In the summer before she left for Texas Tech, a young Marisa Weichel met the starting quarterback for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Now a junior soccer player at Kansas State, Weichel took a shot at love and scored with senior Adrian Martinez.
From Papillion, Nebraska, 45 minutes away from where Martinez plays college ball, Weichel grew up a Nebraska fan but never took too big of an interest in football. Because of this, she wasn’t as awestruck as most girls her age were in the area when she met Martinez.
“I kind of knew who he was because I’m from Nebraska, but I was never really the biggest football fan,” Weichel said. “It was in the summer, some people had some people over, and we kind of just hit it off.”
Being the face of a historic football program, this was uncharted territory for Martinez. Since Weichel wasn’t a huge fan of football, Martinez was seen as a regular person.
“For me, it was hard to find people who didn’t just see me as ‘The Nebraska Quarterback,'” Martinez said. “She got to know ‘the person’ really quickly, drew it out of me. That’s what she likes the most about me, and I love that. That goes a long way for me and is part of the reason why I love her so much. She loves me for me, and not because of the way I play on the football field.”
Weichel and Martinez got to know each other really well over the summer they met and decided to start dating. After the good, however, came the bad, as the two became separated by a 13-hour drive once Weichel left to play soccer at Texas Tech.
“It was a tough time in general, and Marisa was my rock,” Martinez said. “She got me through that tough time, and I like to think I helped her as well, and we stuck it out. It was really hard doing long-distance during COVID for 4-5 months, but I knew the kind of connection we had and knew it would be something worth going through.”
Weichel spent one year at Texas Tech — scoring two goals in eight matches — but knew that being a Red Raider wasn’t right for her. While being 10 hours closer to her family was the primary reason for her coming to Manhattan, Martinez also played a role in her transfer process.
Now, the two are only distanced by a two-and-a-half-hour drive.
“It’s amazing,” Weichel said. “I wanted to come closer to home, but he was part of that reason too. Seeing him in person is like a mental break I think for the both of us. With school and both of our sports, it can be a lot, so honestly, when we’re together, we’ll talk about our days and then say, ‘OK, we’re not talking about sports anymore.’ You have to give yourself that break. He’s really helped me be able to do that. It helps me enjoy it more.”
The shorter distance means that the two can watch each other play their respective schools, where before, they couldn’t make it because of their busy schedules. For Weichel, this means she’s become a bigger fan of football.
“Now, before his games, I get all anxious, I get so excited for him,” Weichel said. “I’m still learning. I actually understand it now, like, I get it. Defense … I take a little break. My Dad and brothers, I’ll text them if I can’t be at the game and be like, ‘That was good, right?’ They have always been Nebraska fans, but now they can really get into it.”
Being a well-known football player, Martinez has to be more crafty when he comes to Weichel’s games.
“I probably went to five K-State soccer games this year,” Martinez said. “I love watching her play, but part of being the quarterback at Nebraska is you get used to getting recognized in public. It’s one of the things that comes with the territory. I’m not necessarily trying to hide, but I’m keeping to myself, her family and not trying to be a distraction in any way.”
Trying to disappear among the crowd is something Weichel has gotten used to throughout their relationship.
“He wears a hat in some places, depends where we’re at,” Weichel said. “We went to a volleyball game … he had a hat and mask on, people still recognized who he was.”
Weichel’s ability to adapt to this is something Martinez appreciates, as her being a Division I athlete as well comes with a perspective most people don’t get.
“We’re able to understand how busy our schedules are,” Martinez said. “We don’t necessarily have time to do things that normal college students get to do. We have responsibilities to our sport, which is a big time commitment. It’s really cool. She’s an athlete, and I love that.”
For Weichel, she appreciates her boyfriend having the perspective of an athlete, but sees him for what’s on the inside over anything else.
“I don’t think of him like that,” Weichel said. “To me, he’s Adrian. We both play a college sport. That’s not why I love him — because he’s the quarterback for Nebraska — I love him for who he is. He’s just such a great person. He has made me a better person. He’s humble, kind … just an amazing human being. I want to be more like him. He makes me want to be better.”
Being the quarterback for Nebraska has been important now more than ever, however, as the NCAA now allows college athletes to monetize their name, image and likeness. Something Weichel and Martinez have discussed — joining forces to make some money.
“We’ve definitely talked about it,” Weichel said. “I kind of told him, ‘Everyone wants to do a deal with you, so you figure it out.’ We’ve joked about it, but we do want to figure something out.”
Martinez also said that he wants to work out a deal once his football season is over. For now, though, he is just happy with who he’s already found with Weichel.
“Her presence when she walks in a room, whether she knows a person or doesn’t, she lights up a room,” Martinez said. “A smile on her face, the way she engages with people, I haven’t found anyone who doesn’t love her. It’s hard not to love her. She just has an incredible spirit about her that spreads on me and makes me want to be better, which is all I can ask for.”