College is where you’re supposed to make some of your best memories and best friends, but in the time of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, that’s a lot harder to do. Specifically, it has been a lot harder for people to put themselves out there and meet potential partners, as online dating can only do so much. But, for people like Nick Krentz and Shannon Martin, finding each other in their Zoom class was all they needed.
Krentz, a graduate student at Montclair State University majoring in physical education, remembers that he could not keep his eyes off of his now-girlfriend Martin, who just graduated in 2020 with a physical education degree. It was in their Adapted Physical Education class with all the faces portrayed in the gallery view of their Zoom class that Krentz first laid eyes on Martin.
“The first thing that struck my eye was, you know, wow this girl is beautiful,” Krentz said. “Which is why you know, I think in the beginning, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.”
Krentz and Martin have forged their own path to finding love in a virtual world. The two knew of each other when their spring 2020 class originally was in person and got to know one another better through Zoom. The couple has become Montclair State’s very own “Zoom Sweethearts.”
Krentz currently works as an EMT and substitute teacher. Martin is a waitress and employee at a CareOne facility.
It was through both of their efforts in a group project that the two really hit it off. Krentz noted he was trying to get her attention in a study group Zoom meeting prior to the project.
“There were times where, you know, I would get bored in class and either change my filters or stuff on my screen and my personal gauge of how funny it would be if she laughed or not,” Krentz said.
Martin was always the first to laugh at Krentz’s antics, as she vividly remembers him doing silly things during class. Once the breakout rooms began, Martin said it was always her and Krentz at the end of the call.
“And we just trailed off on other tangents and it wound up being like three, four-hour Zoom calls together,” Krentz said.
After getting to know each other, Krentz said he quickly learned she had a good heart and personality and had fun talking to her. It was once those Zoom calls turned into actual dates that their virtual relationship became much more real.
Martin said she was nervous about the first date. They went hiking the Friday before Memorial Day weekend. From the initial drive to meet Krentz to the end of the night, her nerves disappeared.
“I just melted into, like, this comfort with him,” Martin said. “And I’ve stayed ever since.”
Krentz also remembers the experience being nerve-wracking for him as well.
“I didn’t know if she was looking for something or if we were just kind of hanging out as friends,” Krentz said.
As the first date went on, they both knew there was a spark. Now, hiking is something they both enjoy together.
Coming up on their one-year anniversary, Krentz and Martin never would have thought they would find their partner virtually through school.
In a typical class setting, Krentz would sit right by the door and dart out of class early for his shifts, while Martin would sit all the way in the front of a 30-40 person lecture. So, in a lot of ways, Zoom made it possible for them to finally connect.
It is safe to say that many can relate to being confined to a square and though virtual learning has not been easy, it has opened up a lot of doors for some. And, it was Krentz and Martin who decided to follow their doors and find one another.
Though not everyone is as brave as these two, they each shared a bit of encouraging advice for the virtual learning world. Krentz admits he has never talked to as many classmates as he has since Zoom was introduced.
“We’re all in the same boat, we’re all trying to figure this out, so you really have to rely on your other classmates to get you through,” Krentz said.
One of those classmates Krentz speaks of was his girlfriend, as they both worked hard to complete their class project and get through the semester together.
Martin still admits it was all so unexpected meeting Krentz.
With plans to finish up graduate school by the end of the year, Krentz is ready to eventually move out of state. As he looks at potential prospects, he talks about his goals with Martin and the great future they see together.
Like them, it is hard for a lot of us to meet new people with a boxed world staring us down, but Krentz and Martin did not let that confine them. Instead, the two took their friendship past the classroom and built a beautiful relationship.
“I did not expect to make any more friends, let alone find myself a boyfriend on Zoom,” Martin said.
The pandemic has set a lot of us back, but it has also guided us forward in our lives and in love. For these two Zoom sweethearts, there is no better love story to tell in the age of a pandemic.