PSU QB, basketball player get off the bench and into marriage

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Former Portland State quarterback Connor Kavanaugh (left) re-enacts his wedding proposal to former PSU basketball player Lexi Bishop atop Council Crest Park.Former Portland State quarterback Connor Kavanaugh and two friends were sipping beers at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse two weeks ago.

The conversation turned to Kavanaugh’s 5 1/2-year relationship with former PSU basketball player Lexi Bishop.

Kavanaugh admitted that he had bought a ring. He just had not gotten around to popping The Question.

Stephen Scott and Jon French, who met Kavanaugh through Brothers in Christ, both said the same thing: “Do it tomorrow.”


After a standout career at Lincoln High, Kavanaugh was on the fence about whether he wanted to play football at Idaho or Portland State.

Bishop, from Spokane, looked at several schools, but ultimately decided to play basketball for the Vikings.

Now, more than six years later, Bishop sometimes thinks about what might have happened if Kavanaugh had decided to go to Idaho (not far from Spokane) or if she had decided to go somewhere other than Portland State. They might never have met.

“If he had gone to Idaho, it would have almost been like we traded places,” she says. “The way God works and the way life brings people together, it’s crazy.”

Both of them laugh about the first time they saw each other. It was their freshman year on the Park Blocks.

“We always tell people we wish we had a cooler story,” Bishop says.

It’s cool enough, though.

It was 9:30 a.m. in October 2007. Kavanaugh walked into the PSU weight room in shorts and a sweat-soaked T-shirt. Bishop was leaving in shorts and a sweat-soaked T-shirt.

“It wasn’t the most romantic of first setting eyes on each other,” Kavanaugh says.

Still, they made an impression on each other.

Kavanaugh remembers telling his friends: “I want to meet that girl.”

Bishop was even more certain about Kavanaugh.

“That boy looks like a guy I would marry someday,” she thought.

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Connor Kavanaugh and Lexi Bishop, who became friends and more during their PSU athletic careers, plan to take time to plan their wedding.


During the past few months, Kavanaugh and Bishop talked about hiring a tutor to help them learn Spanish.

That provided the perfect cover for Kavanaugh’s proposal plan.

He told Bishop they were going to hook up with a Spanish teacher at 6 p.m. on a Thursday at Council Crest Park.

When they got there, of course, no Spanish teacher was in sight.

Meanwhile, Scott and French were walking around the Council Crest lookout point, their cameras at the ready. They dressed incognito so Bishop would not recognize them.

As Kavanaugh and Bishop stood at the lookout point, taking in the panoramic view of the city, Kavanaugh had his cell phone in one hand, pretending to be emailing the nonexistent Spanish teacher.

“Well, gosh, how long do you want to wait for this teacher?” Kavanaugh asked.

“I don’t know, maybe 15 minutes,” Bishop said.

“Well, how long do YOU want to wait?” Kavanaugh asked.

“I don’t know,” Bishop said, looking confused.

Kavanaugh smiled.

This was the moment. From long-range, Scott and French began firing away with their cameras.

“I think we’ve waited long enough,” Kavanaugh said.

He dropped to one knee.


By serendipity, Kavanaugh and Bishop met at a post-football game party. A few months later, they were a couple.

“It just came easy from the get-go,” he says. “We didn’t really have to work too hard to make it work. It was just a fit.”

As their college athletic careers unfolded the next few years, they leaned on each other for support.

“Athletes at Portland State

really stick together,” Kavanaugh says. “We all had the same friends. As we got more

mature through sports, we grew together.

“When you have two different schedules, you don’t get a lot of time to spend together. But we got to spend a lot of time together when it actually counted.”

Says Bishop: “We had an understanding of what each other was going through. Being able to go through that together was really special.”

by: TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - Connor Kavanaugh, a standout at Lincoln High, proved to be a winning quarterback and feared runner out of the pocket at Portland State.By his junior year, the 6-foot Kavanaugh was the Vikings’ starting quarterback. He finished his PSU career as the Big Sky’s all-time leading single-season rusher (1,060 yards) and career rusher (1,959 yards) fora QB.

Bishop started at guard all four years (2007-11) at PSU. As a senior, the 5-8 guard was named the Vikings’ best defensive player.

Then they entered the real world. Bishop became an executive assistant in Portland. Kavanaugh took a job as a financial adviser.

Life was different. But they still had each other.

“I feel so good with him, and so content,” Bishop says. “We always challenge each other with new things. We’ve both been really busy getting our feet on the ground with our new careers. But, relationship-wise, it hasn’t been any different.”


Before Kavanaugh knelt before Bishop atop Council Crest, he told himself that he was going to take out his cell phone and record what he said to her. He forgot to do that, though, and for the life of him, he cannot remember exactly what he said.

“You try to let your heart speak,” he says. “I’m hoping it did.”

Bishop’s word was the only one that mattered. She said yes.

by: TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO: KATIE HARTLEY - Lexi Bishop (right), handling the ball in a 2008 Portland State game, started most of her four seasons with the Vikings womens basketball team.


They have tentatively planned to marry in summer 2015, but it is important to both of them that they take their time.

“We’re both people who don’t like to be rushed,” Bishop says. “We’re going to have everything planned and make it as perfect as possible.”

Kavanaugh says “It’s like getting ready for a football game. There were times when we got to the stadium late and you feel a little rushed, kind of jittery. I see this process as more or less the same. I want to make sure we have all our ducks in a row and everything taken care of.”

Besides, he says, “once I looked at the first payment for the ring, I realized I’ve got to get my butt in gear with work.”

So now Kavanaugh and Bishop will prepare for the biggest of “football games,” each believing that their life together will be as smooth as it was while dating at Portland State.

“There’s no study hall or homework anymore,” Kavanaugh says, “but we have stayed the same. I see that being true for the next 80 years.”

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