“Everybody, let’s get outside for a family photo,” someone shouted on The Sled, a cardinal and white Ford Econoline RV that’s hosted tailgates at Scheumann Stadium for the last 17 years.
It was just before 2 p.m. on Homecoming and everyone lined up in front of the RV. That's when former Ball State football captain Ben Ingle turned to his left, dropped to one knee and whipped out a grey box with a diamond ring.
Ball State alumna Anna Phares said yes.
“How did everyone know and not tell me?” Anna said to both her family and Ben’s afterwards.
Maybe Anna should’ve known. They’ve been together for about four years after meeting in a psychology class at Ball State taught by Dr. Ronald Truelove (because of course it was). On Wednesday they had an argument about why Ben hadn’t proposed yet.
She didn’t know it, but Ben was already on her side — he bought the ring that morning.
“I got my butt chewed because I hadn’t proposed yet so It was kind of awkward because I just bought the ring five hours before,” Ben said. “I had to keep a poker face.”
Ben’s smile grew as he told family and friends about Anna’s timing.
“Why did we get in our big fight?” Anna said to Ben, the only time her smile flickered.
Ben told his family he bought the ring on Wednesday, and he visited Anna’s family on Thursday morning after telling Beth Lennen, Anna’s mom, that he needed to pick up his golf clubs.
“I really thought he was there for his golf clubs,” Lennen said. “I just started crying, I was so excited. And I love that they did it here because this is where they met and we have such fond memories here.”
He told everyone that he was planning to ask around 2 p.m. Lennen was originally supposed to work that evening, but she got her shift covered.
“That was even more confusing and I didn’t understand why my mom was so excited to come to homecoming because she’s never come,” Anna said. “So I just kind of thought all of the sudden she wanted to go to Ball State.”
Ben’s brother, Brody Ingle, was even at Scheumann to see it. The high school football player is being recruited by Ball State and was on his official visit. Brody is also being recruited by Indiana.
Michael P. Smith, a member of the Ball State University Foundation’s board of directors and a regular at the tailgate, congratulated Ben.
“I told your brother he doesn’t have a choice now,” Smith said to Ben.
Anna was more concerned with figuring out who knew what, as well as when they knew it. Ann Lantis had a quick response when Anna asked when she knew Ben would propose.
“About five years ago,” Ann Lantis joked. Lantis and her husband Ed are the owners of The Sled, which has made it to 91 consecutive Ball State home games.
Anna wanted to know every detail. When he said he picked up the ring on Friday, Anna couldn’t remember when he had the time to do that.
“What was I doing, taking a nap?” Anna asked Ben.
Anna’s step-dad, Tony Lennen, said he’s happy the two got engaged.
“I think Anna and Ben are like the perfect couple. First of all, they’re high-character, high-integrity, smart, hard-working kids. Both come from hard-working families. Plus they’re really handsome.”
Anna and Ben both graduated from Ball State in December 2015. Anna studied public relations and Ben studied criminal justice. Ben said that’s part of why he chose to propose at Homecoming.
“It’s special for the both of us to have family and loved ones here, and it just meant a lot to do it here at Ball State.”
Michael Smith and Ed Lantis were Editors-in-Chief of the Daily News in the 1970s and ‘80s. Ann Lantis is a former DN copy editor.