‘Be my best catch ever’

UWL Alums Jackson Baumgart, ’16, and Rachel Lee,’17, first met at UW-La Crosse in 2016. Photo by Logan Wright

Alum finds a reel-ly exciting way to pop the big question

UWL Alumnus Jackson Baumgart put an exciting spin on a January fishing trip.

Out on the frozen waters of Fox Lake, Baumgart met his girlfriend, Aluma Rachel Lee, for a morning of ice fishing — one of the many ways the couple enjoys the great outdoors.

What Lee didn’t know was that Baumgart had lowered a bottle of champagne into the hole in the ice and beneath Baumgart’s winter gear was a bow tie and tuxedo.

“I always knew I wanted to do something unique when I asked the love of my life to marry me,” says Baumgart, ’16,’19.

When Lee heard the call, “tip-up” she checked her line for a fish and pulled up a bottle with the words: “Let’s make this o‘fish’ial. Be my best catch ever.”

“Honestly, I didn’t figure out it was a proposal until I turned around and saw Jackson on one knee!” she recalls. “When I realized it, I started thinking, ‘I can’t believe this is happening!’ — in the best way possible.”

The fact that a camera was filming them wasn’t out of the ordinary as Baumgart and Lee’s cousin, Logan Wright, are always filming their outdoor adventures together. Jackson even has his own YouTube channel.

Baumgart says he wanted to capture the moment to look back on and share with their future children.

The idea of a marriage proposal out on the ice was spurred by Baumgart’s passion for fishing, the couple’s love of the outdoors, as well as ideas from friends, family and his seventh-grade students and basketball players at Holmen Middle School.

Lee and Baumgart met at UW-La Crosse in 2016 when Lee was a junior and Baumgart a senior. They connected after seeing each other everywhere on campus.

UWL Alums Jackson Baumgart, ’16, and Rachel Lee,’17 loved their time at UWL so much that they decided to return to complete a master’s program last year and graduated together.

“Since we were both education majors, I would see him at Morris (Hall). He was a Vanguard and I worked in the alumni center, so we would pass by each other when I was at work,” says Lee. “We also lived across the street from each other! When we officially met, we both felt an instant connection, and the rest is history.”

The couple recall their time on campus together whether it was a productive night studying at the Murphy Library or going for a run around the track of the football field.

Baumgart and Lee are currently both teachers in the La Crosse area. Baumgart teaches 7th grade science at Holmen Middle School and Lee teaches third grade at Eagle Bluff in Onalaska.

“We loved UWL so much that we decided to go back for our master’s program [ Master of Education Professional Development] last year and graduated from that program together! UWL will always hold a special spot in our hearts,” says Baumgart.