By Jenelyn Russo | Special to AnaheimDucks.com
Engagement Photos at Anaheim Ice by Rhiannon and Nick Price, Price Photos
It didn’t take long for Ashlyn Osborne to realize that dating Chris McWhorter meant she probably needed to learn some things about hockey.
“On our first date, I went to watch him play with the roller hockey club team from school,” Osborne says. “And on our second date, I watched him play with his ice hockey team. Our whole relationship revolved around hockey.”
And Osborne wouldn’t have it any other way.
She and high school sweetheart McWhorter met in English class when they were seniors at Esperanza High School in Anaheim.
|“I’ve watched this team from the beginning, and I’ve seen the growth firsthand,” McWhorter says. “I feel like I’m part of a family with the Ducks.” |
For McWhorter, hockey was in his blood. He grew up around the game, and his love for the sport began at a young age. Following in his father’s footsteps, he got his start in roller hockey and later transitioned to ice.
Always a goaltender, the Anaheim native played with local ice and inline club teams, including the Beach City Lightning and the California Wave. He’s played in cities all across the country and in Canada, even winning an AIHL (American Inline Hockey League) Men’s National Championship in 2010 with a team based out of The Rinks – Corona Inline. Today, McWhorter still mans the crease for his recreational league ice and inline teams.
“Ever since I can remember, I’ve been on a pair of skates,” McWhorter says. “Playing hockey was literally all I ever did.”
And just as he did with hockey, McWhorter grew up with the Anaheim Ducks. “I’ve watched this team from the beginning, and I’ve seen the growth firsthand,” McWhorter says. “I feel like I’m part of a family with the Ducks.”
But Osborne was new to hockey. Outside of attending a few Mighty Ducks games when she was younger, she didn’t follow the sport prior to meeting McWhorter. It didn’t take long, however, for the goalie to win her heart. Not only did Osborne become an unabashed fan of the netminder, but she pledged her loyalty to McWhorter’s favorite team as well.
“She started becoming more of a fan of the Ducks, a super fan, an even a bigger fan than I was,” McWhorter says of Osborne. “She began following everything about the team and all that was going on in the league.”
|With already a “closet full of jerseys,” McWhorter made a special addition to the collection in honor of their upcoming nuptials with a custom Ducks sweater that commemorates their wedding date: 4-24-16. The couple even has a few surprises planned for guests attending their wedding and reception that will no doubt be a reflection of where their hockey loyalties lie. |
After high school graduation, Osborne headed east to Florida Institute of Technology. Following Ducks hockey three time zones away wasn’t easy, and with McWhorter remaining in Orange County, the distance between the two was even more challenging for their relationship.
But in 2010, after recovering from a serious car accident, McWhorter took a closer look at his life and his relationship with Osborne. Not wanting to be apart anymore, Osborne soon made the decision to come home for good.
“It put things into perspective for me,” McWhorter says of the accident, “and made me see who and what things were really important.”
On Christmas Eve 2014, while donning Ducks-themed shoes and Violent Gentleman t-shirts, McWhorter proposed to Osborne at their favorite place to go outside of Honda Center – Disneyland.
“He proposed in the courtyard area between the two parks (Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure), right at the memorial stone we have there to honor my (late) grandma,” Osborne says. “I was thinking he would propose, but I didn’t know when, where or how. And that was his way of including her.”
Wedding planning was soon underway for the couple, and that meant incorporating as much hockey and Ducks Dedication into the details as possible, starting with an engagement photo shoot held last spring at the Ducks practice facility, The Rinks – Anaheim Ice. Osborne doesn’t play hockey, or admittedly even skate, but that didn’t stop her from getting out on the ice with her puck-stopping fiancé.
“There was no doubt in my mind that this is what I wanted to do,” Osborne says of their engagement photos.
And when McWhorter’s mother and sister came to Osborne with the idea of throwing her a Ducks-themed bridal shower, she didn’t hesitate to say yes. “I was all for that,” Osborne says of her bridal shower theme. “I thought it was the best thing I’d ever heard of.”
|“I’ve really become passionate about the game and the Ducks,” Osborne says. “All the players have such great qualities and are great role models. And the team is one of the best at giving back to their community and their fans. It makes the Ducks easy to love.” |
With already a “closet full of jerseys,” McWhorter made a special addition to the collection in honor of their upcoming nuptials with a custom Ducks sweater that commemorates their wedding date: 4-24-16. The couple even has a few surprises planned for guests attending their wedding and reception that will no doubt be a reflection of where their hockey loyalties lie.
After their ceremony at the end of the month, Osborne and McWhorter are headed to Bali for their honeymoon. Even though they will be traveling during hockey’s second season, the couple fully expects the Ducks to still be playing and in the hunt for the Stanley Cup when they return.
Osborne’s passion for life, including how enthusiastically she has embraced hockey, is just one of the things McWhorter loves about his future bride.
And for someone who never envisioned cheering on hockey players, let alone marrying one, Osborne’s favorite qualities of her soon-to-be-husband include his selflessness, his love for her family and the fact that he introduced her to the right sport and the right team.
“I’ve really become passionate about the game and the Ducks,” Osborne says. “All the players have such great qualities and are great role models. And the team is one of the best at giving back to their community and their fans. It makes the Ducks easy to love.”
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