Blind daters McKenna and Eli just met for the first time on the field at Valley View Casino Center. Eli, who plays defender for the San Diego Sockers, is about to run through a quick warmup with McKenna before dinner at the Cohn Restaurant Group’s new Draft Republic in Carlsbad. But before they get their heart rates up, let’s review their pre-date interviews.
PACIFIC: Where are you from and where do you live now?
McKENNA: I moved to San Diego a little over four years ago from Seattle to go to school. I fell in love with San Diego and didn’t move back after I graduated.
ELI: I was born and raised in San Diego, currently residing in Encinitas.
What do you do for a living?
McKenna: I currently work a full-time job downtown and have another job on the side. I’m trying to save up some money to go back to get my master’s, or maybe a boob job. I haven’t decided which of the two will help make me more money yet.
Eli: All soccer, all the time! I play professionally, coach three club teams and am the head coach of freshman soccer at Cathedral Catholic High School.
Why are you going on a blind date in PACIFIC magazine?
McKenna: Somehow I let PACIFIC's matchmaker peer pressure me into it. Plus, it sounded less sketchy than Tinder or Bumble.
Eli: I was asked to do it for promotional purposes, but it sounded fun, so why not? I have an open mind and easy personality, so I thought it'd be a good opportunity for something new. I've never been on a blind date, let alone one that's on camera!
What do you do for fun?
McKenna: I spend my days off at the beach, Disneyland or going out with my friends.
Eli: First and foremost, I love being with friends and family, golfing, running, going to the beach, camping and listening to live music. I am a big fan of Tottenham Hotspur (a Premier League football club). I love waking up early on the weekends to nerd out and watch my favorite team.
What are you best at?
McKenna: I’m best at embarrassing myself in public. I can only imagine how I’m about to embarrass myself on this date.
Eli: Focusing on my football, health and career.
What do you suck at?
McKenna: I absolutely suck at being on time. I’m at least 5 minutes late to everything.
Eli: (laughs) I'm not a very good swimmer!
What are you looking for in a date, physically and/or otherwise?
McKenna: I’m looking for someone who has a great sense of humor, is ambitious and kind.
Eli: I think it's just about having someone you genuinely enjoy being around after a long day.
Describe your special brand of sex appeal in five words or less.
McKenna: Sweet and sassy.
Eli: Fun-loving, intelligent, flirty, fit, loyal.
What do you like least about yourself?
McKenna: I love myself and try to embrace all my flaws and little quirks.
Eli: Time management, never enough time in the day.
Rate yourself on a scale from one to 10 for looks.
McKenna: I prefer not to rate myself on a scale. I will say that after a few tequila shots, I start to think I’m Beyoncé.
Eli: I asked Siri, her response: "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate." She's really great, sometimes.
Rate yourself on a scale from one to 10 for personality.
McKenna: I’m a mix of April Ludgate and Jesus.
Eli: I can confidently say 9-plus.
What’s your biggest fear?
McKenna: It’s a tie between getting murdered and disappointing my parents.
Eli: Snakes and sharks.
What traits might your date exhibit that would be complete deal-breakers?
McKenna: Smoking is a big deal-breaker to me because of my asthma. Also just being an ass to others for no reason is a no for me.
Eli: Being rude — I don't like being around negative people. There's enough going on in the world these days; the least we can do is be kind to one another.
How many people have you slept with?
McKenna: Considering my mom could read this, I’m going to say I’m saving it for marriage.
Eli: Wouldn't you like to know?
Fill in the blanks: I want my blind date to be “blank” and “blank.”
McKenna: I want my blind date to be kind and, hopefully, also Liam Hemsworth.
Eli: I want my date to be smart and funny. I know, real original.
Will the night end with a kiss, something more or something less?
McKenna: I’ll let the tequila decide.
Eli: If it feels right, perhaps.
What’s the most important thing in the world?
McKenna: I’m going to have to go with puppies and margaritas.
Eli: The people who live in it.
Coming up for air
Eli leaves McKenna breathless
Eli starts the date by presenting McKenna with a Sockers swag basket then gets into a warmup with a light jog around the stadium followed by a quick run through a cone-lined obstacle course. Before long, McKenna busts out her inhaler and asks for a quick timeout. “An asthma attack a day is good for you,” she quips. Once she catches her breath, Eli goes over some ball-handling basics and shows off his fancy footwork.
Amid all the activity, there’s not a ton of time for the daters to simply chat, and what conversation does take place seems stifled. Eli attempts to lighten the mood by putting a soccer ball under his shirt, and before long, the two change out of their athletic wear and into evening attire. Before the the daters step back into the limo, McKenna mentions that she’s famous for doing the splits at bars, which elicits a big smile from Eli as they head to the next location.
The ride up to North County gives the couple time to talk in private, and both seem much more at ease upon arrival at Draft Republic. McKenna and Eli grab a quick drink, play a few games and order their entrees before we split them up for mid-date debriefings.
How’s it going so far?
McKenna: Other than my mild asthma attack, I would say it’s going good. I probably should have warned him that my lungs suck. But I made it. A+ for effort.
Eli: Going really well. I think McKenna is a really cool girl, has a great personality and an open mind. It’s been a lot of fun so far.
Is this the type of person you’d normally date?
McKenna: Probably not typically, but (the ones I normally date are) clearly not working for me so far, so I’m glad I’m here.
Eli: Yes. You know, I wasn’t told she has asthma. And I ran her through a gnarly soccer lesson, but it was a lot of fun and she was super cool and open. That’s first and foremost what I look for in a mate.
What do you think of the way your date is dressed?
McKenna: I honestly haven’t even looked at what he was wearing, not once. I’m still a little lightheaded.
Eli: Both (of her outfits) were very stylish and attractive. I think she’s very pretty.
How are you liking Draft Republic?
McKenna: So far, so good. They’re very accommodating of my dietary needs, since I’m vegan. The guy offered lots of suggestions, and the margarita is amazing.
Eli: I’ve been here a few times before. It’s got a good vibe with the games and the good food, so it’s a good Friday night or Saturday night.
How was your experience at the Valley View Casino Center?
McKenna: We can go back to question one on that: my asthma attack. But otherwise, it was great.
Eli: (Jokes) Never been there before, first time. Love all the big lights and the big show, but it was a great time getting to know my date in a little bit more of a technical, physical way in the game of soccer. She was a trooper and hung with me, so it was a lot of fun.
What’s the most attractive thing your date has done so far?
McKenna: Kicked my ass at soccer. He got nice and sweaty. His ball-handling skills.
Eli: Hanging in the soccer realm. She doesn’t know much about it, and it’s something I do daily. It’s a part of my routine, so she did a lot by doing what I do. She didn’t die, still alive. [For the] second date, she needs to be living.
What’s the least attractive thing your date has done so far?
McKenna: I can’t think of anything. He said the word “retarded” once, and that’s a no for me, but that’s not too bad. He made a joke about meth, but you know, we’re going to look past that.
Eli: She has not made any mistakes. I think the least attractive thing I’ve done is not knowing she has asthma, and I put her through a pretty challenging session.
Rate your date on a scale from one to 10 for looks.
McKenna: He’s nice.
Eli: I don’t like to be too judgmental with my opinion of people’s looks. She’s definitely above an eight.
And for personality?
McKenna: He’s nice. I wouldn’t even rate myself, so…
Eli: Definitely above a nine.
What’s your date’s most attractive quality?
McKenna: I’m sure he’s in shape.
Eli: She has a very pretty face.
What’s your date’s least attractive quality?
McKenna: No comment.
Eli: I don’t focus on negatives.
Do you want to kiss your date right now?
McKenna: I mean, I typically don’t kiss on the first date. I try to keep it classy. A few more drinks, and it’s questionable.
Eli: I would.
Does your date want to kiss you?
McKenna: I couldn’t tell you. I don’t know.
Eli: I don’t think so.
How and when will the date end?
McKenna: Considering I have work at 9 a.m. tomorrow, I’m probably going to go home and sleep after this, because I’m old.
Eli: When? When they drop us off. How? Planning a second date.
Anything you’d like to add?
McKenna: Shout out to my mom. She’s great. Shout out to my rabbits. They definitely read in their spare time.
Eli: I want to say hi to my mom and dad for sure. Something corny like that.
Feeling a draft
Eli deserves a yellow card for putting his skillful foot in his mouth, but McKenna finds it in her heart to look past his faux pas. Both daters seem to be breathing a bit easier, so we pack up for the night, and we follow up the next morning to find out what we missed.
How was your experience and dinner at Draft Republic?
McKenna: I really enjoyed it, the food was really great and it was a good atmosphere. The games were fun to play.
Eli: It was a lot of fun. The food was good, and the drinks were good. It was good to get some time in the limo to get to know each other a little more where we didn’t have cameras in our face the whole time. It was enjoyable.
What did you eat and drink there?
McKenna: I had a jalapeño margarita, and then I had a veggie burger. They made it vegan for me, and they were super accommodating and nice.
Eli: I had a Japanese whiskey old fashioned at the restaurant, it was a fantastic drink. I’m a bourbon fan, so it was a nice little change. To eat, I had Brussels sprouts, which was also very, very good, and my main course was a bacon and bleu burger, which was awesome as well.
Where did you go and what did you do for the rest of the evening after dinner?
McKenna: After dinner, I went home and went to bed, because I had to work early this morning.
Eli: We took a pretty long time, so I was dropped off after dinner. And then she had to get driven back down to San Diego (Eli lives in North County), so I just stayed home.
When did you get home?
McKenna: Before midnight.
Eli: I got home at like, 11.
Was there a kiss or romantic exchange?
McKenna: No, there was a friendly hug goodbye.
Eli: No, no, we got along real well, but there wasn’t too much intimacy.
Fill in the blanks. I wish my date had a bigger “blank” and a smaller “blank.”
McKenna: Oh my goodness, I honestly, I can’t say anything bad about him. He was super sweet. I’m trying to think of an answer for that, but he was super nice. I wouldn’t change anything.
Eli: Umm, let’s see… Bigger… That’s a tough one…
What’s the funniest thing that happened during the date?
McKenna: Probably when I first had an asthma attack while he made me run during our soccer experience, and I had to use my inhaler. I knew I would embarrass myself some way, and it happened.
Eli: Well, I didn’t know that she was asthmatic, and so I was running her through these drills and I thought everything was cool. It was kind of, not that high intensity, but a pretty decent level, and I guess she was having a hard time breathing. I had no idea, but I felt really bad after, I found out that she was having to use her inhaler. That could have gone a little bit more smoothly, but it was funny. I almost killed her, but everything’s good. I got her telephone number, so I don’t think it ended too poorly.
What was the best part of the date and why?
McKenna: The best part… Probably the jalapeño margarita. It was delicious.
Eli: The best part of the date was the fantastic food and drink, as well as the company.
What was the worst part of the date and why?
McKenna: Running laps around a soccer field — because exercise and running.
Eli: Finding out I almost killed her or had her go into cardiac arrest. Luckily, everything was good, and I don’t think there’s any hard feelings either way, so it’s a positive thing.
Will there be a second date? Why or why not?
McKenna: I don’t know. He was super nice and we exchanged phone numbers, but we’ll see.
Eli: I probably don’t think so, but you never know. She’s a little bit younger and we’re kind of in different places, but you never know.
What’s one thing your date really should know before going on another date?
McKenna: Don’t make me run, because I have asthma. Oh my gosh, he found out, and he felt so bad. Apparently he didn’t even see me use my inhaler. And then later, the photographer made a joke about it and Eli felt so bad.
Eli: She should know that her soccer-playing ability or her physical ability will not be tested on the next date that she goes on.
What could have made this date better?
McKenna: More time to talk before it happened, because I just showed up and then they started filming and we started running through the soccer stuff, and we didn’t even really have a chance to get to know each other before, which was a little awkward, but it was fine.
Eli: We didn’t have too much time to actually just kind of chat and talk, but everything we were doing was a lot of fun so it was a great time, but it ended pretty quickly without us having too much time to really conversate, but like I said, it was a really good time.
Anything else you’d like to add?
McKenna: Not that I can think of. I’m really appreciative of the whole situation. I really enjoyed it. It was a good experience.
Eli: No, I don’t think so. I just thought McKenna was a really nice girl and I had a great time with this kind of different, strange, awkward experience, but it was a really good time.
Despite both daters putting their best feet forward, there doesn’t appear to be much of a spark between these two. And while that doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be second date, like McKenna, we’re not holding our breath.
EDITOR’S NOTE: In certain cases, daters’ answers have been abridged for space and to add clarity.
THANK YOU to (and promotional consideration provided by): Epic Limo, 858.270.LIMO (5466), epiclimo.com; San Diego Sockers, sdsockers.com; Draft Republic Carlsbad, 760.448.4627, cohnrestaurants.com/draftrepublic-carlsbad