BOISE, Idaho — Have you ever witnessed The Bronco Walk at Boise State home games at Albertsons Stadium? It’s something Coach Bryan Harsin started when he took the job of head coach almost six years ago. Harsin leads his team through thousands of eager fans at the tailgate two hours before kickoff. It’s a thrill for the fans, the coaches and the players, too.
“We start making that walk through Dechevrieux Field, and people come out and they start getting closer and you can feel the energy and the high fives. Then you make your way through the Broadway side, and people start leaving their tailgate to come over there and high five,” Harsin said. “You feel that energy. You feel that one team, one goal and one city.”
Coach Harsin has a special connection with one of those fans along The Bronco Walk route. Her name is Bernice Thomson, who's been a Boise State Broncos fan since the 1960s.
“I started coming out here when Coach Lyle Smith was the junior college coach and I started then, and it was just so much fun to do,” Thomson said.
Now at the age of 90, Thomson is still a true-blue-super fan. In all those years, she has rarely missed a home game.
“I love it, I just love it,” she said.
Her son Scott says she definitely bleeds blue.
“She's had four kids who have graduated from Boise State, she’s kind of blue and orange all the way through,” Scott Thomson said.
Every home game, you'll find Bernice at her family’s traditional tailgate spot in the parking lot on the Broadway side of Albertsons Stadium, where all the action is. The team always passes by during The Bronco Walk. You better believe Coach Harsin notices this 90-year-old fan.
“Along the walk, there's a lot of stuff going on, a lot of high fives, a lot of 'Go Broncos,' cheers stuff like that,” Harsin said. “Bernice, there she is toward the end of the walk where she's sitting there right upfront. It's just one of those things you just naturally gravitate toward people like that.”
Game after game, coach Harsin makes a stop to see Bernice, and they have a moment.
“He called her his good luck charm a few weeks ago and that's something she gets a kick out of,” Scott Thomson said. “He always gives her a hug.”
Coach Harsin always stops to say hello to 90-year-old fan at home games
Harsin says stopping to say hello to Bernice has become a Bronco Walk tradition.
“It’s been working we need to continue it,” Harsin said.
Bernice's family often posts the videos of the two interacting on Facebook, people love to see Coach Harsin with this sweet fan.
“She makes sure we are here early enough every game so that she doesn't miss that moment. She lives for that, it's so cute,” says Bernice’s daughter-in-law Brandie Thomson. “We usually always get a ton of likes. Some of the comments that we get are just how cool Harsin is, to do that, to take that moment.”
Bernice also loves to high five the players. She says they are always gentle with her.
“Yes they are, they really nice and they are really friendly, and I tell them to go broncos and they say they will,” she said.
Coach Harsin says what he is really impressed by is that Bernice goes into the stadium to watch every game. Harsin says she has no excuses.
“You're all in, we're all in, let's get this thing done and she's excited big smile on her face. It's little things like that,” he said. “We appreciate fans like that!”
Bernice says that’s the best part, being with all the fans and watching her Broncos on the blue turf.
“Of course! Right now I sit with where the handicapped are because I have the wheelchair, but up until last year I sat up in the stadium,” Bernice said.
Bernice says she's not sure why she stands out, but she’s glad she does.
“Well, I guess I'm special,” she giggled. “He's just a really really friendly coach!”
Bernice Thomson says she'll keep going to the games with her family for as long as she can! After almost 60 years, it's just in her blood.
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