From Bourbon Street to Old Louisville, Chad and Chelle Wabrek thrive on their crazy schedules, the company of a packed house and most importantly each other.
Before the interview got underway Chad (who coaches lacrosse at Collegiate) said, “A lot of my responses will be dated by pre, during or post lacrosse season.”
While some couples might struggle with having to transition around lacrosse season, Chad struck gold with his biggest fan and wife, Chelle, a fourth-grade teacher at Collegiate who has made sure their kids never miss a game – or a Mardi Gras.
This energetic, fun-loving couple sat down with me in Chelle’s classroom at Collegiate to share their secrets for finding order in chaos and the meaning of balancing work and play.
How did you meet?
Chad, originally from New England and Chelle, who spent most of her time in New Orleans, met in Conneticut while teaching at the same boarding school.
“Chad was the dean of students, the big bad meanie, and I helped plan weekend activities to keep kids out of trouble which was fun,” Chelle said.
“So they’d go in his office and get in big trouble then come to me crying saying, “˜He’s so mean,’ and I’d give them cookies,” Chelle said with a grin as Chad nodded.
“One child is from Chad’s first marriage and two are mine. It’s wonderful!” Chelle said.
After knowing each other for three years, the couple made a spontaneous decision and got married on New Year’s Eve 2004.
“We were visiting my parents,” Chelle recalled.
“We got home and however the conversation went I said, “˜Let’s get married.’ My dad was a chaplain in the army for 20 years so he was able to marry us. The kids came down in their pajamas, my dad dressed up as Santa Claus, we turned the clocks ahead so the kids thought it was midnight and we set it all up right there in the living room.”
“When we returned to Connecticut we celebrated with a big party with friends,” Chad said.
How did you end up in Louisville?
Eight months after getting married the couple moved to Louisville.
“Back when I first graduated college I applied for a job at Tulane in their admissions department (where Chelle attended graduate school), so I was already looking to move south. I’m a Yankee fan at heart,” Chad proudly admitted. “So I knew that once we moved from New England we weren’t going back.”
“I couldn’t live there another second,” Chelle said. She desired to be South and considers the 10-hour drive back home to New Orleans a breeze.
The fact that Chelle and Chad were both able to find jobs at Collegiate and Chad could coach lacrosse was the “perfect conflagration of events,” Chelle said.
“Louisville was just the perfect fit,” the couple confirmed.
“We like to be busy, we stick to a schedule, we’re perfectionists. Our life is hectic, between Chad coaching lacrosse and the boys sports we have 4,000 practices to get to, our entire year is already marked on the calendar. So it really helps that we agree on how the world should run,” Chelle said.
“We are organized and efficient yet can be spontaneous,” Chad said.
“Food is also a HUGE part of making it work. In New Orleans food is love and a big part of how we spend time together,” Chelle said. “We are both extroverts and feel refueled by being around people, we love entertaining. We also love to eat.”
“Chelle is an unbelievable cook,” gushed Chad.
“The other thing that really helps is that we work together,” Chelle added.
“For some that might be hard, but it helps for us to get excited about projects at school. We can collaborate professionally and be on the same page.”
Do you have a system for dividing up household chores?
“He does ALL the laundry and doesn’t leave it in a big heap, he folds it,” Chelle said.
“I like to think I take direction very well,” Chad confirmed.
“I, stick to a process. I’m an old-school chore kind of guy to the point where I won’t give in. I’ll tell the kids to go put their clothes away and what I really mean is do it now,” he added.
“Where Chelle does a better job of adding the “¦” as Chad drew a, blank, Chelle completed his sentence, “finesse,” she added.
Chelle used to nanny for The Neville Brothers in New Orleans, and the couple enjoys live music and has gone to the Forecastle Festival the last three summers.
“This is where my non-traditional side comes out,” Chad said. “I have a tendency to want to do on-the-spot dinners or random vacations. You can find us eating a burger sitting at the bar at Jack Fry’s.”
“The real key to our marriage is I like sports as much as he does,” Chelle said.
Chelle’s dad played football for Ohio State.
Is there anything you always do as a couple?
“I’m sure there are millions of little things we do but in particular, every morning Chad asks, “˜What tie goes with this shirt?’ ” Chelle said. “He has a limited amount of ties and a limited amount of shirts but every morning it’s the same conversation.”
“Its not like she has to lay my clothes out the night before,” Chad laughed as he, defended himself. “But it is part of our morning ritual.”
“We sit on the couch and grade papers and we have a ton of Collegiate events we do together,” Chelle said.
“Chad is the master of ceremonies for the Collegiate Gala coming up and I am making a signature drink for the night. Another thing we always do is throw team-building exercises for the lacrosse team. Whether it’s a pizza party at our house or just making sure the team eats breakfast together before Saturday morning games, being at Collegiate is huge for us not just as teachers or a family but as a couple,” Chelle said.
What advice would you offer to couples who desire to walk together through life in tandem?
“Every couple is different. The way your marriage runs is such a personal choice. Lots of people might look at the kind of schedule we keep for ourselves and think we’re crazy. It’s not just about carving out a, date night, but every couple needs to find what works for them,” Chelle said.
“We like to be busy and it works for us,” Chad added. “It might not be traditional but it fits our needs and wants.”
“So you’re stuck with me,” Chelle said.
“And I’m fine with that,” Chad said.
“He says “˜yes dear’ very well,” Chelle added. “He has all the rules figured out.”
Dec. 31, 2004
The couple, their three boys and three dogs all reside in Old Louisville.
Three sons: Asher (14), Auden (10) and Trillin (8). Their dogs are, Ouiser (named after Shirley MacLaine’s character in “Steel Magnolias”), Stella and Deuce (after Deuce McAllister before he retired from the New Orleans Saints).
Chelle, a graduate from Colgate and Tulane univsetities is a fourth-grade teacher at Collegiate. Chad coaches lacrosse and teaches English at Collegiate and will take over as director of athletics this summer.
Category: In Tandem
About the Author (Author Profile)
Voice-Tribune Staff Writer Lauren DePaso enjoys being a tourist in her own city, exploring the nightlife and cheering on the Cards. A Louisville native, she currently resides in St. Matthews.