Working together: ’Berg couple enjoys doing life as family of 3

Lauren Belliveau distinctly remembers catching a glimpse of Jake McGraw at an athletic training event on the Heidelberg campus when she was still in high school. The pair didn’t start talking, though, until their senior year at Heidelberg, when both were leading new member education classes – Lauren for the Philalethean Society and Jake for the Excelsior Men’s Society.

“We were doing events together and we had to be in communication about them,” Lauren recalls. “We really had to work together.”

Lauren (now McGraw) and Jake have been working together ever since – both literally, as employees at their alma mater, and as a married couple with a growing family.

This adventurous couple now counts themselves among more than 3,000 ‘Berg alumni who have met their spouses while they were students on campus. On this Valentine’s Day, they share the fun and funny stories of their first date, a wild marriage proposal and welcoming their first child, a nearly 1-year-old son they named Finley.

On officially becoming a couple

For their first date, Jake wanted to take Lauren to do something that would be a new experience for her. Since they’re both Irish, they started appropriately with dinner at Logan’s Irish Pub in Findlay.

Next, in what Lauren describes as “a typical Jake McGraw move,” they headed for an indoor firing range. “She was a sure shot,” Jake says. They survived that experience, and it was all uphill from there.

After they graduated together in 2015 – Lauren in athletic training (ATR) and health science and Jake in criminology -- she headed to Georgia for graduate school at Valdosta State University and he headed back home to Greenup, Kentucky.

The long-distance relationship arrangement was less than ideal. So on a whim and on her birthday, Jake decided to load up his dog, Ruger, and drive 10-plus hours to reunite with Lauren in Georgia.

On launching their careers

Jake & Lauren McGraw

By the time Lauren completed her master’s degree in two years later, the family-oriented couple was really missing home. Then came a phone call that would put their careers on an unexpected trajectory.

Lauren’s former ‘Berg ATR professor, Dr. Ryan Musgrave, the department chair and director of the graduate ATR program, reached out to her about a job opening teaching in the Health Science Department at Heidelberg. For the past five years, she’s been a member of the faculty, joining former professors Dr. Jena Suffel and Tyson Depinet to prepare students for a variety of healthcare careers. She also serves as an athletic trainer.

“I had a handle on the athletic training part. But they really helped a lot to get me in the grove of teaching,” Lauren says.

Meanwhile, Jake started work at Crosswaeh, a multi-county community-based correctional facility that serves as a residential chemical dependency treatment center in Tiffin. He later joined the highly successful PIVOT, a program through the local municipal and common pleas courts that offers an alternative to jail and resources for those dedicated to regaining their sobriety. 

Two years later, he transitioned to the Tiffin-Fostoria Municipal Court Probation, and last summer, he became the director of Campus Safety & Security at Heidelberg.

Working for the same employer has its advantages. Although Jake’s position is primarily 8-5, Lauren’s schedule is all over the place. Most days, they’re able to connect over lunch on campus.

“It’s helpful to know where each other’s head space is at all the time,” Jake says.

On their memorable proposal

Rewind to 2017, when Jake had a crazy idea about proposing to Lauren at Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians (now Guardians). He wanted to do things the old-fashioned way. So one weekend when Lauren was traveling with Heidelberg Athletics, Jake slipped away to visit her parents, who gladly gave their blessing.

Lauren’s stepdad, Dave, helped Jake cook up a wild idea to take the Progressive Field idea one step further. “He said, “I can get you on the field so you can propose,’ and I thought that was awesome,” Jake remembers. “The hard part was selling it to Lauren.” But her stepdad was all in. 

Long story short, they ended up at home plate while the opposing team was taking batting practice. Jake got down on one knee, popped the question and Lauren promptly ran in the opposite direction. But she quickly made a U-turn to say yes!

“Never in a million years did I think I could plan an engagement like that. It’ll be something we never forget,” says Jake.

On their new normal

Jake and Lauren have settled nicely into being a family of three. With a 1-year-old and both of them working full time, their days are full. But they’ve established a routine that works. 

“We just try to connect with each other a lot,” Lauren says. They divide tasks and have accepted the notion that sometimes, their house is going to be messy, and that’s OK. “We really do appreciate each other more when the little things do get done.”

Jake adds, “We’ve changed from a loving couple to a loving family. Watching each other grow as parents has been awesome.”

And they’ve learned to enjoy the little things. While they occasionally find time for dinner and a movie, Lauren jokes that she relishes “long strolls through Lowe’s and Rural King, and occasionally Wal Mart if I’m feeling brave.”

So, what will Valentine’s Day 2023 look like for Lauren and Jake? “Well, I’ll have practice that morning (she’s the athletic trainer for the ‘Berg softball team) and I want to be in bed by 9, so I’m available for an hour and a half after Fin goes to bed,” Lauren nods to Jake.

Here’s to at least catching a glimpse of each other today!

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