The playful teasing commenced before Adam Kroll even stepped foot on the University of Maryland campus. In fact, it began as soon as his parents learned that he had been assigned to Cumberland Hall his freshman year.
His father, Louis, warned him in jest: “You better watch out for those Cumberland girls!” Louis was speaking from personal experience: Cumberland was the same coed dorm where he had met Adam’s mother, Barbara.
Jokes aside, Louis didn’t really expect that lightning would strike twice or that his son would meet his future wife, Abby Zaniel, on the seventh floor of the high-rise residence hall. But it did and he did.
The pair met in September 2005 during their first week of college. Abby, no shrinking violet, decided to walk over to Adam’s room with her roommate and introduce herself to her new neighbors. “They lived right around the corner from us,” she recalls. “I thought [Adam] was cute, but it was also the first week of freshman year of college. . . . I probably thought most of the guys were cute.”
Soon, Adam and Abby were moving in the same freshman pack, and a close friendship began to develop. They were near-constant companions all four years, going to Terps basketball games, vacationing in Myrtle Beach, S.C., over spring break and traveling with Birthright Israel, a charity that provides first-time trips to Israel for young Jewish adults. And inspired by a marathon of the BBC “Planet Earth” series, they decided to visit the National Zoo, which later became an annual tradition.
“We hung out all the time,” says Abby, who handles marketing for Constellation in Baltimore. “Whatever we did, we did together,” adds Adam, a law clerk for a Baltimore Circuit Court judge.
But it wasn’t until a year after graduation in 2009 that a romance developed. Adam had returned to Baltimore and Abby to Annandale, and later Silver Spring, and, as the adage goes, absence made the heart grow fonder.
“We weren’t seeing each other . . . and I think that was really hard for both of us,” Abby says. “We missed each other.”
Over time, the two began chatting more online. They made a conscious effort to spend time together, whether it was get-togethers with friends, Terps games or visits to the zoo. “He was always just really easy to talk to and get along with,” Abby says.
In April 2010, she headed up to Baltimore to see Adam’s new digs. And that night, fueled by liquid courage, he decided to test the waters and go in for a kiss.
“I thought . . . ‘I’ll make a move and see what happens,’ ” he says.
Abby was pleasantly surprised, but she worried about jumping into things too quickly and jeopardizing their friendship.
“There were a lot of thoughts,” she says. “Initially, I was very excited to see what would happen, but later I talked myself out of it. I got nervous! I mean, he was one of my best guy friends at the time.”
But soon after, at Baltimore’s Preakness Stakes, her strong feelings for Adam dawned on her. “We were just hanging out, and I remember looking over at him and thinking, ‘Why couldn’t this be a date instead of us hanging out?’ ” she says. “That’s when I decided in my head, ‘Okay, let’s do this.’ ”
Right away, both realized they had something special and serious. Their 40-minute commute between Baltimore and Silver Spring soon became a welcome routine.
A month or so in, Adam introduced Abby to his parents, who were floored to hear their Cumberland Hall story. “We just could not believe it. It was just too weird,” says Barbara Kroll. “But I have to say, as soon as I met Abby, I thought to myself, ‘Yes, this is it.’ ”
Meeting Adam’s parents had a similar effect on Abby. “When I saw him around his family and how they all interacted, I realized I wanted to be with [him] and be a part of his family,” she says.
They continued to balance hectic work and school schedules. Adam graduated from the University of Maryland’s law school in Baltimore, and Abby received a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Maryland in College Park.
In August 2013, after years of going back and forth, Adam and Abby moved in together in Baltimore. Two months later, Adam suggested they make their year-end trip to the zoo. On a fairly secluded path between the sloth bear and otter exhibits, he dropped to one knee and proposed. “Yes, of course!” Abby excitedly replied. Moments later, he pointed out a photographer, hidden in greenery, whom Adam had hired to secretly capture the event. They took commemorative snapshots with zoo animals and later celebrated with champagne and dinner.
Abby and Adam were married March 29 before 191 guests at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court in downtown Baltimore. Abby was accompanied down the aisle by her mother, Maureen, as her father, Robert, played the Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” on the piano.
At the reception, she and Adam, both 27, shared their first dance to Frank Sinatra’s “The Way You Look Tonight.” Later, they danced the hora with friends and family.
Embracing their local roots, the pair had bags for their guests with such goodies as Utz crab chips and Virginia peanuts.
The two still laugh about the circumstances that brought both them and Adam’s parents together.
“We joke that it puts a lot of pressure on our future children. . . . They have to go to Maryland, live in Cumberland Hall and meet their spouses there,” Abby says. “We know that, at the very least, they’re going to have to be University of Maryland basketball fans.”