Katie and Ryan Knapke

Hear Us Roar

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How and when did your relationship begin? KATIE: We first met in kindergarten but neither of us remembers that far back. We found out when we came across a picture of us together with our teacher, Mrs. Edmonds and a get-well note Ryan’s mom saved that I had written when he was sick. After kindergarten, Ryan transferred to St. Francis Catholic School and I stayed at the public school. We didn’t meet again until the summer going into seventh grade. We both went with mutual friends to a church youth group weekend and I remember Ryan showed up in his baseball uniform and I thought he was so cute! I always tried to sit next to him, and of course, my best friends knew I had a huge crush on him so they helped set us up!
Ryan: We first met in Mrs. Edmunds’ kindergarten class and didn’t re-meet until middle school, when we both attended a friend’s youth retreat. Shortly after the retreat, I gave her a necklace I wore with my initials and asked her out to the movies.

Do you still have any keepsakes from back then? Katie: I’ll be the first to say that I have a serious hoarding problem when it comes to keepsakes and sentimental items. I saved all of our notes in a box, along with pictures, ticket stubs to concerts, school dances and movies. I even have a scrapbook dedicated to newspaper articles from when we both played high school sports. But one of my favorite things I kept is a fake Frankie Bones menu that Ryan made when he asked me to prom. It’s always fun to look back through all of those memories immediately come flooding back!
Ryan: Katie keeps everything. We would write notes during class and exchange them in the hallways at school. She has a ton of them in a box in the closet. We also would make mix tapes for each other on burned CDs, which we recently converted to mp3. She kept a lot of my sports clippings from the newspaper and made a collage out of them.

Tell about a physical trait that your spouse taught you to love about yourself—something you didn’t realize was beautiful until he/she pointed it out.  Katie: I used to be self-conscious of my smile because it’s so big (I always joke that you can see more of my gums than teeth sometimes), but one day I saw the picture of me that Ryan uses as the caller ID on his phone. I laughed because I thought the picture was horrible. Ryan instantly grabbed his phone and said it was his favorite picture of me because of my smile and how happy I looked. I haven’t thought twice about smiling ever since.
Ryan: My graying hair. She pokes fun at them but thinks they are cute.

What is one thing you understand or know about your spouse that no one else does? Katie: Ryan is so smart and I don’t even think he realizes it sometimes! He has an amazing sense of direction and memory, and he always dominates when we battle each other watching Jeopardy. I don’t think many people know that Ryan went back to USCB to finish his undergrad degree. He’s been taking classes while working over the past two years and is almost ready to graduate. I am so proud of all his hard work and dedication!
Ryan: Her competitiveness. Most people don’t see it because she is the nicest, most kind person you can meet, but underneath she is super competitive. It’s not a negative, she just wants to excel at everything, from work to CycleBar; she wants to be the best. With me, we compete at everything from Jeopardy to any game we play.

How do you know when you meet your soul mate? Katie: I think it’s the feeling that you’ve found your best friend. I know I can be myself around Ryan and he will never judge me. He’s the first person I run to tell a funny story or exciting news and the one I can lean on when times are tough. He always laughs at my jokes, tests my new recipes and is right there next to me when I’m trying to cross something off my bucket list. He hates heights but braved a hot air balloon ride with me last year! Life and marriage are both incredibly amazing and hard. We certainly aren’t perfect but I couldn’t imagine going through all of life’s moments, the good and the bad, with anyone else.
Ryan: I think you have met your soul mate when you can be the person you are with no fear of judgment or feeling a need to change. They accept your great qualities and your flaws and love you unconditionally either way.

How did Ryan propose? Katie: In 2014, we went on a last minute dream vacation with Ryan’s grandparents to Maui and getting engaged was the last thing I expected. We had talked about marriage but I didn’t think he would propose until later the next year but little did I know he snuck the ring with him in his backpack and had it hidden in the safe in his grandparents’ hotel room. On the second to last day of our trip, we woke up very early and started the Road to Hana trek; it’s absolutely beautiful! We ventured on some of the hiking trails, swam in waterfalls, and ended the day at the black sand beaches. We hiked to the top of the cliff overlooking the water and I turned around and Ryan was down on one knee! The next few minutes were a blur and I immediately started crying as soon as he said, “Will you marry me.” I think I was in a bit of shock, plus I was worried he would fall! As soon as he stood up, I ran to hug him and noticed that his knee was bleeding. I felt so badly he got a cut from all of the lava rocks, but made for a funny ending to the story.

How did Katie react to the proposal? Ryan: She was surprisingly calm. Very excited for sure and a few tears, but nothing hysterical. Katie is always very calm and level headed, but she may have been tipped off by one of our friends who I shouldn’t name— Ashley Schilling, who texted me “have you asked her yet?” while Katie was using my phone.

How has marriage added to your relationship? Katie: I think marriage challenged us to officially become a team, to make decisions together and do what’s in the best interest of our family. One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned so far was actually during marriage counseling. Our Pastor challenged us to read a book called The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, and we had to take a quiz at the end. The goal was for us to understand the ways we give and receive love. We found out we were completely opposite but are now more aware of each other’s love language and make a conscious effort to do little things for each other.
Ryan: Katie has always been the more analytical and more precise one in our relationship, and that has started to rub off on me. I have always been the more fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, adventurous one, which has rubbed off on her. So, I think we have a good balance and marriage has helped facilitate that.

What song best describes your relationship? Katie: Here is a classic example of how indecisive I can be: My sentimental side says either “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran, “Never Wanted Nothing More” by Kenny Chesney, or “Everything” by Michael Bublé, but the fun side says “Beetle” by Run River North. A couple of years ago we drove down to Ponte Vedra Beach, FL to see the Goo Goo Dolls and Run River North opened for them. I liked a few of their songs and convinced Ryan to buy their CD and it turns out it was the best $10 we’ve spent. “Beetle” is our go to song for the best dance or car jam sessions. We could be having a horrible day and that song instantly brightens the mood and makes us laugh! It just reminds me we can be ourselves around each other and how much fun we have just enjoying the simple things.
Ryan: “The Good Stuff” by Kenny Chesney

What do you wish you were better at in terms of loving your spouse? Katie: I can be very impatient at times and sometimes struggle with communication. I used to let things that bothered me bottle-up, but I’ve been making an effort to work on both of those things.
Ryan: Katie does a lot for us—things like making sure bills are paid, taxes are filled out and dogs are getting to the vet if they need to go. I would like to be more proactive in those areas to alleviate some of the stresses and give her some more time to relax and not worry about things like that.

Name a dream that you have for the future? Katie: The first year we got married we decided to call it the “year of fun,” which meant taking adventures, going on trips, and living life to the fullest while we’re still only a family of two. We had so much fun that we decided to extend the “year of fun” for another year. I’ve always dreamed of traveling the world and there are a few countries in Europe that are at the top of my list so we’re hoping to plan a trip together this year. As a couple, I think one day we would love to have a family! Ryan is so great with kids now and I know he will be an amazing father when the time comes.
Ryan: I recently started a new career and would like to grow in that area. As a couple, a goal would be to start a family. Maybe not this year, but next year would be great to think about having kids.

What are you currently roaring about? Katie: The Clemson Tigers National Championship win! Ryan and I both went to Clemson and have traveled near and far to watch our Tigers. I’m a diehard Clemson fan so bringing home the National Championship this year was the best!
Ryan: I’m definitely roaring about Clemson football. Katie and I both went to school at Clemson and are super into college football. The vast majority of my friends from HHI went to USC, so it’s great that we get to hold that over their heads for the next year.