Purcellville, Va. (March 6, 2015) – Here’s one of life’s great lessons: Never make a bet with a teenage girl.
Especially when prom is on the line…
Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Emmanuel Acho learned this the hard way.
On Friday, February 20, Acho came to Woodgrove High School to formally ask junior Hannah Delmonte to the school’s prom May 9. How he got to that point is quite a story.
It started when Hannah tweeted Acho asking him if he’d go to the prom as her date if she got 2,000 re-tweets of her request. Acho was at his brother Sam’s house in Arizona when he received her tweet. (Sam Acho is a linebacker for the Cardinals.)
“I was like ‘She might get 2,000, but if I say 10,000 there’s no way.’…It never happens.”
“Boy were you wrong,” said Hannah.
A devoted Eagles fan, Hannah started tweeting Acho’s teammates to get some help. Soon safety Malcolm Jenkins, guard Evan Mathis and quarterback Matt Barkley were helping Hannah make her prom dream come true. “All the guys who would like to get a good chuckle out of me at a high school prom,” said Acho.
So how – you might ask – did Hannah decide on asking Acho, in particular, to the prom?
“It started when I saw all the guys asking their friends if they could take their sisters and moms to prom,” said Hannah. “And I was like ‘I don’t want to take anybody’s sister or mom to prom; I’d rather take an Eagle.”
“Go Birds!” Acho interjected enthusiastically.
But why this particular Eagle?
“First I had to narrow it down to who didn’t have wives or girlfriends,” said Hannah. “That would have been kind of awkward.”
Hannah sat behind the Eagles defensive unit at a game and narrowed the field on potential prom dates. “All I could see is him (Acho) and Malcolm Jenkins and Malcolm Jenkins is taken. Then, I thought he’d be my best bet over Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy.”
Note to guys still looking for a prom date: niceness counts.
Hannah watched running back McCoy and wide receiver Maclin with an eye toward how they interacted with their peers. “I saw both of them trash talking and I thought ‘Maybe I should take a nicer guy.’ I did get lucky, he’s really nice.”
“I grew up in a well-mannered environment; a well-mannered household with siblings,” added Acho.
Acho was humbled to beat out some high-profile teammates in the prom selection process. “Those are pretty big-name guys, so I’m just glad that I’m the lucky candidate.”
One of Acho’s well-mannered siblings, Chi Chi, a pre-natal doctor, came along with him on February 20. “I told her to take a couple of days off and come with me to Virginia.” Acho said his sister, who will be his chaperone at the prom, is his measuring stick for whether his date is sane.
“I think I’m pretty sane,” said Hannah. (Except maybe for the whole “asking a professional athlete to the prom” thing.)
Acho said this will be a unique experience for him because, besides the obvious reason, he’s never been to a prom. “I didn’t go to prom in high school. I went to an all-boys’ school in North Dallas, a private school called St. Mark’s. So we didn’t have a prom, we had a Marksman’s Ball. Your parents were there and they showed videos of the kids growing up through the years, so it was a lot different from your traditional prom… This is a first for me, so Hannah will probably have more experience than me in this field.”
As Acho quickly learned, there’s a lot of bumps in the road to as successful prom. First, what to wear? (Hannah has already picked out an Eagles green dress.)
“I might go very traditional with black, or I might not.”
As Acho rhetorically explored some bolder wardrobe options, Hannah’s reaction was quick and decisive.
“No, no, no, no…”
“She’s already putting her foot down,” said Acho, quickly realizing the pecking order in this relationship. “She’s got to call the shots, it’s her prom.”
Asking Hannah to the prom involved more than Acho hanging around her locker waiting for the right moment to ask the big question. He’s working on his master’s in sports psychology at the University of Texas. Acho flew in the night before with the intention of surprising Hannah in chemistry class.
Two days before he arrived, Hannah tweeted him that it was really cold and that she hated going to school in lousy weather. His reply was swift: “Don’t skip class young lady.”
Then school was cancelled Friday because of the cold.
That’s where Principal Sam Shipp stepped in to save the day. Shipp told Hannah’s mother, Mary, to bring Hannah to school. The reason stated to Hannah was that Shipp had to call the superintendent’s office to see if Acho attending the prom was OK.
“Little did she know that I was the superintendent she was having to talk to,” said Acho.
After a quick meeting with mother and daughter in his conference room, Shipp told Hannah to wait in the main office while he called the superintendent. As soon as she rounded the corner, Hannah was greeted by Acho (bearing a Prom 15 Eagles jersey), a crew from Eagles TV, several of her friends and her dad, David, and brother, John. (The whole Delmonte family approves of Hannah’s prom date.)
Acho said he knew that Hannah wouldn’t guess he was coming to Woodgrove.
“The likelihood that an NFL player will leave 60 degree weather, fly to Purcellville, Virginia, negative-2-degree weather, and come to high school; not likely. There’s no way she’ll catch on.”
Acho said he was touched by Hannah’s reaction to the surprise.
“I think I saw a few tears.”
“So yeah, OK, I’m sorry,” said Hannah quickly.
As for future twitter bets…
“I’m not taking Internet wagers, that’s for sure,” said Acho. “I’ve gotten some offers since then and I’ve declined them all. But this one; this one I’m excited about.”