Meet Your Match: An Athlete Love Story
Meredith Reinhardt and Shea Baker were two of Playoff's first users, matching on January 1, 2018, only three weeks after the launch of the app!
At the time, Meredith was playing soccer at the University of Arizona and Shea was playing football at Rice University in Houston. Although there weren't a ton of athletes near them on Playoff, they matched and began chatting from hundreds of miles away.
In April of 2018, Meredith reached out of Playoff on Instagram to let us know that she had been officially dating Shea for almost 3 months and she was grateful for a platform that brought her "happiness that she never knew existed." Since then, we have kept in contact with Meredith and Shea and followed their incredible love story closely!
At the end of the 2017-2018 school year, Meredith moved to New York City to finish her college soccer career at St. John's University, creating more distance between her and Shea. They made their long distance relationship work for over two years! Then, in the spring of 2020, Meredith graduated from St. John's and moved down to Houston to be with Shea, who has one more year left at Rice.
We have been so inspired to watch this couple's journey as both Shea and Meredith pursued their own athletic and academic excellence, while maintaining a strong commitment to one another and the relationship they built together! So, we decided to interview them and hear what they each had to say about how they made it happen!
Before meeting one another, would you say you were more prone to dating fellow athletes? Why or why not?
Meredith: Yes, I was! Soccer had always been such a big part of my life, so it felt natural to have someone as passionate about his own sport as I am about soccer. Also, it’s easier for student-athletes to relate to each other since we are going through a similar day to day life!
Shea: Yes, I was. Athletes have similar mindsets when it comes to life and I wanted that in a woman. Meredith is the perfect example.
How did you each find out about Playoff?
Meredith: One night one of my roommates/teammates/best friends and I were hanging out and she said “this girl I know just DM’d me about this dating app for college and professional athletes! You should download it and try it out!” I thought it was such a cool idea, so I gave it a try and the rest is history!
Shea: I found out about playoff through another athlete at Rice, it seemed as though she was an ambassador of some sort. She told me about playoff and I downloaded it to try it out.
You two matched after just three weeks of Playoff's launch, and you matched from hundreds of miles away! Was there something specific about the other person that made you decide to start chatting and see where things would lead?
Meredith: I was certainly impressed that he played football at Rice since it’s a very prestigious school. He also had pictures with his mom and family, so it was really endearing to see how important his family is to him. And, of course, I thought he was so cute, too.
Shea: When I first saw her on the app my first reaction was “wow” and yes I really said that out loud as I was on the couch. Her smile was stunning, her face beautiful and all I could do was swipe right and bam we matched immediately.
Once you guys met and sparks flew, you decided to dive into a long distance relationship. With your class and athletic schedules, and a time change, how do you think you two made it work for over two years?!
Meredith: This is a tough one! Long distance relationships are definitely not for everyone, and it really takes the right kind of relationship to get through it successfully in my opinion. I think the keys were patience, communication, trust, belief, and maturity. Every day we would make it a priority to (at minimum) call and say goodnight for at least a few minutes. We would try to plan a night during the week (if our schedules allowed) to watch a movie or show together while on FaceTime. It also helped to have our next trip booked ASAP since it gave us something to look forward to. It was all about the little things!
Shea: We made it work with constant communication which meant a lot of facetime dates and hanging out with each other through facetime. Thank goodness for unlimited data!
I am so excited that you two finally get to live in the same city! Do you think Houston will be home even after Shea is done with school or have you considered other cities?
Meredith: I am really liking Houston so far, but I think we are both open to other cities and will have to see where our careers take us! Although I think one of our favorite cities is Austin (where Shea is from), so that could definitely be a possibility for the future!
Shea: We will wait and see where our lives will take us, we are not set on Houston because Meredith wants to go dental school and I want to get an MBA. Whatever we will do we will do it together.
Why might you recommend Playoff to a single current or former athlete?
Meredith: Being a college or professional athlete is something really unique, and this app is amazing because it brings together people who already have that in common. There is a verification process that is required, which makes it feel a lot more safe and legit than other dating apps. I have recommended playoff to ALL of my single college athlete friends because you never know what will happen!
Shea: I would recommend playoff to them because it’s a whole database full of people that have the same mindset as yourself; people on playoff are motivated and hard working. The chances of finding someone who has the same values and work ethic are pretty high on this app, so I recommend playoff to any athlete or former athlete.