ARLINGTON -- Minor League infielder Nick Solak ran into volleyball star Roxanne McVey in a bar called O’Shea’s Pub in Louisville, Ky. It was hardly love at first sight in the autumn of 2016, and nobody realized what an exciting future lay ahead for both of them.
They had been casual acquaintances for a few years at the University of Louisville, where both had been prominent athletes. Solak had just been drafted by the Yankees in the second round that summer, and Roxanne had been the co-captain of 2015 Louisville volleyball team that won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.
Who was the better athlete?
“Hard to say,” Solak said. “Depends on the sport.”
This was a chance meeting. McVey had graduated and moved away. She was in town for a special volleyball event. Solak took a chance after running into her at the pub.
“I asked her if she wanted to go on a date the next day,” Solak said. “She didn’t think I was serious because we had known each other before as classmates. We had taken a few finance classes together. She didn’t think I was serious, and I followed up the next day.”
They had dinner that night at Sidebar, a restaurant near the basketball arena.
“We have been dating ever since,” Solak said.
Flash forward to autumn of 2019.
The Friday before Thanksgiving, Nick and Roxanne did it again. They met in Louisville at the same pub on Friday and again at the same restaurant Saturday night. The circumstances were different. Much different.
Solak is a Major League player, and McVey is working in the family’s paint and wallcovering company outside Houston. The time was right.
“I walked her back through that first weekend we ever spent together,” Solak said. “Friday night, we went to O’Shea’s, and Saturday night we went to Sidebar. Then I proposed to her. I had it all figured out. She was very surprised. She didn’t think it was going to happen that weekend, but she said yes. It was great.”
McVey said she was not surprised her fiancé went to so much work in preparing for the big moment.
“It was very thought-out by him, which I am not surprised whatsoever,” she said. “Nick is very sentimental, so going back to the spot where we met on our first date and where he proposed was very special.”
Welcome to the wonderful holiday season for the Rangers’ rookie utility player. Solak achieved his childhood dream this past season by reaching the Major Leagues and now is getting ready to walk down the aisle with McVey in January in Houston.
“This holiday season has been great -- getting engaged in Louisville, Thanksgiving, Christmas with our families, everything,” Solak said, “very special.”
Christmas Day will be spent with his parents, Mark and Roseann Solak. Mark Solak worked for Motorola for 30 years, and Nick credits the work ethic he gained from his parents for helping him realize his dream. They were a baseball family, spending many a spring break in Arizona watching their beloved White Sox get ready for the season.
“My whole family will get together on Christmas in Chicago,” Solak said. “I don’t come from a huge family but a close family. My sister Alexis, who just graduated from college and is working, she’ll come back into town. My parents and some of our extended family will come over. My parents will host everybody at their house. We’ll celebrate Christmas as a family and enjoy everybody’s company.”
Then it will be off to Texas to be with McVey’s family, including parents Jana and Glenn McVey. Glenn has owned McVey Paint and Wallcovering, Inc. for almost 31 years -- the company just finished a project at an upscale hotel in Houston -- and Roxanne is now a top assistant.
“This is the first holiday where we have juggled seeing his family in Chicago and my family in Texas, so it will be an adjustment,” Roxanne said. “I’m blown away by all this, and the fact that he is with the Rangers, close to my hometown in Houston, is such a blessing. It has been just a whirlwind of excitement.”
So what is McVey getting for Christmas?
“She is pretty happy with the engagement ring, so anything is an added bonus,” Solak said.
“I have everything I need,” he said.
How about a spot on the Rangers’ Opening Day roster?
“That’s what I am working for,” Solak said.
He has a chance. The Rangers’ roster is far from set at this point in the offseason, but it’s clear that they could use a right-handed hitter who can play both the infield and outfield.
That’s why Nick and Roxanne may forgo a honeymoon until the next offseason. There is much work to do before Spring Training begins in February.
“It’s all pretty exciting,” Solak said. “It’s an exciting time for me, Roxanne, my family, her family. Between the engagement, the holidays, getting geared up for Spring Training, getting to go out there and compete for a spot and help the team win. I can’t wait.”