Naomi Benedict celebrated her 20th birthday at yesterday's Ravens game. Her boyfriend, Gage Rindt, gave her the best birthday gift she could have hoped for: a 1.65-karat diamond engagement ring.
About a half-hour before yesterday's game, Rindt, a New Windsor native and sergeant in the Marine Corps, dropped to one knee and proposed to Benedict, also from New Windsor, on the Ravens' sideline.
Benedict, who wore a Todd Heap jersey underneath a winter jacket, said yes, but she initially didn't believe what she was seeing from Rindt.
"I thought he was lying," Benedict said with a nervous laugh. "I thought he was messing with me."
Their romance began during an issues class at Francis Scott Key High in Taneytown, where Rindt, a senior at the time, and Benedict, a sophomore, would debate current events.
"I was a little bit on the wild side, and she was kind of conservative," Rindt recalled. "I thought she was interesting."
Benedict felt the same way and even signed up to be a manager for the school's wrestling team to be closer to Rindt, the Carroll County champion in the 152-pound weight class in 2003. It took three months for Rindt to realize what was going on.
"I guess I was pretty naive to girls liking me," he said. "I was in my own world. But she was beating on my door pretty hard."
After graduating, Rindt enlisted with the Marines and went to locales like Parris Island, Quantico and San Diego for training. Meanwhile, Benedict stayed home, and the two continued their relationship long distance.
Rindt said he decided to propose yesterday after he was accepted to the Marines Enlisted Commissioning Education Program, which will pay for Rindt's schooling at Norwich University in Vermont in exchange for four years of service after graduation.
"Now that I'm settled there, I'm going to be there for four years," said Rindt, who contacted Ravens officials last month about his plan and got their permission. "I just bought a house [in nearby Northfield, Vt.], and I feel that now is the time to get married and start a life together."