Hillacy and Nick's Bowling Ball + Elephant Proposal

How we met: Hillacy and I actually met through Facebook. It all started with a simple friend request and a “hey” sent the morning of February 23, 2011.

First Conversaion with pic

From that moment we started the friendship I knew it would last forever. Only living 7 miles apart we lived two completely different lifestyles. We went to different schools, had different friends, and even played different sports. After meeting for the first time, I knew she was the one. On our first date we went out for a night out on the town and she was completely different than any other girl I ever dated. She was the one. A few years went by and we became more and more in love. Our lives become closer and closer until I graduated college the same day she graduated from a different college, both colleges were in our home town. That summer I found my dream job as a Research Engineer for a bowling ball manufacturer and she got accepted into the university I graduated from, but the locations were hundreds of miles apart.

That would only mean we would either have to break up or become a long distance relationship. Well, there was no way we were breaking up over a few hundred miles. After 40,000 miles of driving over a year span and many memories we will cherish forever she graduated college again with her Bachelors in Science: Biology. I had never been more proud of her than the moment she walked across that stage. The moment I had been calmly waiting on had arrived, she was finally able to move to Kentucky and we could live happily ever after.

Before she graduated there had been small talk regarding marriage and life after she graduated but I kept telling her I would propose soon. Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months and she became leery if I was ever going to ask her to marry me. I kept telling her there was a “Plan.

how they asked: There was a plan, there always was a plan.

I began planning the “plan” about 7 months before the proposal actually happened. The plan was to propose on our 3 year anniversary but, the increasing complexity of the plan made it impossible to propose that soon. There was fabrication of bowling balls that had to be done, training of animals, and the timing had to be just right.

The “Plan” in 7 steps.

Step 1: Design a Proposal Graphic to put on the inside of a clear bowling ball.

Step 2: Make the inside of the bowling ball with the Proposal Graphic on it.

Step 3: Pour the clear bowling ball material around the Proposal Graphic and Finish the bowling ball.

Step 4: Train an African Elephant to hand Hillacy the bowling ball.

Step 5: Convince Hillacy we were going to the Zoo and that it wasn’t going to be the proposal.

Step 6: Go to the zoo.

Step 7: Propose. Done.

Did I mention I had to train an African Elephant?!?!?

From the beginning I knew I wanted bowling to be part of the proposal as it has been my life passion since I had been bowling in league since I was 3 years old, and it was a huge part of our relationship as I am now an engineer for a bowling ball manufacturer. But I also wanted to include Hillacy’s passion for Animals. So how do I merge animals and bowling?

Proposal Ball

Proposal Ball Back

The only way I knew fitting was to have an animal bring her the Proposal Bowling Ball. I contacted the Nashville Zoo with my idea of the proposal and the planning process began. After several trips to the Zoo the plan was set and they began training an African Elephant to carry a bowling ball. After having issues holding on the the ball itself we had to come up with a better and more confident way of carrying a bowling ball. Alternatively, I had a custom pink bowling bag made to hold the bowling ball allowing the elephant to carry the ball successfully. Training the elephant took over 2 weeks to complete. By now it was just a few weeks before the proposal on July 4th, 2014.

Once the elephant was trained and the ball was done, I only had to complete steps 5, 6, and 7. Step 5 was to convince Hillacy that the day of the proposal, was not the actual day of the proposal. She had always been trying to figure it out. And I just kept telling her “The proposal will come when you least expect it.” So, to keep Hillacy from suspecting anything I had to pull someone in on the plan. I went with her mom. I told her mom the whole plan of the proposal and she was more than happy to keep a secret for a few more days. Hillacy’s parents get tickets to go places all the time through their work. So I had the Nashville Zoo mock up a certificate with Hillacy’s parents work as the recipients of the tickets. I sent Hillacy’s Mom the mock certificate for an Access Expedition with the African Elephants at the zoo and had her tell Hillacy that she got free tickets and that they couldn’t go so the tickets were Hillacy’s and mine if we wanted to go. Hillacy was super excited about the tickets, she even changed her phone background to an elephant in excitement. When she called me to tell me the exciting news that we would be going to the zoo to meet elephants, I had to play it off with very little excitement and I had to tell her I was busy at work and was unable to talk about it at the time. But once we got off the phone I was more than excited and thrilled that I may have got her convinced and the plan was going according to plan. This was perfect!

Well, it was perfect until the day before the proposal!

The Thursday night before the proposal, I got a phone call from her while she was at work. She started off by saying she just filled out her first accident report at work and that she was ok. I was super scared and worried about her. I asked what happened and if she needed me to drive 300 miles to be with her. She said no she would be ok and she told me she may have broken a finger…. A finger!? After knowing she was ok, all I could think about was oh gosh, what finger? Was it her ring finger? How do I ask her what finger with out being obvious that the proposal was in 15 hours??? I asked her first if it was her bowling hand… that’s a normal question for bowlers…. it wasn’t her bowling hand. That meant the hurt finger was on her left hand, I began to really worry now. I ask for a photo so I could make sure she was ok and that it wasn’t bad. I received the photo and almost fell out of my chair. IT WAS HER RING FINGER! In the picture her ring finger was all blackened and blue and swollen. For the first time I was truly worried about the proposal. Was she ok? Would the ring fit? Should I hold off the proposal? I asked around all of my friends and it was a 16 to 1 vote to proceed with the proposal. Too much had gone into the proposal to make me turn back now.

That Friday morning of the proposal she drove to Kentucky and we left from there to go to the ZOO. I must have checked my car 10 times to make sure I put the ring in the car with the bag of stuff to bring into the zoo. I was so excited I could barely contain myself. On the way to the Zoo one of my friends sent me a text that said “Do you think the ring will fit?”, I replied “#Shewillmakeitfit”. When we got to the zoo there was a golf cart and two keepers waiting for us. I told Hillacy they would be there because I “called” to make the reservations as the certificate said to do. We got to the Elephant’s area where 4 other keepers were waiting. Hillacy still had no clue this was the proposal! I began recording using my camera and handed it off to a keeper, this was all part of my plan. The keepers were letting us feed the elephants and they were showing us really cool tricks the elephants could do. It all came down to the last trick. The Proposal trick. The keeper signaled the African Elephant to pick up the bowling bag and to bring it to Hillacy. Hillacy was in awe that it had a bowling bag and wanted me to go and get the bag. She grabbed the bag and a keeper told her to open the bag because it was the elephants favorite bowling ball and that is when Hillacy saw the ball. The ball was positioned in a way that had the Proposal facing up. She began to cry. I asked her what was in the bag and she took the ball out of the bag and I asked her to read the ball out loud as I dropped to one knee in front of her.

Screen shot 2014-07-12 at 5.02.39 PM

She was speechless, but was able to still say YES! I went to place the ring on her finger but her finger was still swollen, but not to much where she couldn’t get the ring on. The ring fit! I told you she would make it fit.


Thanks to a lot of help from great people, the proposal was a complete success and it could not have been better!

The ball: Ebonite International | Elephants: Nashville Zoo