The Otterbein family enjoys a vacation at Mackinaw Island (Amy Otterbein | Courtesy)

Long before she sat in the bleachers at Frank “Muddy” Waters Stadium to watch Hillsdale College football games, Amy Otterbein grew up sitting in her family’s living room watching football as a kid.

She watched games with her father, Stephen Adams, and not too much has changed. But now, she roots solely for the Chargers, along with the rest of her family. She and her husband, head football coach Keith Otterbein, passed down their football tra­dition to their kids, and plan to con­tinue the tra­dition with their grandkids in the future.

“I really was my father’s son,” Amy said.

Since her dad played football, he enjoyed watching games with Amy since neither of her two sisters , Lynn and Jill, were inter­ested. Neither was their mother, Patsy. It was a typical for Amy and her father to spend after­noons either watching or playing sports together.

“I played softball, so I would play softball with him some­times,” Amy said. “But it wasn’t a varsity sport.”

Although Amy par­tic­i­pated in both cheer­leading and syn­chro­nized swimming as varsity sports in high school and con­tinued with the latter at Uni­versity of Michigan, her time in high school was before the inception of Title IX, which meant there weren’t as many options available to her, such as softball, she explained.

“But I’ve always liked football,” Amy said. “Well, I’ve always liked every sport.”

She began dating Keith in high school, who is one year older and lived in the same neigh­borhood as Amy in Lathrup Village, a northwest suburb of Detroit. Although Keith went to Hillsdale and Amy went to Michigan, they “pretty much” made it through the four years, according to Amy.

After cheer­leading for high school football games, Amy would visit Keith during his first year playing at Hillsdale, cheering from the stands.

After college, Amy and Keith moved to Hillsdale for Keith to begin his first job as an assistant football coach. Since then, the Otter­beins have moved to five dif­ferent loca­tions for coaching jobs.

All three of their kids, Steve, Alyssa, and Brad, fol­lowed in their father’s foot­steps by attending Hillsdale with strong involvement in the football program. After playing on the team, Stephen and Brad both cur­rently serve as assistant coaches, giving the term “family business” some real meaning. Alyssa sup­ported the team by serving on the training staff as a student at Hillsdale.

“Some­times we’d really all be on the bus together,” Amy said in explaining the Otterbein family involvement with the football team. “I try to go [to away games] when I can get out of work and if it’s not too far.”

Although she spends 30 hours a week working for the Ortho­pedic Rehab Spe­cialists as a physical ther­apist, Amy still makes time for Hillsdale football.

“Thank goodness I do like football,” Amy said.

Assistant football coach and Amy’s oldest son, Steve, said his mom has only missed a few games in all the years he’s played and coached for Hillsdale.

“She’s one of our biggest fans,” Steve said.

Given all the time their hus­bands spend at games, Amy said the coaches’ wives do a lot of tail­gating, pro­viding an oppor­tunity to get to know players’ fam­ilies.

“By the time [the players] are seniors I’ve gotten to know them,” Amy said. “And then the freshmen come in and it starts all over again.”

When Keith worked as an assistant at Hillsdale for the first time, the Otter­beins only lived there for two years.

“When we lived here the first time I was like ‘Eh, I don’t think so,’ so I worked in Jackson, and we lived here for two years and I was ready to get out,” Amy said.

After bouncing around as a coach between Divi­sions I and II, the Otter­beins moved back to Hillsdale, where Keith has been the head coach for the last 17 seasons.

“We got a chance to move back here. [Keith] didn’t think I would want to, but I was excited about it,” Amy said. “Now that we’ve been here I think it’s great.”

Today, the entire family is settled in Hillsdale. Despite Alyssa moving with her husband to Cal­i­fornia and Kala­mazoo, Michigan, where he was sta­tioned in the Navy, she’s been back in town for almost three years.

“We both really enjoy being around them,” Keith said. “We’re extremely blessed to have all five of our grandkids right here.”

“We have a spot at the very top of the stadium and they can’t escape and they bring col­oring books,” Keith con­tinued. “Brad and Steve and their wives come with all their kids, so games can be counted as a family affair.”

In her spare time, Amy  enjoys walking their family dog, Cooper, or “Cooper the pooper,” according to her grandkids.

Although football is an Otterbein family oper­ation, Cooper is one member of the family who doesn’t come to games.

“It’s enough that we just have the grandkids running around,” Amy said.

When not at work or football games, Amy can often be found at her church, Trinity Lutheran, as the sec­retary of the council. And when she’s not working, she’s vol­un­teering, or attending Bible study. Fully immersed in the Hillsdale com­munity, Amy doesn’t plan on leaving anytime soon.

“I’m going to retire here,” she said. “We have five grandkids and they all live within a few minutes of us.”