Cheerleader, player team up


Tiffany Alston And Robert Gregory Jr.

April 15, 2001|By Joanne E. Morvay | By Joanne E. Morvay,Special to the Sun

He was a basketball player at Virginia State University in Petersburg, Va. She was a cheerleader for the team. Robert Gregory Jr. and Tiffany Alston should have needed no more introduction than that.

But Tiffany was on the cheerleading squad in 1997, and Robert was on the basketball team in 1998. Though they'd noticed each other around campus, the couple had never met.

Fortunately, a 6-year-old cupid named Ashley came to the rescue -- with a little help from Tiffany. It was February 1998, and Ashley and Tiffany, who is friends with Ashley's mother, were at the gym while the basketball team was practicing. After practice, Robert noticed Ashley playing near the court, and he was charmed. Soon he was charmed by Tiffany.

Little did he know, Tiffany says, that she had sent Ashley to play near Robert "so I could have some reason to talk to him."

The couple chatted, Robert asked for Tiffany's phone number, and he called the next day. Their first date was dinner at an Italian restaurant Feb. 13. The couple didn't spend the next evening, Valentine's Day, together because Robert was at a basketball tournament.

It didn't matter: After one date, they had already begun to forge a strong relationship.

"We just clicked from Day One," Robert says. "We developed a friendship and we just loved each other's company."

Although Tiffany had graduated in 1997 with a degree in industrial technology, she was back at VSU earning her second bachelor's degree, in mechanical engineering.

After getting her second degree in December 1999, she took a job in Newport News, Va. The couple who had seen each other every day now found themselves in a long-distance relationship. But the miles between them actually made them closer, Tiffany says. She and Robert made sure they saw each other every weekend. That Christmas, he proposed.

When Robert graduated in July 2000, the couple moved to Maryland, as they had planned. Tiffany had grown up in Baltimore's Edmondson Village neighborhood. Robert had grown up near Richmond, Va.

The couple settled in Bowie and soon plan a move to Largo. Tiffany, 26, is a mechanical engineer at Northrop Grumman in Annapolis. Robert, 25, teaches second grade at Garnett Wilkinson Elementary School in Washington.

When it came to their wedding, there was no question that it would be in Baltimore, and Tiffany put her own touch on the celebration, which took place March 31 at Westminster Hall.

Billed as a "One Night Only Performance" in Tiffany's wedding bulletin, the setting was a "beautiful spring evening in downtown Baltimore."

The couple created their own compact disc of love songs as wedding favors. And the guests helped create a wedding scrapbook. An usher took each guest's picture with a Polaroid camera. The photo was pasted in a book where the guests could then write their wishes for the newlyweds.

The wedding party included Tiffany and Robert's siblings, and Tiffany's 7-year-old sister Taylor wore a copy of Tiffany's dress and was the "little bride." Robert's brothers Clinton Jr. and Romont were groomsmen.

The 250 guests included Tiffany's mother, Sharon Alston, a Baltimore City police detective, as well as Robert's parents, Shelly and Clinton Dabney Sr. The Dabneys own a flooring company in Richmond.

Tiffany's father, Clarence Alston Jr., was killed in a car accident last October. "I don't think I could have gotten through that without Robert," Tiffany says. She wrote a musical tribute to her father, which was performed in his honor during the ceremony.


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