Boxer Love Story: Luke Cleaver '97 and Tracy (Cowan) Cleaver '95

It was April 29, 1994. During their 8 a.m health class, Tracy with her usual blue ball cap pulled down over her sleepy eyes, was talking about going water skiing that afternoon with mutual friends, mostly fellow wrestlers. Luke and Tracy started a new life together on Haag Lake that day.  After a long day of school, skiing, and socializing Tracy was worn out, but thanks to a push from her fellow Boxer softball catcher (All-American & Pacific Hall of Famer Kim Warner '94), she got her hiney up off the couch and FINALLY made it over to Luke’s dorm room in Walter Hall for their first date.  Little did she know how hopelessly she would fall for the Eastern Oregon boy in jeans (yes, with that cute Wrangler butt ;) who she had met through those mutual wrestler friends.  Was it his love of the cartoon “Robin Hood” they watched that night, or the fact that he was as smart in the classroom as he was tough on the wrestling mat?  Was it how much he dearly loved his family, and the genuine ferocity he approached everything he did with?  Whatever it was – I think it was really just the blue ball cap and her wide shoulders & big rib cage for Luke – it all changed that night in Walter Hall. 

Robin Hood & Little John are still a favorite, and I’m sure many of you can hear the whistling now.

We spent the rest of our time at Pacific together; supporting each other on the wrestling mat & softball field, water skiing more at Haag Lake, making memories in the Maple Street Apartments (“that” Halloween party & lots of roommate fun), playing co-ed intramural softball, raising iguanas and black labs, and visiting our families in eastern Oregon and on the Oregon coast. Through visits to the hospital for stitches in Tracy’s leg from sliding in her metal cleats on the fine softball field at the Cannery (dumb dumb), and a fall from the boat (in the parking lot, no soft water to land in, darn it) to Luke’s wrestling exchange trip to Khabarovsk, Russia (thanks for the Russian ringworm dear!) and an AC/DC concert in the rain – their love grew strong and deep.

They were married on August 8, 1998 at the Flying M Ranch outside Yamhill, Ore. surrounded by family and friends. Many Pacific University alumni were there, including friends that are more like family Cherlyn Olsen '93) & Kay (Officer Kay P.) Schander. That was over 18 years ago, and they fall deeper & deeper in love every day. They have enjoyed traveling, boating, golfing, playing co-ed slowpitch softball, raising & loving their puppies, spending time with family, watching MLB games & National Parks (they're trying to visit every ball park eventually) and raising their awesome kids!

Their love of their sports continues to this day, as Luke is in his 18th year coaching wrestling – with some pretty good success. His teams have been State Champions EIGHT times since he took over the Nyssa Bulldogs in 2001-02, and the school now has a total of 12! Tracy has also been coaching softball in Nyssa since we moved there with a 4-month old Elijah in 2001. Luke and Tracy are the proud parents of Elijah, 15 and Addie, 8. The kids are also both very athletic and 4.00 students, involved in everything from wrestling and baseball to softball and soccer. They are proud of their children's many accomplishments in the classroom, as well as on the mat/field/court - but are mostly proud of the wonderful, honest, and strong young people they are growing up to be. 

Thank you Pacific University for bringing us together all those years ago, here's to many more!

Aug. 30, 2016