Betty was playing on the basketball team and working in the Registrar’s office when they met.
It was not until the Junior Senior Banquet, ignoring their dates and talking only to each other, that Bud and Betty Hittenberger started their slow romance and eventually married a year after graduation in 1961.
Bud came to watch Betty play one game, when the gym was just a run-down, cramped room in one of the barracks buildings.
Now a legal courier and a substitute teacher, Bud and Betty never miss a Vanguard basketball game, unless it conflicts with work schedules or is too far to travel. Whether home or away, the men or the women, the Hittenbergers can be seen in matching VU t-shirts just behind the players’ bench, cheering and praying and holding hands.
It began when they came to the basketball games to watch their youngest son play in the pep band; they continued to show up even after he was no longer attending Vanguard. That was 14 years ago.
Betty prays for the team throughout the game, but especially during free-throws–for the Lions to make it and for the opposing team to miss.
At a recent game against Biola University, Betty handed a fellow Vanguard student an envelope full of the players’ names, instructing him to pray for each one throughout the week preceding the next game.
Betty calls herself a prayer warrior, taking home the roster and praying for the players, even outside the context of basketball.
Bud and Betty are so involved in the games that they feel the victories and losses along with the men and women on the court.
Even though Bud is not there to watch his future wife, and Betty is not with him to watch their son, the Hittenbergers will still sit in the stands. This ritual of theirs is not only a love of the game or a humdrum pastime. It is a loyalty and they believe their prayers make a difference.
“They’re Vanguard. They’re our school,” Betty said.