Let the Fire Burn: How two Arizona State superfans found love through Sun Devils football

Mike Rynne and Amanda Keams found one another at an ASU football tailgate. They've been inseparable ever since.
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She didn't stay long—only for a drink. He thought he missed his chance.

But on her empty glass was a name tag that read "Amanda." Mike was left with enough to track her down in an Arizona State fan Facebook group.

A month later, Mike Rynne and Amanda Keams hit the I-10 together en route to the Sun Devils' Holiday Bowl game in San Diego against Texas Tech.

"And we've been inseparable ever since," Keams said, nearly two years later.

The two lifelong Sun Devil fans first locked eyes the night before the 2013 Territorial Cup, the annual meeting between in-state rivals Arizona State and Arizona, at an event called Sun Devil Summit.

Summits bring together the most passionate ASU fans—some even fly in from around the country. They're held at local bars preceding the biggest games in which ASU plays, and the Territorial Cup editions are the most crowded of all.

"There's just a lot of excitement," Rynne said, before Keams chipped in, "It's just an excuse for ASU people to get together and talk about ASU—and drink."

The couple hasn't missed a Summit since that November night. Rynne had long been a regular of the get-togethers, but this was Keams' first time attending. When she walked into the now-shuttered Firehouse on ASU's notorious Mill Avenue, she didn't know what to expect.

Not long after that, she was expecting.

And on Sept. 24, 2014, Cameron Rynne-Keams was born. With the hyphenated last name, they wanted to find an "F" first and "O" middle name, to create the initials "F-O-R-K."


Photo courtesy of Mike Rynne

"But Mike was so stubborn," Keams said. "Every name I had, it was a no. It got to the point where everyone thought we were lying and had the name picked out and weren't telling them."

So they looked to the football field for inspiration. Sun Devils receiver Cam Smith had caught seven passes and a touchdown so far that season, and that was that. The next day, Smith reeled in eight catches for 95 yards and a touchdown.

But that came in a devastating 62–27 loss to UCLA. Needless to say, the first days of Cam's life in the hospital room were somber ones.

"When ASU does bad and loses, we have a very quiet household," Keams said. "It's almost like we're fighting. That night in the hospital was so quiet. We did not say a word, except to take turns waking up and feeding the baby."

A week later, though, was quite the opposite. With ASU down 34–32 late against USC, Keams and Rynne were doing their best to watch silently while baby Cam slept. But when Jaelen Strong came down in the end zone with the miracle bomb from Mike Bercovici as time expired, giving the Sun Devils a 38–34 win, they couldn't contain themselves. Cam's eyes opened and the "Jael Mary" became his first football experience.

Footage of the throw now acts better than a pacifier. A video of them showing the Jael Mary to a crying Cam gifted a brief moment of internet stardom to the couple, when Cam's tears immediately stopped flowing the moment Strong landed in the end zone.

"It still works," Rynne said, still with a look of astonishment.

The first and only game Cam has attended came later that season when the Sun Devils knocked off No. 10 Notre Dame. While the 14-month-old hasn't been back to Sun Devil Stadium since, his season-ticket-holder parents won't let him grow up in anything but maroon and gold.

Evan Webeck is SI's campus correspondent at Arizona State University. Follow him on Twitter.