Football fan has 26 seasons of perfect attendance

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One hundered and fifty-eight games in 26 straight seasons. That’s the equivalent of over 550 hours, or 23 full days inside Cougar stadium. That is how much of a Cougar football fan BYU Bookstore Textbook Manager Tom Hirtzel is. Since the 1987 season, he has attended every single BYU football home game.

Now in his manager’s office, he is surrounded by vintage 1984 national championship posters, advertisements he’s been in and a “Certificate of Participation” from co-workers when he hit 140 games in 2009, complete with a falsified Cosmo signature.

Originally from a small town in Illinois, Hirtzel grew up a BYU fan. He came to BYU in 1987 as a freshman, after spending three years working and serving an LDS mission.

His unique habit started his freshman year when he bought season tickets. Hirtzel said he never planned on attending every game, but it just happened. “I did not have a plan, but I just did not have a conflict,” Hirtzel said. “Nothing ever came up, so I just went to them.”

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Upon graduation in 1991, Hirtzel received a promotion at the Bookstore, where he had been employed for the four years of his undergraduate career in geography and cartography. He said he continued to buy tickets and go to games and even met his wife, Tamara, while trying to find a friend to use an extra ticket.

“She was so excited because she wasn’t able to get tickets, and I thought, ‘man, this girl likes football,'” Hirtzel said. “I invited her to all the rest of the games after that.”

Tamara said she has always been supportive of her husband. “I figure he doesn’t have any brothers and no sons, let him have his football,” Tamara said. “This is his one thing he really gets into and enjoys, and I am not going to stop him, especially now with his streak of games.”

She appreciates that Hirtzel makes game day a family affair, buying at least two tickets so she or one of their kids can go. It is the whole BYU football experience that the family enjoys the most.

“He likes to be there early,” Tamara said. “He leaves at least an hour before the game and has a very specific place he parks. His friends all know and often meet up for hellos before or after the game.”

Hirtzel said he is different than the stereotypical “super fan.” After he had a few kids, he realized he could no longer let a loss affect his mood. “About 10 years ago I finally had to divorce my emotional well-being from the barometer of how well the football team did,” Hirtzel said. “I think I actually started enjoying the games more after a loss. I just realized there’s a lot more to life, that I can’t come home to my family and be mad.”

He said he’s not an over-the-top fan, but a genuine one. “I’m not that psycho about this, I don’t get that look in my eye,” Hirtzel said. “But I’d go to every game if they lost every game. I love football, I love BYU and what (it) stands for.”

The only thing Hirtzel does that he admits may be a little over the top is committing his daughters to check the BYU home game calendar when they plan their weddings. “They laugh and think it’s funny to talk about, but I’m serious,” he said.

Speaking of his future, he hopes he can keep his record up but will not put it over anything serious. “I’ll do everything that I can that’s reasonable to keep going, but if there’s something serious, I won’t hold this hostage over it,” he said.

He was, however, very surprised at the amount of time he has spent in Cougar stadium. “Over 550 hours of my life inside Cougar stadium, that’s kind of sobering,” Hirtzel said when he added up all the numbers. “Twenty-six years? That’s like over half my life. I never imagined I’d go this long, but it’s a good way to spend it.”

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