HOUSTON — There’s a saying that you can find love where you least expect it, and the soccer-inspired love story of Houston Dynamo fans James and Melissa Hromadka seems to be the perfect example.
James had always followed sports in Houston but it wasn’t until the 2002 World Cup that he got his taste for soccer, a sport that would change his life. For a couple of years, he just watched MLS to enjoy the sport, but never really felt like any team was his own, until 2006 when the San Jose Earthquakes were relocated to Houston.
He couldn’t have known it, but the birth of the Dynamo was going to change his life.
James joined the Texian Army, a supporters group for the Dynamo, and like any devoted fan, he would constantly talk about the team, trying to convince people to come to games and join the fun. Inadvertently, that brought him to meet his one true love and now wife, Melissa.
Melissa was at that time a part-time follower of the LA Galaxy, but the pair met at a tailgate before a Dynamo game and hit it off. James jokingly points out that she was never a Dallas fan, much to his relief, and he put her on the right path to falling in love with the Dynamo.
Ever since that tailgate, they’ve been supporting the Dynamo as fans, and each other as a couple.
“It’s amazing how both of our lives change through soccer,” James says. “I can’t imagine what life would have been like if it wasn’t for the Dynamo. I can’t even think about how my life would be, because of all the things that I have been blessed with have come from being involved with them.”
Together, Melissa and James have been going to La Naranja games since the team played in Robertson Stadium at the University of Houston, a place where they share one of their favorite memories.
“I actually proposed to her (Melissa) during the middle of a game. I had the section hold up a giant tifo as I was proposing to her,” James says laughing.
James had put a lot of thought into the proposal. He didn’t want to do it during the half time because that’s when people leave their seats. He was also hoping no goals were scored while he was down on one knee because it would’ve taken away from the moment.
“It was unexpected,” Melissa says. “I didn’t think I was going to find my soulmate or husband or find that person at a game.”
The couple’s love for the Dynamo didn’t stop there.
Bride-to-be Melissa, who made sure the couple’s save-the-date was when the Dynamo were on the road, had a Dynamo-themed wedding, with elements of her favorite team reflected in everything from the clothes to the cake. The bridesmaids wore orange dresses with light-blue sashes, and the couple had the Dynamo’s then-announcer serve as the master of ceremony.
Melissa admits James told her to tone it down because she wanted an inflatable tunnel similar to the one the team came out of.
Although some people may not understand their love for the team, it goes much deeper than just going to watch the Dynamo play – it’s about love and family, they say.
“The Dynamo is our team because we found each other there and it has helped us get close and spend time together and make a supporting group of friends,” Melissa says.
It’s no surprise that the dyna-couple announced they were expecting a baby on Dynamo turf.
“It was during preseason scrimmages and I was pregnant — I had a onesie and the players were coming around signing autographs and I took the onesie out… and all the players came over and signed it,” Melissa says.
Once baby E.J. was able to go to the stadium, the couple took him with headphones. Now he is almost two and he loves the games, James and Melissa say. Although it’s early, given the way he plays with the ball and knows how to kick it, the proud parents are expecting him to be a Dynamo fan and maybe even play soccer.
“For us, it’s awesome to share it with him (E.J.) because it’s something that came out of us being there,” Melissa says. “It’s very special to be able to take him.”