Two athletes share their love story


Wyatt Bible/The Collegian

Valentine’s Day graphic.

By Carlos Rene Castro, Multimedia Reporter

Maria Lawson and Garrett Ostrinski first locked eyes at a track bonding at a teammate’s house. 

Once the get-together ended, Lawson needed a car ride home, so she texted her brother to pick her up. Ostrinski saw his opportunity to get to know Lawson and offered her a ride home. 

At first, Lawson kindly rejected the offer but quickly changed her mind.

“I texted my brother, and I was like, ‘Never mind, my teammate is taking me home,’ ” Lawson said.

The route to Lawson’s home was out of Ostrinski’s way, but he was OK with the added distance.

“I thought she was kind of cute,” Ostrinski said.

Fresno State student-athletes and couple Maria Lawson and Garrett Ostrinski laugh while strolling through Campus Pointe on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Carlos Rene Castro/The Collegian)

When Ostrinski dropped Lawson off at her home, Lawson was skeptical about telling her parents, especially her father, about who dropped her off. She fabricated an excuse and told her parents that her teammate Amelia DiPaola had taken her home. 

“He probably would have gotten a little angry that a man took me home,” Lawson said.

Lawson and Ostrinski have been dating for a year and a few months now. The couple are both track and field athletes for Fresno State. The young athletic couple have contrasting journeys to Fresno State, but they found themselves in love with each other and managing a relationship as collegiate athletes. 

Lawson, 20, is a homegrown student-athlete. The psychology major is from Clovis, and graduated from Buchanan High School. 

Growing up in the Central Valley, she knew that she wanted to attend Fresno State at an early age.

“Fresno State was the school I really wanted to go to,” Lawson said.

Lawson competes in the hammer throw, an event in which a hammer is launched for distance, using two hands within a throwing circle.

Lawson and Ostrinski browse through a rack of jeans. (Carlos Rene Castro/The Collegian)

Ostrinski is a pre-veterinary major from Riverside who initially had a different connection to Fresno State.

“I didn’t even know Fresno State existed,” he said.

Ostrinski was a multisport star athlete in football and track and field during high school. He had division two offers in football and track and field during his senior year. Going into his first track meet of the season, Ostrinski emailed different coaches seeking a spot as a decathlete and received fascinating news. 

“I got an email from my now coach at that time,” Ostrinski said

He then stopped by Fresno State for a visit and knew he was at the right place.

“Originally, I wanted to leave the state and like to go far away,” Ostrinski said. “It’s pretty nice being close to home.” 

During the early stages of their relationship, finding the time to see each other was difficult. As student-athletes, much of their time is spent training, in the gym or hitting the books. Ostrinski and Lawson only had time on weekends to go on dates to get to know each other. 

“Being an athlete is like a full-time job,” Ostrinski said.

The Fresno State couple has similar yet contrasting schedules during the week while they are in season for track and field. However, they still manage to keep the love strong. From 9:30-10:40 a.m., Lawson and Ostrinski are in class. Shortly after, they have practice from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Then, they have another class from 2-3:15 p.m.

Lawson holds a Lakers jersey. (Carlos Rene Castro/The Collegian)

Following class, they have an hour session of weight training from 4-5 p.m. Then, after weight training, Ostrinski attends his last class from 5-6:20 p.m. 

On the other hand, after Lawson is done training, she attends a recovery session to ease her muscles from a robust workout. Before bed, the couple either goes to the library or study hall to study and finish homework.

With packed schedules and limited time to see each other, Ostrinski said that being on the same team has perks. Lawson and Ostrinski travel together and are in the same vicinity during their track and field meets. Although they compete in different events and are spread out on the track, the love and support for each other is in the air.

“It feels amazing just to have someone there supporting me all the time,” Lawson said.

Lawson and Ostrinski enjoy the simple pleasures of everyday life together  outside of competition and schooling. 

Lawson enjoys going to Ostrinski’s apartment to cook dinner, lying on the couch and watching episodes of their recent favorite show, “Survivor.” Ostrinski’s specialty: fideo, a Mexican thin spaghetti soup simmered in a tomato sauce seasoned with spices. 

Lawson and Ostrinski have been dating for a year. (Carlos Rene Castro/The Collegian)

As a couple, they both have created special memories through time, but one recollection stands out more than the others.  

For Halloween, Lawson and Ostrinski dressed as the comedy duo Cheech and Chong.

“That was probably my favorite,” Lawson said. 

Lawson and Ostrinski show affection for each other in various ways. At the start of their relationship, it took time for the couple to adjust to each other’s love languages.

For Lawson, her love language is physical touch and words of affirmation. She loves when Ostrinski tells her she is beautiful or he opens doors for her. Ostrinski enjoys spending quality time with Lawson and spoiling her with gifts. In return, Ostrinski appreciates when Lawson buys gifts for him.  

“It’s nice to know they’re thinking about you,” Ostrinski said. 

Dating in today’s digital world is not easy, but they credit patience to a successful relationship.

Coming from a distinct family structure, learning to communicate and being vulnerable was a difficult adjustment, particularly for Lawson.

“I came from a family where we don’t talk about our feelings,” Lawson said.

Ostrinski comes from a family where feelings are openly shared, and issues are addressed instantly. It was difficult for Ostrinski to understand Lawson’s emotions.

The couple met for the first time a friend’s hangout party. (Carlos Rene Castro/The Collegian)

“I think it just took a lot of patience,” Ostrinski said.

But challenges are not far along for the athletic couple as they continue their love story.

Ostrinski graduates next year. He plans to apply to veterinary school to continue his education in animal science. The University of Illinois, The University of Florida and The University of Tennessee are a few of the schools that Ostrinski is applying to.

However, Lawson graduates in two years. They have frequent discussions regarding a potential long-distance relationship, but the couple remains hopeful that they will push through the struggles of dating from afar.

“Distance is going to be very difficult, but we can make it work,” Lawson said.

In the meantime, Lawson and Ostrinski are figuring out their plans for Valentine’s Day. This year, Feb. 14 is on Tuesday, which made it difficult for the couple to make plans, but Ostrinski has a surprise in store for Lawson for the Day of the Lovers.

“I like to be surprised,” Lawson said.