Couples podcast: A team on and off the sidelines
Doug Meffley's and Maureen Palchak’s offices are mere feet apart in the athletics department, so they’ve taken up an unusual behavior at office meetings in order to keep their work-turned-personal relationship professional
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This is a Northwestern Now podcast. Coming up in this episode, the story of a Northwestern pair who has Wildcat Football to thank for their relationship. They literally look into each other’s offices in the athletics department. Yet it took years for some coworkers to even realize they were married. Coming up – the strange thing this husband and wife team does at office meetings to keep their work-turned-personal relationship professional.
Maureen: And then I’m also the liaison with the City of Evanston, to make sure we’re being good neighbors and good partners. I also oversee donations from the department – whether we’re donating tickets to a non-profit benefit or signed footballs and basketballs, those go through my area.
If you’ve ever been to a Northwestern softball game, you’re already familiar with Doug’s voice. Doug has been emceeing softball and basketball games at Northwestern for years, but his day job is a bit less verbose. He is in charge of web and social media for the athletics department, communicating his thoughts in 140 characters or less. It’s not what he initially set out to do when he pursued journalism as a Northwestern student.
Doug: I came to Northwestern as an undergrad with dreams of being a sports writer. I got this as a work study my sophomore year and ended up liking it so much that I stayed. I tell people this is my work study job that I never left.
Doug and Maureen also have a toddler named Jackson.
Maureen: He has lots of purple, and he’s a regular at games.
Doug: I may have strategically deployed him in a few ways on our video board.
Maureen: He likes to clap at basketball games. He’s a good little fan.
(Maureen and Doug with their son, Jackson)
Before baby, came love and marriage, so let’s take you back to the beginning.
Doug: We met here at Northwestern. She worked in the ticket office at the time, and I was in my current role. It’s a good story because she was incessantly trying to set me up with friends of hers. We were down at the 2010 Outback Bowl after the 2009 football season. We were out one night with a group of people, and she was on it again with a particular person. She wanted to put her phone number into my phone.
Maureen: It was her birthday, so I thought he should wish her a happy birthday.
Doug: Finally I said, ‘I don’t want her number. I want your number.’ And she was like, ‘oh.’
Maureen: I looked at you a little differently then, like, ‘Oh, you’re fun.’
Two years later, they were married.
Maureen: When you get engaged, some people were surprised we were even dating. Then we got married, and there was one person when I was pregnant…
Doug: We had our baby, so we’d been together, what? Probably five years at that point. We had a staff member who congratulated her on the baby, and she said, ‘You know who the father is?’
Maureen: And my husband.
Doug: And your husband yeah. He had no idea.
Maureen: He was shocked. He had no idea.
Maureen says that was actually by design.
Maureen: You don’t want to make a big deal of it in your workplace.
Doug: You see the theme of how we try to separate personal and professional in different ways. You see it play out in meetings too, where we generally sit across the room from each other. We literally sit on opposite walls. You can’t get any farther away from each other.
Maureen: Not intentionally. It was never intentional.
Doug: We try to keep work professional and keep personal personal.
But they can’t be completely separate since Doug helps to publicize the athletic outreach events Maureen organizes.
Maureen: I think your awareness for the necessity around the city is heightened because of what I’m dealing with or what I’m trying to make a priority. That’s a natural collaboration that isn’t intentional but happens naturally. You’re like, ‘Oh, I should tag this or that.
Doug: It’s intentional for me because I know from her role the benefits of our official accounts tagging the city, or city organizations using hashtags for specific things is beneficial.
Maureen: Or keeping an eye on things when our students are out at a school and the school will tweet it, he’s more aware than others might be because the night before, he knows who’s going where or what’s going on. Thanks for being intentional.
No surprise, Doug and Maureen are both big Northwestern Wildcats fans. In a weird way, the success of Northwestern’s football team is sort of reflective of the success of their marriage.
Doug: Starting our dating at the Outback Bowl and being able to go back with the team this year was a really fun celebration. There’s a tradition in Northwestern football: we go to bowl games. And in our positions, we go to bowl games to work them. Every year it’s been that with New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, there’s always the celebration of when we met and began dating that’s inherent around Northwestern football success in bowls.
Northwestern is more than just a workplace for Doug and Maureen. It’s part of their lives, their story.
Maureen: It’s just what we know. If you have the passion, it doesn’t feel like work. Nights get long, and weekends get long, but it’s fantastic. We love it and appreciate it, and we want to do whatever we can to make this athletic department succeed. It’s an important piece of our family. The whole Northwestern athletics is an important piece of our family. It is our family.
Doug: It’s our family. It’s our alma mater. I have two degrees from here. Maureen has one. You have extra pride in that for sure.
This has been a Northwestern Now podcast. I’m Kayla Stoner. Thanks for listening. If you like what you heard, check out our other couples podcasts on our website, Northwestern.edu.