By Sara Gaynes Levy
When Nichelle, from Toronto, Canada, graduated from college in 2017, she moved to Houston, Texas. After an impressive college soccer career—including winning a bronze medal with the Canadian women’s national team in the 2016 Olympics—she had been offered a spot on the Houston Dash, the city’s professional women’s soccer team. But she didn’t know anyone in Houston, so downloaded Bumble. Nichelle wasn’t looking for anything serious, but she thought she might be able to meet some people in her new city. Within the first week, she spotted Adrian’s profile. “Obviously, I thought he was cute,” she says. But she also liked that he worked in a nontraditional field: Adrian is a musician. “I was around athletes a lot in college, and I didn’t really step outside that,” says Nichelle. “I thought it would be fun to meet Adrian, who was doing something completely different.” She swiped right.
Adrian was also intrigued by Nichelle’s job. “I thought it was really cool she was a pro soccer player,” says Adrian. He even subscribed to Bumble Premium to SuperSwipe on Nichelle’s profile so she knew he was really interested. But unlike Nichelle, he wasn’t on Bumble to casually connect with new people and see if he hit it off with anyone. “I got on the app looking for a wife,” Adrian says. And so immediately after they matched—Nichelle had only said “hi”—Adrian suggested they meet. “Our second message, I said ‘let’s get coffee,’” recalls Adrian. He didn’t want small talk; he was looking for a real connection. With Nichelle’s busy schedule, she actually appreciated the forward approach. “Honestly, if we had been texting for weeks, it probably would have died out,” she says. “I was like sure, why not?”
So, they met for coffee. Nichelle remembers the date being fun and easy—Adrian talked a lot, taking some of the pressure off her, and she felt like he asked good questions about her and her life. Adrian admits now that he may have had an agenda. “I was kind of interviewing her!” he says. “Asking things like ‘where do you see yourself in 10 years?’ Like I said, I was looking for a wife!” He liked Nichelle, and her answers, but Adrian had made post-date emergency plans with a friend to get sushi in case he wanted to escape. Luckily, the date went well, but he still went to meet his friend anyway. “I remember telling him ‘man, she’s perfect,’” Adrian says. He and his friend spent their dinner planning Adrian and Nichelle’s second date, which happened a few days later at an art museum. “Since then, we’ve been inseparable,” says Nichelle.
Well, kind of inseparable. They were texting and talking nonstop, but it was still a little wobbly to get a new relationship off the ground when one of you is traveling on a professional soccer team and the other is a musician working weekends and late nights. In fact, says Nichelle, for the first couple of months, they weren’t even referring to one another as boyfriend and girlfriend. When Adrian asked if he could introduce her as his girlfriend to some friends, Nichelle was nervous. She wanted him to really understand that being a professional soccer player could mean a lot of time apart: in addition to traveling for away games, she could end up on a different team in another city. She remembers telling him, “I don’t want to make you commit to something that might get difficult.” Adrian didn’t bat an eye. “He was 100 percent committed,” she says.
In fact, Nichelle says his confidence in their relationship has been one of the best things about being with him: “I’ve never had to guess if he liked me. There was never any confusion about what he wanted out of the relationship.” Adrian was confident, he says, but he still would get “crazy anxiety” every time there was a National Women’s Soccer League draft, worried Nichelle would get traded to another team far away. “But once I realized our relationship was solid enough to last through something like that, I was fine,” he says.
Their confidence in their partnership has allowed them to be each other’s biggest cheerleaders, even though before they started dating they knew nothing about one another’s respective worlds. “I think the best thing about our relationship is our unconditional support for one another,” says Nichelle. “We both have tough careers that are very demanding and publicly critiqued. So to have someone by your side who believes in you no matter what and helps you reach your goals is really something special.” Adrian agrees, and he’s gone from being clueless about women’s soccer to not only being a super fan, but being someone who understands how to love and support a partner playing high-level, high-stress athletics. “If there’s a bad loss or a bad game, I know not to offer advice, but to just love her,” he says. “If it’s a great game, I just offer encouragement.”
Similarly, Nichelle didn’t know much about the live entertainment scene before she met Adrian, who plays primarily at corporate events, weddings, and galas in the Houston area. “What I’ve always loved about Adrian is how passionate he is,” she says. “It’s so cool to see the person you love doing what they love. Seeing how passionate he is about what he loves to do helps me stay passionate about what I love to do.” And not just that, Nichelle says, but Adrian helps her stay grounded: “He brings out the balance in me, too. He allows me to see that there’s more to life than our careers and the most important thing is to enjoy life with the people you love.”
The support Adrian and Nichelle offer one another was never more obvious than during the summer of 2021, when Nichelle got the opportunity to play for her home country of Canada on their Olympic soccer team in the Tokyo games—and won gold. “Since I met him, that had been a goal I had,” she says. “The first few years we were together, there wasn’t an Olympics or a World Cup or any chance for him to see me perform on a big level.” And Adrian says getting to watch it happen was every bit as thrilling as it sounds. “To see it come to fruition, and see her get to that point after following for years, it was so cool,” he says. “I was on cloud nine.”
After she returned home from the Games, at the end of summer 2021, Adrian had a big plan to celebrate. “He had a gig coming up, and he told me ‘I know your mom will be in town, and she’s never seen me play. I really want you all to come,’” Nichelle says. “I had a game the next day, and I wanted to be in bed! But he never asks for stuff like this, so I said okay.” At the show, Adrian called Nichelle up to the stage. “He got on the mic and was like ‘My girlfriend is here, and she just won an Olympic gold medal!’ I thought he was just joking around to embarrass me.” But once Nichelle made her way to the front, Adrian began to sing a song he had written three years before, for their first anniversary. And then he dropped to one knee and proposed to her. And then it turned out all of her family, not just her mom, and all of his family were there. “It was really special,” says Nichelle. “I was so happy all our families were there.”
The couple is planning a winter 2022 wedding. Nichelle says she couldn’t have asked for a better outcome from that first and only Bumble date. “I would never have met someone like Adrian outside of Bumble,” she says. “But Bumble has made it possible for us to meet, and thereʼs no better feeling than to have a supporting and loving partner that is there through our highs and lows.” she says. Adrian couldn’t be happier that he did, in fact, find his wife. “I’m just so grateful,” he says. “It all worked out.”
Main photo credit: Martin Hernandez Photography