They do: It was purely physical… therapy


Sometimes love gently approaches you, and other times it slaps you on the head.

It took a volleyball to the face to make Jane Handel seek medical advice from friends who are physical therapists.

Jane has played volleyball most of her life, from her early days at St. A’s, then at Evanston Township High School (class of ’08), and then became an All-American at Middlebury College in Vermont. But despite so many times on the volleyball court, a hit she took in a game in the summer of 2017 worried her. “I had never been hit so hard in the face!” she remembered.

Ryan Breen and Jane Handel in front of the Butcher & the Burger restaurant. Credit: Erika Mattingly

Afraid of having suffered a concussion, Jane ventured to a Lincoln Park area restaurant called Butcher & the Burger for a diagnosis of her injury. Jane’s friends and acquaintances that night included physical therapist Ryan Breen.

Jane and Ryan initially met in December 2016 on the Santa Hunt, a pub crawl that has participants spot Santa Claus at various Chicago bars. And that summer night – after it was determined that Jane had not, in fact, suffered a concussion – the two sat on the patio and talked for a long time.

“It didn’t feel like the first time we met. It was really good,” said Jane. That summer, the two solidified their friendship and began dating steadily.

Ryan, who attended Ball State and then attended school of physical therapy at Rosalind Franklin University in north Chicago, is a physical therapist at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. Jane is expected to start as a business analyst for the Grant Street Group.

Jane is the daughter of Kelli and Bill Handel of Evanston. Ryan is the son of Dave and Vanessa Breen of Indianapolis.

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