or a crazy pirate-themed pizza restaurant.”
Melissa: “Oh yeah, the Jolly Roger.”
“He graduated before me and I was finishing up my last two years (at Illinois), and he was traveling off and on. He went to Venezuela to teach English … he went and traveled in South America and came back. I graduated and moved up to Chicago with you.
Will: “We kind of kept the relationship going long distance for a while. I didn’t know what was going to happen, if we were going to stay together or not, but I really missed her. She had been talking about going to study abroad in Spain. I was like, ‘Oh, you got to do that. I’ll come visit you and stay with a friend who still lives there, and then I’ll find a place to teach English in Europe.’ So I went and did that. We hung out together for a month, and she’d come and visit me every couple of weeks in Italy.
“When it happened, I don’t think either of us was expecting to meet our future partner. I was going to graduate in three months, and I didn’t know if I’d be around or not. Because Melissa is such a kind sweet person I couldn’t help falling in love with her and stay with her.”
After first meeting at the IMPE (now Campus Recreation Center) swimming pool, Will (LAS ’99) and Melissa Calkins (LAS ’99) eventually married in 2004 and now live outside of Boulder, Colo. Melissa, who majored in both psychology and Spanish at Illinois, is a first grade teacher and Will, a history and Spanish major, works as a director of marketing. They have two boys, Connor and Liam.
Listen to Will and Melissa's story. For the entire #ILLINOISlove playlist, listen here.
To read more #ILLINOISlove stories:
Doug and Vanessa
Stephanie and Brandon
Lucia and Peter
Pat and Dick
Amber and Dwayne
Ted and Gillian
Patrik and Lindsey
Bryan and Annick