An Elon love story

John and Catherine Somers ’14 found love and more during their time at Elon.

John Somers ’14 & Catherine Brinkman ’14 at their 2019 wedding.

Love has a funny way of putting you in the right place at the right time. If not for a fifth year of eligibility on the Elon men’s golf team, John Somers ’14 wouldn’t have been on campus for the annual back-to-school block party at the Oak Hill Village apartments. And if he wasn’t at that block party, his friend Olivia wouldn’t have had the chance to introduce him to her good friend Catherine, who is now his wife.

“It was all meant to be,” he says.

Back then, her name was Catherine Brinkman ’14, and since she played on the Elon women’s soccer team, she and John didn’t really cross paths — except for that one time a few years prior. “I laid eyes on him my sophomore year in statistics class,” Catherine says. John and Catherine were the only student-athletes in the class, but nothing really came of that connection until they were formally introduced at the block party a few summers later.

The two immediately hit it off that day, and John eventually built up the nerve to ask Catherine out on a date. Despite that initial spark, the couple decided a romantic relationship just wasn’t in the cards. After all, Catherine was moving back to Florida soon and John was planning to stay near family in Elon after graduation.

So instead of pursuing a love connection, John and Catherine spent their final year on campus focused on becoming really good friends. They spent all their time together on the weekends but never seriously considered dating. But then, just two weeks before graduation, John and Catherine finally saw what everyone around them had seen for quite some time. “We both realized we were falling in love, if we weren’t already in love with each other,” Catherine says. “So we just took the plunge.”

The small spark they felt back in the summer finally burst into a flame that gave them the courage to take on a long-distance relationship. Their commitment paid off. They got married on Feb. 23, 2019, with their friends and former Elon teammates by their sides.

Life since that day has been nothing short of an adventure for the couple. Catherine works full time as an occupational therapy assistant while also studying full time to earn a master’s degree and become an occupational therapist. John has teed off on a professional golf career, playing tournaments on the Korn Ferry Tour with the hope of soon earning his PGA Tour card.

Catherine caddies for John as he competes professionally.

While John and Catherine are pursuing very different dreams, they realize that reaching their goals will take a team effort — in some cases, literally. “I’m officially a Korn Ferry Tour caddy,” says Catherine, who has caddied for John in several professional events, including tournaments in Cancun, Utah and Colorado. It’d be impossible for John to find a caddy he trusts more than his wife, although Catherine’s learning curve was quite steep in the beginning. Take John’s first professional tournament, for instance.

“She almost cost me the tournament because she didn’t know to pull the flag stick out of the cup, and the ball would’ve hit the flag, which would have resulted in a penalty,” John recalls. “Luckily it didn’t.”

“No,” Catherine interjects. “Luckily he didn’t make the shot, so it didn’t matter.”

Despite just a few hiccups on the course, John is happy to have his wife by his side as he chases his dream. “She’s helped me a lot, and I couldn’t have done the things I’ve done so far without her.”

In their nearly two years of marriage, John and Catherine have learned a number of lessons about the importance of support, trust and communication in a successful marriage. They’ve also learned about the power of love, especially in a year as challenging as 2020. Most of all, they’ve learned just how lucky they are to have each other. “We didn’t know it at the time when we were still at Elon, but everything has worked out perfectly,” John says.

Today, if you walk inside the couple’s Florida home, you’ll find their Elon diplomas and varsity letters proudly displayed together on the wall of their living room. The wall hangings remind them of where their journey together began while serving as inspiration for future chapters of their story.

“My parents met in college and were both athletes,” Catherine says. “So in my mind, this is what you dream of. You dream of going to college, falling in love, finding your forever friends. Everything we did at Elon and everything we went through is the reason we’re able to be where we are now.”