How Student Athletes Sydney and Tate Found Time for Spring Romance

a collage of a couple (sydney & tate) with a sunset in the background

I spoke to Amherst rising sophomores Sydney and Tate one summer afternoon, as they sat side-by-side in Tate’s bedroom in North Carolina. Both student athletes on the same swim and dive team, Sydney and Tate went into the Marriage Pact expecting little — yet they emerged with a teammate, partner, and unyielding source of support during a jam-packed, unpredictable semester.

Shortly after filling out the survey last fall, they checked their inboxes to see familiar initials.

Sydney: We’re on the same team, but we didn’t really know each other that well because the season hadn’t started. But I texted him after we got the initials, and I said, “Tate, I have a feeling about who my Marriage Pact is.”

Tate: I thought it was you too, because I didn’t know anyone with the same initials.

Sydney: And then it was confirmed a few days later.

While Sydney dives and Tate swims, the two say their teams overlap constantly, comprising a larger community of athletes.

Sydney: I think we were the only matches on the team. Everyone was talking about it, like, “Oh my gosh, who’d you get?” And it was really funny that we had gotten a teammate.

I asked them who reached out first upon receiving their match.

Sydney: Oh, it was definitely me. The first thing I found out was that he was from North Carolina and I’m from South Carolina, so that was funny. We also had some people we knew in common. But we just chatted over text.

Tate: It was so funny because we had been talking for like a week, max, and then —

Sydney: It was like two weeks, give us some credit.

Tate: Okay, okay, fine. But Sydney was doing a team lift and got a hernia.

Sydney: And the day before we hung out in person for the first time, I had been in the ER all night. So that was definitely a talking point. It’s kind of what kicked things off.

Though Sydney’s injury did come with a silver lining, it meant an unfortunate surgery with a two week recovery over Thanksgiving break. Once Sydney was healthy, the pair reunited for finals week before parting ways again for the holidays.

Sydney: We didn’t talk a ton over Thanksgiving since I was recovering, but we kept in touch over text during the entire winter break.

Sydney and Tate say things really took off during the first two weeks of spring semester.

Sydney: There weren’t any in-person classes in January, but all the winter athletes were on campus together, so that’s when we got really close and hung out a bunch.

Tate: That’s when we started officially dating.

Sydney: I think the fact that we were on the same team really helped us connect. It gave us some common ground to talk about, for sure.

Tate: And the fact that I already knew who you were before the Marriage Pact was a plus.

Sydney: Right? If you didn’t know who I was, you probably wouldn’t have responded. Or maybe you would have.

The couple say their similarities extend far beyond their swim and dive team. They describe their shared value for strong familial relationships, academic goals in overlapping STEM fields, and a love of fitness — though they don’t foresee a future career in athletics.

Sydney: I need to retire after college. My body needs it.

Tate: Yeah, I swim D3, unfortunately there’s not too much future for me.

Nonetheless, they remark that their high compatibility score came as somewhat of a surprise.

Sydney: We actually could not be more different, even though we were a 99.8 percent match. He’s much more low-key and chill, and I’m a little more…

Tate: Hardcore.

Sydney: Yeah, I’m just much more serious than he is. We definitely compliment each other. Like, when I’m fuming about something that doesn’t really matter, he’s like, “Does this actually matter?”

It’s definitely helpful. Although sometimes, I’m like, “Tate, can you just be mad at this person, please?”

Luckily, their classic Type A and Type B match helped provide some balance in the midst of a chaotic semester.

Tate: Sydney keeps me on a schedule.

Sydney: It’s funny — Tate reminds me that I need to take time for myself and have fun, but —

Tate: Sometimes I can have a little too much fun.

Sydney: Yeah, and I remind him that he has a lab report due tomorrow. So it works out.

Striking a balance between work, practice, and fun is essential for Sydney and Tate, whose unforgiving schedules don’t leave much free time.

Sydney: We don’t practice at the same time. So when we’re in school, we don’t see each other a ton. It’s pretty busy.

Tate: But we would always find time at least once a day.

Sydney: Yeah, when we weren’t at the pool, we’d eat a meal together, or just hang out at the library, or stop by to say goodbye before going to class. Tate is just a very kind person. Whenever I was struggling, he always made time to support me and listen to me. You can just tell he truly cares when you’re talking to him.

Despite the onslaught on practices and classes, Sydney and Tate look back on their spring quarter fondly. Sydney notes one especially memorable — albeit unfortunate — highlight.

Sydney: We both got COVID. It was fun, actually. We both went to this abandoned hotel that the school had bought out.

Tate: I mean, I wouldn’t say it was necessarily a highlight…

Sydney: Well I thought it was fun. We just hung out with all the COVID kids on our team, and watched a bunch of movies, played kickball outside, and ordered food and stuff. It was also air conditioned, which was a big thing. Our dorms aren’t, and it was super hot.

Before wrapping our conversation, I asked Sydney and Tate if they’d take the Marriage Pact again.

Sydney: We were just talking about this. I think it would be funny.

Tate: But I was like, “What if we don’t get each other again?” And you said, “Well, I could just take it again!”

Sydney: Yeah, I’d also just do it again to make a friend. But we could get each other again. Who knows.