Marriage proposal follows gymnastics championship
Pinkerton Academy gymnastics coach Chelsie Veilleux saw her team win its second straight state title on Saturday. Then she saw her boyfriend, Jason Burland, propose to her. (KEVIN GRAY/UNION LEADER)
Watching her team defend its state championship with a decisive win made Saturday a pretty stellar day for Chelsie Veilleux, Pinkerton Academy's gymnastics coach.
Then it got even better.
As fans waited for the final trophy presentation, Veilleux's boyfriend, Jason Burland, took the microphone and told the packed gymnasium at Salem High School what was on his mind: “I said ... how much she means to me and how I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her if she would have me.”
Then he dropped to one knee and popped the question: “Chelsie, will you marry me?”
Veilleux said she had no inkling of what Burland planned to do. “When I'm at meets, I'm really focused on the team. I don't really notice anything else around me,” she said.
And she has no idea what he actually said to her Saturday, she admitted later; she's going to have to watch the videotape to take it all in.
“I was so stunned,” she said. “I didn't know what to do.”
“Then my assistant coach reminded me I was supposed to say yes.”
So she took the microphone and told him yes. And the crowd went wild.
“A lot of people were crying, and all my girls ran up and hugged me,” she said. “There were a lot of congratulations from coaches I've known for years.”
Veilleux may have had no idea what was coming, but plenty of other folks did. “Everyone seemed to know it was coming except me,” she said. “They kept it quiet.”
► Click on the video below to see the proposal:
Burland made a point of asking for Veilleux's hand not only from her parents but also from her grandparents. And they were all on hand for the big moment Saturday.
But even that didn't give away the secret, Veilleux said. “I just thought they were there because they knew how much it meant to me, the championship.”
Some of her co-workers and even some team members also were in on the secret. Burland said he wanted all the people who are important to Veilleux to be there for her.
Burland teaches history at Chelmsford (Mass.) High School, where he is also the boys' lacrosse coach. Veilleux is assistant director and treatment coordinator for Becket Family Services, a statewide program for at-risk youths.
The two have been together a little more than a year and recently bought a house in Hudson.
Burland attends all the Pinkerton gymnastics meets, cheering on the girls and taking videos so Veilleux can analyze them later. “I'm their Number 1 fan,” he said.
Burland said the first time he met her, he knew Veilleux was the one for him. “You always hear the phrase: You'll know when you know. That was that moment.”
Veilleux, he said, has changed his life. “Every day, I cannot wait for her to come home from work, to see her face,” he said.
“She cares more for other people than she does herself,'' he said. “That's one of the qualities I love most about her.
“She's beautiful, she's intelligent. She's just unlike anybody I ever met,” he said. “I'm so lucky she came into my life.”
Veilleux calls Burland “my other half.”
“You just know it when it happens to you,” she said.
“He's supportive, caring, he's driven. He sets goals for himself and he never settles.”
And he even picked out the perfect ring — with a little help from her mom, she said. “I love it. It's beautiful,” she said.
“He did great.”
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