On June 16, 2018, in an intimate wedding ceremony in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, Mccrae Paxton Carroll and Alyssa Ray Carroll pledged a lifetime together in front of family, friends and loved ones, but their journey started with a carriage ride, a song and a proposal in White Point Garden in the heart of Charleston, South Carolina.? Most often, it is the quiet stories, without fanfare, without mass media that truly define the Lowcountry spirit.
The story of these two young Charleston Southern lovers is one of those beautiful human interest stories of love and commitment and we were fortunate to play a small role.? One day, a close friend Hannah reached out to us from an article we wrote entitled, 11 Memorable Places to Propose in Charleston, South Carolina, and asked for our help developing an idea for the best proposal.
We provided some ideas, and then Team Mccrae and Laney put together a beautiful proposal idea that consisted of a carriage ride through historic downtown Charleston, a song and a pledge of eternal love.? With Mccrea’s background in music, it was clear that was an important part of their lives together and had to be a part of the proposal.
As true with some many memorable moments we witness, one lose sight of the rest of the story.? We were able to acquire pictures from their wedding last month in Maggie Valley, North Carolina and wanted to share their story from proposal to marriage with our readers
Today, the Carroll’s live in a small apartment in Charleston, while they finish their academic studies at Charleston Southern, his in Psychiatry and her in Nursing.? They are so excited to start their lives together as husband and wife with plans to raise a family here in the Lowcountry.
To Maccrae and Laney, we wish you a life of happiness and wonder.? Thank you for letting us play a small role in your happiness.
On November 14, 2015, Evan Cruz, a sought after recruit for Charleston Southern University Football, was invited to attend the Charleston Southern Saturday afternoon game against Liberty and visit the campus. On the way to the game from Viera, Florida his father, cousin and Evan made a brief stop outside of Savannah, GA. On the way back to the highway, they were T-boned and sent spinning off the road.
Evan’s father was rushed to the local hospital for a possible rib injury while Evan and his cousin were examined for precautionary measures and spent the majority of that Saturday in the ER. Evan and his family did not complete that trip, but something happened that remained with Evan and his family long after that day. After contacting the coaching staff regarding his accident, they showed genuine concern for Evan and his family by checking in on them even well after the Liberty game. The idea of family and values that embodies the Charleston Southern Football team never left Evan.
The week before signing day Evan remained in Florida and had still not made it to Charleston Southern University. He had yet to commit to where he would play the following year though Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Florida Institute of Technology were actively pursuing him. A visit from Charleston Southern Buccaneer Quarterback Coach and Florida Recruiter, Mark Tucker to Viera High School, made the decision easier for the future physical therapist. Coach Tucker along with the rest of the staff knew that Evan was the right “fit” for the university. With a strong faith system, solid academic focus (carrying a 3.8 GPA), a balance of mental and physical health and a future career plan in place, Evan symbolized the player the coaching staff knew would be an integral part of the winning team he wants to build.
After a few days of deep family discussions, Evan committed to the Charleston Southern team. Coach Tucker cautioned Evan about making his decision without even seeing the campus however weighing all the factors and remembering the incredible outreach after his accident, Evan knew this was the right move.
Just two days after seeing the campus for the first time and three weeks after committing to Charleston Southern, Charleston Daily sat down with Evan, and his parent’s, Ernie and April, at Carmella’s on East Bay Street on a sunny Friday afternoon to discuss the past, present and future of one of the newest Buccaneers.
Evan’s football career began when he was 5 years old, in a town known more for soccer than football. With his father Ernie Cruz coaching his little league youth football team, Evan and five of his closest friends developed leadership skills, strength, discipline and a lifelong commitment to the game.
At age five, Evan didn’t know that someday, he would step onto the field as a member of two remaining teams playing in the state championship. That became a reality for him and 27 other graduating seniors on December 11, 2015, the last football game Evan played before making a life changing move to Charleston this fall.
Entering the Viera High School football program as high-school freshmen, Evan’s class, led by Coach Kevin Mays, carried on its back a team that was 12 – 30 the previous four years and when the final whistle blew at the end of the 2012 season, the Hawks managed only one victory. How does one recover from such losses and rebuild? Possibly by remembering their youth football coach’s words that he instilled – follow your heart, believe in yourself and never stop fighting.
That year, 2013, Evan’s high school team went from a one win season to 8 – 2. The 2014 and 2015 seasons, they were also victorious with 9-1 and 10-5 records, respectively.
The dramatic turnaround for the team led by Coach Mays and staff brought hope and rejuvenation to the town of Viera. Fan support began to stretch outside of Viera to neighboring counties and even from Allen, TX ( Viera played an out of state match-up against national ranked Allen Eagles earlier in the season)following this string of wins with rally cries all the way to the state championship.
Viera Hawks Football stands behind the mission: Unity defines our willingness to work as a team to put forth the effort to win the battle. These are strong words that will only lead to success with unwavering leadership, confidence and fight. What Ernie Cruz embedded in his little league youth football team ten years earlier was equally enforced during their time representing Viera Hawks Football.
Today, Evan enters into a program that has lived a similar storyline. From 2007 through 2012, Charleston Southern went 26 – 41; since then they have been 28 – 10 with big match-ups against Florida and Florida State slated for the next two seasons. With so many similarities in the programs and a coaching staff that feels like family, Evan’s decision to join Charleston Southern continues to be reinforced internally.
Evan has now visited his future campus, and is due to attend classes and start practice in the summer semester. He is settling in with his teammates and knows they are growing into one big family that truly cares about one another. Ernie and April Cruz feel comfortable with the Christian fellowship available at Charleston Southern as well as the comfortable hospitality offered by the city of Charleston. A warm genuineness permeated our interview with April, Ernie and Evan. They were very generous with their stories and enthusiastic about the future. An adage emerged several times during our conversation; everything happens for a reason. Faith and goodwill brought together Evan Cruz and Charleston Southern University. The partnership of a young student athlete and a growing football program will lead to a bright future for both.
Charleston takes a lot of pride in its college and professional sports programs and it is the fan support that keeps them alive and thriving in our community.? Do you know all the available spectator sports in our area where you can let loose and cheer on your local sports programs?? We put together a guide to help build your allegiance and get you out of the house and in those stadium, arena and park seats.
Charleston RiverDogs – Our MiLB NY Yankees affiliate plays right here at Joe Riley Stadium in Charleston, SC.? They are fun, competitive and a big family friendly environment.? Formally the Rainbows, the RiverDogs have become a foundation of sporting fun right off the Brittlebank Park.? Also, where else can you get a sushi dog?
Charleston Battery – Are you a soccer fan?? If you are, you have to make your way to Daniel Island to see our fast action team go up and down the soccer field.? Fans of all ages love to watch our Battery compete in the number one sport in the world.
South Carolina Stingrays – They play hockey, they win championships and they support the community while bringing some good healthy hitting into play.? The Stingrays are fast and provide most of us the only ice we typically get to see.
South Carolina Ravens – Did you know we have a new professional arena football club here in Charleston?? Well we do.? This upcoming season they will send energy your way with passing, running, hitting and excitement in an indoor setting.? Learn more about the newest addition to the Charleston sports scene.
College of Charleston Athletics – The College of Charleston offers 20 men’s and women’s sports club programs for you to engage and be a part of.? From sailing to basketball to tennis, the college has your covered.? Come out and support the students that work so hard for their passions.
The Citadel Bulldogs Athletics – Just down the street from the College of Charleston is The Citadel offering 14 men’s and women’s programs from basketball, to rifling to football.? With a diverse range of programs and skills, there is so much for a fan to choose from.
Charleston Southern Athletics – Just off of Highway 26 in North Charleston is the beautiful Charleston Southern Campus.? Just past the entrance way are students that represent the Buccaneers in 14 collegiate programs.? You will be hard pressed to find a more passionate group of student athletics.? Show your support for them as they represent the Big South Conference.