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Athens quarterback goes extra yard for homecoming

October 8, 2013

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Athens High School junior Alex Mussat pulls out all stops to ask Abbey Rice, a junior at Troy High School, to the Homecoming Dance on a sign at Emerson Church Unitarian Universalist on Livernois Sept. 30.

Used to be, the hardest part of asking a girl to a big dance was getting the courage. And if you had a steady girlfriend, it was pretty much a done deal.

Not anymore. Guys have to be creative.

Some arrange lit candles to pose the question.

Some order special pizzas with pepperoni arranged in the letters HC?

Some make elaborate poster boards to ask a girl to the prom or homecoming dance.

Junior Alex Mussat, quarterback for the Athens High School varsity football team, devised a scavenger hunt for his girlfriend, Abbey Kate Rice, a Troy High junior who plays on the school tennis team. It ended at Emerson Church Unitarian Universalist on Livernois, across the street from Mussat’s home, with help from Emerson member Frank Roush and both teens’ parents.

Alex and Abbey have been dating for about a year.

Alex’s mother, Sue, said the family was driving home Sept. 29 and Alex wondered aloud if he could pop the dance question to Abbey on the Emerson church marquee.

“He said, ‘The last 15 guys have done signs on a house. Too bad I couldn’t get something on a marquee,’” she said. 

“I don’t want a cliché,” said Alex.

So Mom offered to call Emerson the next day, Sept. 30, and ask.

The church secretary phoned Roush, who, as head of the worship committee, is in charge of changing the words on the marquee each week, and asked him.

Turns out Roush was available, although it was his 35th wedding anniversary.  

He explained that his wife, Linda, had made plans to celebrate her own and two other friend’s birthdays that evening weeks ago.

“I came right after work,” he said.

Another church member came in specially to turn on the outside lights that lit the marquee, as dusk fell before Abbey and her mother, Anne, arrived.

Alex had devised clues for Abbey at the first place sparks flew for the teens — the Troy Family Daze Festival at Zion Community Church; at Papa Vino’s Italian Kitchen, where he asked her to be his girlfriend; and at Emerson, where she found the words, “Abbey Kate, please be my date Homecoming 2013.”

His father, Christopher, left balloons and gummy bears, Abbey’s favorite, at Zion with the clue for the next destination. And Sue Mussat helped Raush with the letters for the marquee.

Abbey said she’d already purchased her dress for the homecoming dance, which they will attend at her school, Troy High. Troy High’s and Athens’ homecomings are on the same day, Oct. 12.

Roush said the church marquee has been inscribed with wedding proclamations; the church, known as the white barn, hosts a lot of weddings, but never an invitation to a dance.

“It takes me back,” he said.  “I was 19 when I met my wife.”

About the author

Staff Writer Terry Oparka covers Troy and the Troy School District for the Troy Times. Oparka has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2000 and attended Oakland University and Macomb Community College. Oparka has won an award from the Michigan Press Association and three awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Detroit Chapter.

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