A school's cheer squad coach was surprised when her students went off-script and held up four signs during a routine that read, “Will you marry me?” She was even more surprised to realize that the display was for her.
Natalie Earthman is a first-year tenth-grade English teacher and cheerleading coach at East Central High School (ECHS) in San Antonio, Texas. Her attachment to the job is unique; not only does Earthman work with "an amazing group of kids who make everything special,” but she's also an alumnus of ECHS, where she was a cheerleader herself.
But she was confused when, on Thursday, her cheerleaders started to perform a routine she hadn't planned.
After the team performed four "prep" stunts, with three girls lifting a fourth into the air, they each held up signs that read together, asked, "Will you marry me?"
"I saw the sign and heard the crowd, but it didn’t register," Earthman tells Yahoo Lifestyle. "I kept thinking, 'What the hell is going on?' and, 'When did we bring signs to cheer with?'"
Then, she saw her boyfriend, Jorge Gutierrez, walk out towards her in the school's mascot costume, a black and yellow striped hornet.
"I don’t know how else to explain it besides as an out of body experience," Earthman says. "I was shocked. It didn’t feel real until I heard my mom scream my name in the stands. Once I saw her, it kind of brought me down to earth and I thought, 'Oh wow, this is real! This is happening.'"
After Gutierrez got down on one knee, Earthman quickly said yes.
The stunt was planned by Gutierrez, with the help of Earthman's assistant coach, Elisa Larson, who Gutierrez messaged on Facebook to figure out the best way to surprise his future wife.
"I’ve been thinking about it for quite a while. Natalie spends a lot of her time and is very involved with her cheerleaders. I knew asking her in front of them with her family there as well would mean the most to her," Gutierrez tells Yahoo. "All I knew was that I wanted to be in the mascot costume, Larson and the cheerleaders really helped with putting the rest together. It was perfect."
Two days before, Gutierrez also reached out to Earthman's mother, to ask her for permission and to invite her to be in the stands on the night of the proposal.
"She recruited the rest of my closest family. My cousins, great aunts and uncles, and his siblings, mom and dad were all there in the stands at the railing when I looked up," Earthman says. "It was magical."
Earthman and Gutierrez met last summer and soon after, realized they were falling quickly in love.
"We were just going out on dates for fun... It’s very cliché when people say they fell in love at first sight, but it’s true. We were glued to one another. [It is] proof love has no timelines to follow," Earthman says. "[Gutierrez] has two beautiful sons, Luke, three, and Georgie, five, that I now get to call my own as well."
Earthman says that the proposal was the most "meaningful moment of my life thus far."
"I don’t know what I did to deserve, Jorge, but I plan on keeping him forever," Earthman says.
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