The Art of Marriage
Jan. 23, 2008
By D. TOM PATTERSON, Pacific Digest Editor - Pacific's only married student-athlete, Bryan LeDuc, and his wife Kendall, have a plaque on a table in the living room of their apartment which reads, "Happiness Is Being Married To Your Best Friend." And therein lies the story.
HE SAID: "From about the sixth grade on, Kendall and I were friends," said Bryan.
SHE SAID: "I had a huge crush on him, and he never knew it," said Kendall. Perhaps he knew more than she thought.
HE SAID: "My freshman year in high school, I set up this date," said Bryan. "Her friends said she had a crush on me, so she was going to be my first kiss." But something happened to Bryan's perfect plan. He didn't tell Kendall. In fact, he didn't tell anyone. "We went to a movie (007 GoldenEye) and I was going to sit by her. I had everything planned. And then she traded seats with a girlfriend. She was so shy she wouldn't sit next to me. I was offended and I thought she just messes with people." SHE SAID: "He had it all planned; he just forgot to tell me what was going on." Kendall laughed out loud and Bryan shook his head at the memory.
Bryan LeDuc is a 23-year-old junior, six-foot-eight inches tall and 210 pounds. And he's a pretty darn good basketball player. Kendall is 23, works three days a week as a teacher's aid for fourth graders at Central Methodist (across the street from Pacific) and also works two days a week as a nanny.
This is a story about their love, their religion, and mixing the most important things in their life with Pacific Athletics. Of an estimated 300 student-athletes, Bryan is the only married student-athlete at Pacific. Why?
"I think a lot of people our age are nervous about such a big commitment," said Bryan, "Some think we are crazy to be married this young. We don't know many our age who are married, and that seems to be the trend." Every marriage comes with challenges. And so does this one. At a time in their 10-month long marriage when they should be getting to know one another, they oftentimes are hoping to simply see one another. A huge part of the lifestyle of any student-athlete centers on time-management-practice, study hall, practice, road trips, practice, home games, practice, weight training. Did someone say newlyweds?
SHE SAID: "When he signed to play here, we knew what we were getting into, that we would be apart a lot. Most people spend lots of time together during their first year of marriage. It's not that way for us and it makes things difficult, but I know he's doing what he loves and I support that in every way. When he's on the road, I drive back home (to Glendora, near Pasadena) because I just don't like being alone."
HE SAID: "It's much harder on her than me. I have a lot of support with coaches and teammates and I'm very busy. But with Kendall, when she isn't working, she's home by herself a lot."
SHE SAID: "The bottom line is I'm excited about what he's doing. I enjoy going to the games and I love to have him talk about the players and the coaches. He shares so much with me."
HE SAID: "This is the first year of our marriage and we're still trying to get to know each other and build a relationship for the rest of our lives." Before we get too far along here, Bryan and Kendall don't want anyone feeling sorry for them. Quite the contrary.
They've got something very special, cemented by religious devotion (Mormon) that they believe will pull them through anything.
It's no coincidence that as a freshman in high school Bryan LeDuc was still waiting for that first kiss and had yet to have a girlfriend.
This guy is so squeaky clean that he shames the genie on every bottle of Mr. Clean. "We were married in a Mormon Temple in Newport Beach and with LDS, you marry for eternity," said Bryan. "It's not just 'til death do us part. It's forever."
In 2003, after a year of college at Utah Valley State, Bryan went on a LDS Mission to Spain. It was a life-changing experience. "I paid my way and we were given $150 a month to live on. That included food and bus tokens. You learn to live with a little. It was one of the greatest things I've ever done. For two years, I was only allowed two phone calls per year-to Mom at Christmas and on Mother's Day." He was allowed to send emails, and that's where he connected with an old friend.
"I had a girlfriend and it didn't work out. All of a sudden an email showed up from Kendall. We started emailing regularly. She sent me an email once a week for two consecutive years. She was my best friend even though we never talked once during those two years."
That "crush" from years before had come full circle.
"The first email was probably the most we ever had communicated about anything," said Kendall. "I was always shy and he was the same toward me."
Still, neither of them considered their emails anything more than a good friendship that never made it beyond James Bond and 007.
SHE SAID: "When he came home, we saw each other at his 'homecoming' party and we exchanged phone numbers. His best line was something like, 'Hey want to go out Friday night?'"
HE SAID: "You have to understand on a Mission, there's no interaction and no dating so I was more than a little rusty getting back into the swing of things." SHE SAID: "This time I even sat by him at the movie."
It was October 2005. Exactly a year later, they were engaged, and on March 24, 2007, they were married.
When Bryan and Kendall visited Pacific for the first time, they met Chris Pond, who is Pacific's Director of Athletic Training. Chris is a member of the LDS Church. "I know there is a Pacific women's soccer player who is Mormon, too," said Bryan. "So I'm not the only LDS student-athlete. We have our services every Sunday morning, and there are lots of Mormon people in Stockton. We have about 200 in our ward every Sunday." Marriage and family are an important part of the religion.
SHE SAID: "The joke is if you come across a family with seven kids, you ask, 'Are you Mormon?' Mormons are known to have big families."
HE SAID: "You will never hear in a Mormon Church anything about how many children you should have. It's about family and that's the foundation and focus."
So how many children do you hope to have someday? She says five; he says four. But that's nowhere in the immediate future. For now, they're still figuring out household duties.
HE SAID: "She bakes; I barbeque. She cooks; I clean the dishes."
SHE SAID: "We're not messy and he knows if there's a towel on the floor, he needs to pick it up."
HE SAID: "I'm in charge of mopping and vacuuming; she's in charge of dusting and laundry."
SHE SAID: "He's good about helping out."
HE SAID (wearing a wry smile): "I'm learning to wash the dishes on one side of the sink and to close the shower door. I've learned that every pillow on our bed has to be in the exact correct mathematical position, and we must have 50 pillows."
SHE SAID (smiling and shaking her head): "If you are going to do it, you might as well do it right."
Hypothetical situation: Kendall leaves town for four days. What happens when she's away? "Well, I'm definitely not making the bed each morning," said Bryan. "I'm sitting in this easy chair and there's stuff scattered all around the floor. Wrappers, plates, empty water bottles."
Kendall wears a look of astonishment.
"But I'm also smart and the day before she comes home, I clean the house so good you can see vacuum tracks in the carpet."
And that, frankly, is as wild as Bryan LeDuc gets.
Bryan and Kendall are living a dream, and someday they will cherish this wonderful moment in time, even more than they do now.They keep everything in perspective.
"We didn't live together before we were married, so we're still learning about each other," he says. "We know basketball won't last forever. When it ends, I don't want to end up with a job where I'm in a cubicle all day. I can see myself coaching. My Dad is a high school coach and my brother is a middle school coach."
But that, too, seems so very far away.What's real is the one night a week that they have reserved for one another.
HE SAID: "We might go to a movie or go out to eat. We might drive up to Sacramento to the LDS Temple. It's peaceful and we enjoy going there together. Other times, we rent a movie and just stay at home."
SHE SAID: "That's our quality time together."
And it's also what you expect from two very special friends.