- Associated Press - Monday, February 20, 2017

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) - Virginia Tech graduate Ellen Gunter’s in-laws say she’s a thorn among roses.

Depending on your allegiances in the Virginia-Virginia Tech in-state rivalry, you might see it the other way around.

Ellen Gunter, who graduated from the Virginia Tech Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in 2006, married University of Virginia Cavalier fan Aaron Gunter two years ago. The joshing from the in-laws is a common occurrence.

“Unless it’s after a football game,” she said with a smile.

The Wytheville couple watches Tech-UVa games of all different sorts together. Even though she’s outnumbered, Ellen is always a good sport, her father-in-law, Eddie Gunter, said as the family waited to get inside Sunday’s Virginia Tech-Virginia men’s basketball game at Cassell Coliseum.

Ellen grew up in the New River Valley and went to Tech for her veterinary degree after getting her bachelor’s from Roanoke College.

Aaron attended Radford University but comes from a long line of Wahoo supporters and fans, and he makes it up to a few games in Charlottesville annually.

Ellen and Aaron met more than 10 years ago at a veterinary clinic and were friends for several years before they started dating. After they’d been together for six years, they decided it was time to get hitched.

Other than their allegiances, the couple has much in common. They’re both dog people. They both enjoy beer over wine. And Duke and North Carolina are heavily disliked in their home.

“There are never any fights,” said Aaron, who is a public school teacher for Wythe County.

“We keep it peaceful,” said Ellen, who is now a vet at Smyth County Animal Hospital.

In fact, they agreed, they always root for their partner’s team when the Wahoos and Hokies are playing other schools.

They also exchange a lot of gifts for their respective schools.

Aaron likes Cav gear. Ellen likes Hokie stuff.

It’s only natural to give each other presents that they like, even if it supports their in-state rival school.

Ellen said she’s been known to don navy and orange, though it’s a rare occurrence. Aaron will occasionally wear maroon around the house.

“Only if everything else is dirty,” he said with a smirk.

One of their favorite items in their home is a Christmas wreath that Aaron’s sister Amber made several years ago.

It’s decorated half with the colors of Tech, half with the colors of UVa, and is so precious that they won’t hang the wreath on the front door because of the risk of exposing it to the elements.

There will always be good-natured trash talk. But at the end of any game day, what’s important is the strength of the Gunters’ relationship.

And a Wahoo or Hokie victory - or an intense, double overtime, two-point game - won’t affect that, the whole family agrees.

“The rivalry and sports don’t matter,” Eddie Gunter said. “They communicate good and they are good together.

“That’s what matters.”


Information from: The Daily Progress, https://www.dailyprogress.com

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