From Houchens-Smith Stadium to the NFL: The story of Devon and Kristen

Lynda Eernisse, Sports Reporter

WKU Football alumnus Devon Key and his partner Kristen Dadisman have been together since the start of their college journeys in 2017. The two have been through a lot.

Dadisman became pregnant, the pair welcomed their son Drace into the world, they graduated from the Hill and moved across the country to Kansas City, Missouri, after Key was picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs.

The couple met through Instagram when Key directly messaged Dadisman one day in September 2016. Key was a freshman at WKU while Dadisman was a sophomore studying at the University of Kentucky.

After talking for a few weeks through social media, the two decided to meet in person. Dadisman made the trip down to Bowling Green.

Not too long after this encounter, the pair made things official in February 2017. They entered a long-distance relationship for about a year before moving in together in the summer of 2018.

“At first I was actually living in Louisville, so we would switch off weekends,” Dadisman said. “We did long distance for about a year, and then I transferred to Western.”

Besides wanting to be closer to her boyfriend, Dadisman was drawn to the Hill for educational reasons.

“I wanted to be a teacher at the time and Western had a really good education program too, so that’s what kind of pushed me as well,” Dadisman said.

Another opportunity Dadisman had when she transferred to WKU was to join the co-ed cheerleading team.

Between classes, practices, workouts, treatments and other demands, Dadisman and Key struggled to find time for each other even as they were living together, but were eventually able to find a routine that worked.

“After about a year or so, it made it a little bit easier because I knew what to expect,” Key said.

One highlight from this stressful period was Dadisman cheering on the sidelines for a couple of Key’s football games. Dadisman continues to cheer for Key today, but now she supports him from the bleachers of the Chief’s Arrowhead Stadium.

The road to Key’s pro football career was far from smooth. The couple found out in November 2019 that they were expecting – at this point, the two were still in school and had been together for just three years.

“We weren’t ready because we were still in school and had other things we wanted to accomplish,” Dadisman said. “It was really shocking and we just couldn’t believe it.”

Regardless, they decided to stick it out and stay on course. Dadisman worked towards finishing school and getting her degree and Key continued his efforts on the field and graduated in spring 2020.

“At that point, I was so close to being done,” Dadisman said. “I was like, ‘if I don’t do it now, I feel like I’ll never get it done.’”

On Aug. 13, 2020, the duo welcomed Drace Key to the world.

Photo provided by Kristen Dadisman

From there, they were Drace’s primary caretakers save for the occasional help of one another’s parents. For the most part, they did it all on their own.

A few months later, the trio received more life-changing news. Key was signed by the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent, prompting the family to relocate to Kansas City and leave behind friends and family.

“It wasn’t too bad, just knowing we were out there for a reason, a good reason,” Key said.

Looking back on when they first met, Dadisman and Key would have never guessed that this is what their lives would look like today. They wouldn’t change a thing.

“Who would’ve known this would be our life right now, it just feels so crazy,” Dadisman said.

“I wouldn’t change anything because then we wouldn’t have Drace,” Key said.

The pair offered solid advice to anyone, especially in college, that may find themselves in a similar dynamic.

“Dating an athlete is very hard because there’s a lot that can affect your relationship, you have to be more understanding and know they go through a lot,” Dadisman said.

Key touched on the fact that athletes shouldn’t let their performance determine their mood.

“Separate as much as possible,” Key said. “Separate the relationship from your sport, and don’t let it drag you down.”

The Key family currently lives happily in Kansas City as they prepare for the 2022 season. Their journey can be followed through their respective instagrams @_kdad and @famousdev2_.

Sports Reporter Lynda Eernisse can be reached at [email protected]