Marching to her heart
Instead of leaving the field after its usual halftime performance at Saturday’s game against Rhode Island game, the entire Towson Marching Band took a knee. 2009 alumna Jackie Blinke, the marching band game day coordinator, said she was afraid that she had walked on the field to clean up equipment too early, so she started back to the sidelines. That’s when something caught her eye. Her boyfriend Tim Freeburger walked from the corner of the field, dressed up in a marching band uniform. He approached Blinke, also took to one knee, and the stadium erupted.
“I’ve told her since day one she’d never see me in a marching band uniform,” Freeburger said. “So I figured I’d break my one rule and put on the marching band uniform, surprise her at halftime.”
Blinke and Freeburger had only been dating for seven months before his extravagant proposal, but their story started long before. They first began dating their freshman year of high school, but fell out of touch, Freeburger said. Years later, they bumped into each other at a concert at Rams Head Live! in February. Freeburger said he had no contact with Blinke up to that point and didn’t have any of her contact information.
He said on the ride home that night he messaged her on Facebook, trying to reconnect.
“She messaged me back later that night saying, ‘Maybe, we’ll see,’” he said. “I messaged her and said, ‘Ball’s in your court, here’s my number. If you’d like to text me or call me here’s my number.’ She called me about a week later and I don’t think we’ve spent a night apart since.”
The couple said they have been living together for the past five months and they’ve known they wanted to get married for a while.
“Even though she and I have been dating for a little over seven months since we’ve gotten back, it’s when you know, you know,” Freeburger said. “And we’ve known within the first month of hanging out that we want to spend the rest of our life together.”
Freeburger said coming up with a proposal idea was difficult. Originally, he said he wanted to take her to a Broadway show on her birthday, since she loves musicals, but Blinke shot down his plans when she made it clear she didn’t want it done on her birthday.
“I didn’t want to do Thanksgiving, didn’t want to do Christmas, didn’t want to do New Year’s, but we definitely wanted to do it soon,” he said. “Not that there’s any rush, but we want to be married this summer.”
That was when he came up with the idea of involving the marching band.
Since her time at Towson, Blinke performed with the band and has since stuck around to work on game days.
“Marching band, it’s something she won’t expect, something I know she loves, I mean it’s her second family, it’s what she’s been doing so many years,” Freeburger said.
Blinke said after the halftime show she usually helps move some of the equipment. But that on Saturday, after the show, one of her co-workers told her to move the mixer on the field.
“I went running onto the field and then the whole band just kneels down and all of a sudden I hear ‘God Gave Me You,’ by Blake Shelton coming over the speakers and I see him walk around and I was like, ‘Ohhh,’” Blinke said.
Freeburger said he wasn’t nervous through the whole proposal and that his only fears were that the microphone wouldn’t work or that he’d trip.
“I didn’t rehearse, I didn’t script it, I had no idea up until I took a knee what I was going to say,” he said. “That’s why first thing was just, ‘Hi, sweetie, surprise.’ Everything was just said from my heart. When I was out there, it was just me and her out there.”