Cru Love: 1987 waterballoon prank turns life-long romance

“May it be noted: in this exact spot where I am standing, my parents saw each other for the very first time. #MyUMHB”
That is what incoming fall 2018 freshman, Payton Mayes, tweeted during Preview Weekend in November of 2017.
Standing outside of Getty’s Hall, Payton reminisced on the very place where her parents first saw each other.
Michael and Holly Mayes’ story is as unique as their love: playful, filled with joy, and intertwined with the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
While playing basketball and pursuing a degree, Michael Mayes never thought he’d meet someone that would one day be his wife and future mother of his children at UMHB.
Sitting in front of Getty’s during the spring semester of 1987 with a friend, he noticed two girls approaching. He didn’t think much of the pair, until suddenly they were drenched by a bucket of water, thrown from the balcony.
“All of a sudden this huge amount of water comes pouring off the balcony and totally drenches these two girls. I looked up and there are these two clowns up there laughing, and I just thought it was about the funniest thing I’d ever seen.” Looking back, he remembered the event with a laugh.
“I guess she heard me laugh, and boy she turned and looked at me, and I thought ‘Oh that girl’s pretty, and pretty mad too.’”
At the time, local Belton High Schooler, Holly, had gone with her friend, Grace, to visit Grace’s boyfriend, now Dr. Steve Theodore, Vice President of the university.
As they approached his dorm building, they had been chatting and didn’t notice Steve at the balcony, awaiting the right moment to dunk water on them. Years later, her friend Grace would marry that same boy who dunked water on her, and Holly would marry the boy who laughed at them.
In the summer of 1990, the couple finally formally met when they both worked for Summer Fun in Belton.
That summer, as Michael attended summer classes and Holly enjoyed being home for the warm months from Baylor University, the pair began dating and unknowingly began their future.
Now with their youngest daughter excitedly anticipating her freshman year come fall, the couple looked back fondly at how the university was intertwined with their lives.
“We were the third house on 10th, just across the street from the university,” Michael said. “I used to bring Payton and her sister over here all the time and they would skate around the quad. She’s been coming over here for as long as she can remember. It’s always been here, it’s always been what we’ve been about.”
“Often we bring up how so many tiny little things had to happen for us to even be in the same town when we met,” Holly said. “Tiny little decisions had to be made for our paths to even cross, and God just works in some mysterious ways. It’s so interesting to see everything fall in place.”
The pair reminisced over their story with love, and left advice to those currently in relationships in college.
“Don’t force anything. If it’s supposed to be, it will,” Michael said. “If you have to try too hard it’s not the one for you.”
“And for sure don’t dump a bucket of water on them,” Holly added. “But honestly, in college many are so focused on their GPA that they forget about their relationships, not even just romantic ones. That’s such a rich part of the college experience, those people become such a big part of your life. It’s so important to balance. Invest in good people’s lives. This place is unique.”
As the years have progressed, Holly and Michael have had a special place in their hearts and in their home for UMHB, and have instilled that in their daughter Payton. With high anticipation for her freshman year, Payton spoke to her own personal appreciation for the university.
“It just feels like home,” Payton said. “I’ve been coming here since I could walk, and pedal. Dad and I are very similar and I feel like I have that connection through him. It feels right when I’m here.”
Married since 1992, the Mayes are both successful educators who share family and a unique type of love that many hope to one day obtain.
Their memories, their future, and a water prank will forever encompass their story, and UMHB will be the home to yet another legacy student come fall, with special ties to her family.

Author: Jasmin Ortiz

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