Grahm and Candice Dickinson are the only married members of the Missouri Southern cheer team.

Grahm and Candice Dickinson are the only married members of the Missouri Southern cheer team.

David Haut

Grahm and Candice Dickinson have a lot to cheer about.

Both senior finance majors, the married couple has overcome odds and expectations to get where they are today.

Almost three years ago, Grahm and Candice became engaged. While being engaged is not unique, the way it happened is.

“She proposed to me in the car,” Grahm said.

Candice didn’t have a ring, Grahm didn’t have much money, and it was a mere 18 days after their first date.

To make it official, Grahm blindfolded Candice, took her to a candlelit picnic and gave her a ring.

Six months later, to the day, the two tied the knot in Newkirk, Okla.

“We expected people to be skeptical,” Candice said. “Our parents pretty much trusted our judgment.”

“[People] think it’s really cool now that we’re married, and we’re still married,” she said. “And that I’m not pregnant.”

The two met at Cowley Community College in Arc City, Kan., during cheer practice on spring break. Candice was on the squad and Grahm transferred at the break. The first practice was on Jan. 6, 2002.

Grahm took Candice out for her birthday on Feb. 1, which was their first date. They went to dinner, drove around and stayed up late talking. The rest is history.

The marriage has helped the Dickinson’s in school.

“It made us better students,” Candice said. “We will both graduate with high honors. The reason for that is we keep each other accountable.”

After cheering competitively at Cowley, the two were eager to join the squad at Southern, as long as school came first. The Dickinson’ s chose Southern for its classes; cheerleading was a bonus.

“We didn’t even know if we were going to cheer or not,” Grahm said. “We picked the college first.”

Grahm is now the captain of the squad. The team practices twice a week and cheers at all home football and basketball games.

“We love the people on the squad,” Candice said. “They’re not just teammates, they’re literally our best friends.”

The two plan to cheer for the remainder of their time at Southern before pursuing graduate studies. Grahm will study law and Candice plans to go into financial planning, although they don’t yet know which university they will attend.

No matter where they go, the Dickinson’s would like to return to the area.

“We love it here,” Candice said. “Someday we would like to raise our kids here [in Joplin].”

“They’re the type that if you want a new thing done, they’ve already thought of it,” said Karen Talbatt, head cheerleading coach.

“Being married hasn’t seemed to be a problem at all. They’re highly motivated, extremely intelligent, gifted kids.”

The toughest part of their married life is spending time alone. During their first semester at Southern, their jobs had conflicting hours, leaving them little time to spend together.

Currently, Candice works in the Learning Center and Grahm works in the Student Activities Office.

Despite being seniors, the two plan to graduate in May of 2006 and then head to graduate school.