To say Hastings College has played a significant role in the lives of Greg and Patty Sitorius is an understatement.
For starters, they met there. Coached there. Graduated from there. And were brought back together there to rekindle their friendship, a friendship that blossomed into romance more than quarter of a century ago.
Though residents of Minden today, the couple maintains ties to Hastings and the college. Currently Hastings College's foundation gift officer, Patty was invited to help choose the school's volleyball coach and activities director. She's even managed to put her Real Estate license to work buying and selling properties for the college on occasion.
And while Greg remains anchored at his position as biology teacher and assistant girls basketball coach at Minden, he still makes it back with Patty to watch an occasional sporting event at the college. He recently participated in the college's basketball reunion event at the college, where he played on Bronco basketball teams that compiled a 96-21 record during his four years there through 1981.
To Patty, a 1977 graduate of St. Cecilia, the college initially provided a soft place to land after getting cut from the Nebraska basketball team her freshman year. Though she did go on to compete on the Huskers' track team in the high jump and 400 hurdles, she couldn't help but feel that something was missing in her life.
After a career that included playing in the state tournament her senior year in volleyball, basketball and track — and winning state titles in basketball and track — playing just one sport wasn't going to cut it. That was partly why she decided to return to Hastings College after 1 1/2 years to extend her athletic involvement in volleyball, basketball and track.
"I was able to get back to the sports I love," she said.
For Greg, a Cozad native, sports was also an important part of his life growing up. A four-sport athlete while attending Cozad High School (football, basketball, track and summer baseball), he continued playing basketball at Hastings College while pursuing his degree in biology.
And while he and Patty became casual friends their junior and senior years, they didn't start dating until they were reunited by employment opportunities at Hastings College a few years
"We knew each other for 2 1/2 years before, but it was nothing special," Greg said.
"We dated other people, actually," Patty said. "After we graduated, he went his way and I went mine."
When former Hastings College basketball player Mike Trader returned to his alma mater to coach basketball in 1986, he needed help. He recruited Greg.
When Coach Lynn Farrell needed a volleyball and women's track coach, he offered the jobs to Patty. And with that, the pair found themselves bumping into each other with greater frequency this time around.
"When he came back with Coach Trader to help with basketball and get his education degree, it just kind of rekindled our friendship," Patty said. "We kind of got thrown at each other, and it grew into more than that."
A lot more.
During volleyball practice, Greg approached Patty with an offer she couldn't refuse.
"I had to borrow her (gym) keys one day and I said, 'By the way, would you like to go to supper tonight?' " he said.
"I don't think he really needed my keys," she said with a laugh. "So after dinner, we decided to go out for a couple of drinks and he ran out of money. We had to go find a cash box (ATM). I guess I was an expensive first date!"
They married in November 1988 and have two daughters currently attending the University of Nebraska Kearney: Lindsey, 22, and Carly, 20.
And while Patty hasn't formally coached in more than 15 years, she maintains a coach's mentality whenever she attends games — either at Minden or any of the professional or college games they attend together.
It's a mentality she hopes has rubbed off on their daughters, one that values seeing things through from start to finish. And one that is supportive of others, whenever possible.
"We both worked hard at what we set out to do," Patty said of Greg and herself. "We haven't always been successful, but at the end of the day we can say we gave it our all.
"We hope those characteristics have been passed on to our children, that they are driven. We would like to see them finish what they start, take college seriously, and end up being successful. Hopefully, at the end of the day, we can say we helped guide them in that direction."