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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, December 26, 2004

A case of attraction between two opposites

By Tanya Bricking Leach
Advertiser Staff Writer

Whether it was to be part of hosting the yearly lu'au or to ease the transition of going to college thousands of miles from home, Charisse Luke and Brian Ching joined the Hawaii Pacific Islanders Club at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., hoping to forge friendships.

Charisse Luke and Brian Ching connected at a college club on the Mainland. On Dec. 11, they were married in Kula, Maui, by the Rev. Patrick Freitas, the same priest who married Ching's parents.

Truth be told, Ching also was scanning the room for potential dates. That was clear upon their first meeting and the nudging of a mutual friend.

"He was known to constantly bug (yes. bug) a friend of his during business class and soccer to 'hook him up,' " Luke recalls.

She was reluctant to be snagged that way, but Ching persisted.

"Every chance I'd get, I'd just try to talk to her," he said.

Soon, they became friends and would take walks together and leave notes for each other. Then, there were gifts of homemade cookies and flowers. And there was that time he actually carried her over a puddle.

By Valentine's Day 1999, Luke knew the relationship might really be going somewhere. They went out to a popular pizza hangout, and it became clear that Luke, a Maui girl from St. Anthony High, and Ching, a soccer star from Kamehameha High, had become college sweethearts.

Ching, who said he was attracted to her beauty, intelligence and assertiveness, knew he had fallen hard when he had "just the feeling that I wanted to hang out with her every spare moment that I had."

Even on soccer road trips, he thought of her. One of his first gifts to her was in her sophomore year of college when he gave her art from a street vendor that spelled her name in fanciful letters.

Last year, by which time they had graduated and were living in San Jose, Calif., the idea of spelling something in colorful script came back to him. Only this time, it would say: "Marry Me."

His plan was to propose last year at Christmas time when they were back on her home island of Maui.

It didn't go exactly as planned. Ching came down with strep throat that week. He wanted to take her up to Haleakala and look at the stars.

But they didn't make it up the mountain. Still, on Christmas Eve, he showed her the sign.

"She kind of looked at me funny because she couldn't read it at first," he said. Then she said yes.

A few weeks later, back in San Jose, where Ching plays for the San Jose Earthquakes soccer team, he took her on a picnic and gave her an engagement ring.

The two, who are both 26, tied the knot Dec. 11 at the Holy Ghost Church in Kula before the Rev. Patrick Freitas, the same priest who had presided over Ching's parents' wedding. The bride, now Charisse Ching, was touched by seeing the tears in her husband's eyes as they exchanged vows.

The pair, who say they're opposites, are grateful for that college club that brought them together.

It brought the meticulous planner into the same circle as an athlete. And it brought them closer to their Hawai'i ties.

"I think she brings structure to my life," the groom said. "And I guess I help her be more adventurous and a little more relaxed."

Tanya Bricking Leach writes about relationships. If you'd like her to tell your love story, write to tleach@honoluluadvertiser.com, call 525-8026 or mail your photo and details to Love Stories, Tanya Bricking Leach, The Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Hono-lulu, HI 96802.