For Ben and Natalie Watanabe, driving to cover Temple University football games together in a metallic blue PT Cruiser was the beginning of a lasting connection.
“I always kind of joke about the fact that Temple football was god awful that year, and so I would say, ‘we’re kind of one of the most productive things to come out of that season,’” said Natalie Watanabe, owner of Natalie Nigito Photography and co-owner of Fairmount Photography.
While spending one year working together at The Temple News, Ben and Natalie Watanabe fell in love and are now raising two daughters outside of Boston.
Ben Watanabe and Natalie Watanabe met on Aug. 23, 2004, at Temple’s first football media day, an event where the press can talk to athletes and coaches about the upcoming season.
Reporting together on the Owls’ football and basketball games each week allowed them to grow closer and get to know one another, Natalie Wantanabe said.
The two were drawn to each other after realizing how well they worked together and how much they liked spending time together, Natalie Wantanabe said.
“We both will listen to each other and give good feedback to each other,” Natalie Watanabe said. “I feel like that’s a good start for any relationship, knowing that you can work with somebody.”
After going out one night with staff from The Temple News, Ben walked Natalie to her car and asked her out, Natalie Watanabe said.
The two have been inseparable ever since, said Ben Watanabe, a digital content manager at New England Sports Network.
“We didn’t just connect and reconnect, we connected,” Ben Watanabe said “We’ve been connected ever since.”
Ben Watanabe started at The Temple News as a staff writer covering men’s and women’s gymnastics events and women’s volleyball his sophomore year to grow professionally, he said.
Natalie Watanabe joined The Temple News the second half of her junior year and worked as a sports photographer and page designer, she said.
The Temple News was a huge part of their lives during college, Ben Watanabe said. Meeting his wife there made it even more special to him.
“It just makes sense that a place that we had so many friends and learned so much, and spent so much time on was also the place that I ended up meeting the person that I would spend the rest of my life with,” Ben Watanabe said.
Sitting with Natalie and looking at the way she would present stories, photos and headlines for the articles she covered made him appreciate the work they created together, Ben Watanabe said.
Longtime friend and former Sports editor at The Temple News, Christopher Vito, isn’t surprised Ben and Natalie Watanabe are happily married with a family after seeing their relationship grow each week in the newsroom.
“We worked many hours together, you know, you’re in a newsroom together, working late,” said Vito, a senior director of strategic communications at La Salle University. “You’re getting the experience you crave and desire, and as a result of it, strong relationships, and friendships come out of it.”
Once Ben and Natalie Watanabe graduated from Temple, they both landed jobs in the journalism industry.
Ben Watanabe started at The Daily Journal in southern New Jersey, as a staff writer, and eventually became the assistant sports editor.
Ben credits John DiCarlo, a 1998 journalism alumnus and managing director of student media at Klein College of Media and Communication, for helping him get his first job.
DiCarlo’s former sports editor at The Daily Journal, Jason Carris, asked him to refer someone he could hire for a job there and, without hesitation, DiCarlo referred Ben Watanabe, he said.
DiCarlo formed a friendship with both Ben and Natalie Watanabe and believes they were perfect for each other.
“They were always just great for each other but just like just a perfect combination of who you’d want to be around, like they were just great journalists, wonderful people and it’s just been really cool to just to see like their lives develop,” DiCarlo said.
Natalie Watanabe took a job with the Courier Post, a sister publication to The Daily Journal, as a front page designer and was eventually promoted to special sections designer.
While working at the Courier Post, Natalie Watanabe taught Design for Journalists as an adjunct professor at Temple from January 2008 to December 2011 as a way to stay up to date on new computer technology, like Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Indesign, and pass on skills to students to help further their careers and education, she said.
Ben Watanabe oversees all the editorial content on New England Sports Network’s website. Natalie Watanabe runs her photography company Natalie Nigito Photography and co-owns Fairmount Photography, a wedding photography business. She also covers sports events and things that are going on in her town as a freelance reporter.
Shortly after getting married on June 26, 2010, Ben Watanabe was offered a job at NESN and they decided to move to Watertown, Massachusetts. Their first daughter was born in January 2012 and their second daughter was born in August 2014.
Natalie Watanabe has enjoyed watching her daughters follow in both of their footsteps as they have already started to write their own stories, she said.
“I think that Ben and I both being journalists, we are both naturally curious people and it’s kind of fun to see that curiosity in our kids, too,” Natalie Watanabe said. “So like, that’s a cornerstone of being a journalist and that’s probably something that’s passed on to the kids that way.”