High school sweethearts seal the deal at marching band rehearsal

A member of the Cyclone Marching Band proposed to his high school sweetheart at a band rehearsal Aug. 31. Courtesy of Emma Todey and Adam Eichhorn.

A member of the Cyclone Marching Band proposed to his high school sweetheart at a band rehearsal Aug. 31. Courtesy of Emma Todey and Adam Eichhorn.

When a random ice cream cake appeared in her family’s already stuffed freezer, Emma Todey paused for only a second to question her mother before heading out the door to marching band rehearsal.

At the band field, Todey parked her red Toyota Camry and greeted her boyfriend of four years, Adam Eichhorn, who biked to rehearsal. Todey tossed her car keys to Eichhorn, unaware of the ring box sitting in the pocket of his athletic shorts.

Todey and Eichhorn’s families stood on the sideline as warm-ups began, but it was not until Eichhorn bent onto one knee in the grass of the practice field that Todey realized her boyfriend was proposing.

Emma Todey, a senior studying animal ecology, and Adam Eichhorn, a senior studying materials engineering, got engaged during a marching band rehearsal Aug. 31.

Eichhorn proposed during stretching warm-ups at the beginning of practice after conspiring with the student staff two days prior.

During warm-ups, band members travel 10 yards with a series of stretches. When the student staff announces “lunge with a twist,” it is the band’s tradition to yell, “what’s the twist.” The student staff typically responds with a bad joke or a reference to the day’s activities.

On the day of the proposal, a student staff member responded to the prompt with “Adam Eichhorn’s proposing to his girlfriend.” At this point, Eichhorn stepped out of form and knelt in the grass in front of Todey with a dark green ring box in the palm of his hand.

“I almost immediately started crying,” Todey said. “I was like ‘Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, is this finally happening?”

Cheering and screaming erupted from all sides. Though Adam could not hear her, he could see Emma mouth the word “yes” while she nodded her head and tears streamed down her face behind her sunglasses. In the background, several trumpet and trombone players yelled, “that’s my captain!”

Eichhorn is first trombone captain, and Todey is third trumpet captain.

“One of the trombones next to me, as soon as she heard, went into mom mode and pulled out her phone for pictures,” Eichhorn said.

The two embraced in a hug before going in for a kiss, pausing for only a moment to maneuver their heads around the bills of their baseball caps.

Several band members congratulated the couple throughout the rehearsal, including the band director, Christian Carichner.

“Band is really important to both of us, and I knew it’d be special if I proposed in front of the band to her,” Eichhorn said.

Eichhorn and Todey both live at home with their families in Ames, so their parents and siblings will sometimes drop in to watch the band rehearsals. This allowed both families to attend without spoiling the surprise proposal.

“I knew a proposal was coming, because we had talked about it beforehand,” Todey said. “But I had no idea when or how. I had no idea it was happening.”

Todey and Eichhorn purchased their rings together in April, and Todey purchased her dress over the summer. They have already spent six months planning the wedding, which is scheduled for May 2023 at St. Thomas Aquinas church.

Eichhorn’s engagement ring comprises walnut, wood and titanium metal because of his love for woodworking. Todey’s engagement ring features a synthetic diamond perched upon two bands twisted together. One band is dotted with little diamonds, and the other is plain silver.

“We ended up going with a synthetic diamond instead of a real one because it’s more ethical, and it’s honestly cheaper,” Todey said.

Eichhorn proposed using the lunge with a twist stretching exercise as a reference to the twisted band on Todey’s ring because he and Todey love puns.

Todey and Eichhorn met as sophomores at Ames High School after Todey transferred from South Dakota. They began to talk in the Spanish class they shared after recognizing each other from band.

After a year of friendship, Eichhorn and Todey went on a first date to see “Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.” December 2022 marks their fifth year together.

“We’ve been dating for, like, so long, and it’s been wonderful,” Emma said. “But we’re excited to move on to the next chapter of our lives.”

Following the proposal and the rest of their band rehearsal, Todey and Eichhorn posed for several engagement photos with their families. At the end of the night, they celebrated with the ice cream cake sitting in Todey’s freezer.