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Married to the game: UB softball player proposed to after game

Senior Nicolette Jacobs gets engaged after last week’s softball doubleheader

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The UB softball team took home two wins against Akron on April 3, but senior infielder Nicolette Jacobs also took home a ring.

Billy Kerner, Jacobs’ boyfriend, proposed at Nan Harvey Field after the Bulls’ doubleheader against the Zips. Video of the engagement has been retweeted or liked over 200 times on Twitter.

Jacobs said the location of the proposal was a childhood dream.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I always thought it would be very cool to be proposed to on a softball field,” Jacobs said. “I never thought it would happen, but it was very surreal.”

Kerner and Jacobs met through Lace Smith, a junior pitcher and outfielder, in 2016 while on vacation and started dating in summer 2017.

Kerner is stationed with the Marines at Southern California’s Camp Pendleton. Jacobs said she and Kerner are busy, but work through their schedules.

“Our schedules work out pretty well. We make it work whenever we have free time, and we send messages back and forth,” Jacobs said. “It’s kind of like ‘Dear John,’ but with technology.”

Jacobs said she had no idea Kerner would propose to her, but noticed her teammates were taking a lot of time to head to the locker room after the double-header.

“So I was waiting, waiting and waiting, and an announcement played because I’m the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee president,” Jacobs said. “I said, ‘This is weird. Why are they doing this at my softball game?’ Then, all of a sudden, I started to see [Kerner] come up from the corner of my eye and I was like, ‘Oh no, this is happening.’”

Kerner got down on one knee in front of the dugout. After Jacobs said yes, teammates surrounded and embraced the couple.

Smith said Kerner told her he wanted to propose before he deploys with the Marines.

“He was showing me pictures of the ring in January. I said, ‘I hope that’s a promise ring’ and he said ‘not for $7,000,’” Smith said. “When I found out he was proposing to her, I had to hear everything.”

Smith said she hopes to be at the wedding.

Danielle Lallos, a senior utility player for the Bulls, said she lived with Jacobs their freshman year and thought the field was a fitting location for the engagement.

“I’m surprised the team actually kept it a secret for that long. It was just good to be a part of it, knowing that this sport has been a huge part of our lives,” Lallos said.

“For myself, I’ve played for 17 years now. Being in Division I, you start when you’re like four years old, so it’s a passion. It’s a big part of your life, and he’s going to be a big part of her life so I’m glad they got to share that on the field.”

After the softball season, Jacobs said she hopes to go to law school –– likely at UB –– while Kerner is active in the military. Jacobs said the engagement will be long; they’ll get married during or after law school.

“The ring is gorgeous. He’s pretty simple and very loving,” Jacobs said. “He’s very caring and overall, he treats me like a princess. I love it and I love him.”

Benjamin Blanchet is the senior features editor and can be reached at benjamin.blanchet@ubspectrum.com and @BenjaminUBSpec.


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