Former Fresno State standout athletes Nikko Motta and Taylor Thompson added a verse to the catchy Bulldogs motto.
Bulldog born. Bulldog bred.
And now ... Bulldogs wed.
The guest list included a few ex-Fresno State athletes, including the football team’s career rushing leader Robbie Rouse as a groomsman.
“So everyone thinks I’m this big and tough football player,” said Motta, who during his final year with the Bulldogs was listed at 6 feet, 2 inches and 279 pounds. “But when I first laid my eyes on Taylor coming down the aisle, I started crying.
“I don’t even know when was the last time I cried before that. The tears were flowing and I couldn’t stop it. It was an amazing day.”
I don’t even know when was the last time I cried before that. The tears were flowing and I couldn’t stop it.
Former Fresno State football player Nikko Motta
Motta and Thompson are the latest pair of Fresno State athletes to tie the knot, joining a select group that notably includes:
- Former Super Bowl winning quarterback Trent Dilfer and Cassandra Franzman (swimming).
- San Francisco Giants bullpen coach Mark Gardner and the late Lori Romeiro (softball).
- Mike McIntyre and Chantea Fleming (basketball), who turned in her sneakers for a tiara and became Mrs. California in 2014.
- Scott Barnes, who played basketball for Boyd Grant in the ’80s and is now the athletic director at Oregon State, married former Bulldogs track and field high jumper Jody Mariscal.
- Also from the track, Lacy Barnes – the top U.S. finisher in the discus at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics – married Matt Mileham, who competed in the hammer throw for Great Britain in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics.
- Bulldogs men’s golf coach Chad Spencer, who also starred for the Bulldogs from 2000-04, ended up marrying fellow Fresno State golfer Tiffany Veerkamp and have three children.
- In more recent years, ex-NFL cornerback Richard Marshall and Jasmine Plummer (basketball)
- And former Fresno State quarterback Ryan Colburn and Allanah Munson (volleyball)
Excluded from the list are Fresno State greats Derek and David Carr, though both also got married while in college.
But neither of their spouses played an NCAA sport at Fresno State.
Motta and Thompson both were at Fresno State from 2009-14.
They became friends in the spring of 2010 then started dating by December.
As is the case with other student athletes, Motta and Thompson found themselves running into each other quite regularly.
At study hall, the trainers’ room, the weight lifting room.
“He asked me for my phone number,” Thompson said. “And as they say, ‘The rest was history.’ ”
Soon, Motta and Thompson were attending many of the same social functions together, as well as each other’s games, and shared many of the same friends.
“I actually think it’s more common than people see,” Motta said of athletes dating each other. “We all kind of have the same values of competition, grinding and working our butts off.
“It’s just, maybe they don’t finish it and their relationship never goes all the way through.”
Fresno State is what brought us together. It’s definitely been a blessing.
Former Bulldogs basketball player Taylor Thompson
Motta and Thompson agree they connected from the start, and their personalities meshed more and more as they got to know each other further.
Motta also is quick to concede who’s the better athlete.
“We’re both very competitive,” Motta said. “But I have to say that she’s the athlete in the family. She’s nails.
“We played 2-on-2 basketball before. My brother and me versus her and my dad. She destroyed us. I blame my brother, though.”
Motta, who is an assistant prep football coach at his alma mater Sanger High, invited several of his former Fresno State teammates and coaches to the wedding.
As did Thompson with her Bulldogs basketball teammates and coaches.
But because the wedding was in Oklahoma and it was held just as football summer camp got under way for nearly all levels of play, some of their invited guests, including Derek Carr, were unable to attend.
Nikko Motta’s groomsmen consisted of his brother as the best man and former Fresno State football players Robbie Rouse, Andy Jennings and Anthony Williams.
“Once it’s football season, it’s always tough to get away,” Motta said. “Heck, as soon as our wedding was over, we were on a plane back to Fresno the next day because I didn’t want to miss football camp.
“She was very understanding that we’ll do our honeymoon later.”
Thompson, who spent last year as an assistant at Buchanan but is taking a break from coaching high school this year, had former Bulldogs teammates Jeanna Furst and Emma Andrews as bridesmaids, along with a pair of childhood friends from Oklahoma.
Former Bulldogs star Ki-Ki Moore also attended the wedding.
As part of the wedding ceremony, Thompson and Motta each poured sand into a personalized frame to represent their unity as well as to acknowledge Fresno State’s role in their relationship.
Motta poured sand in the color of Fresno State red. Thompson pour sand the color of Fresno State blue.
“Fresno State is what brought us together,” Thompson said. “It made sense.
“It’s definitely been a blessing.”