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PROVO — Fans standing on their feet and cheering loudly is not an unusual sight at a BYU football game, but that echoing chorus is usually directed at Heisman hopeful Taysom Hill, not 90-year-old Ivan Tidwell.
Surrounded by hundreds of teens and 20-somethings on the sidelines, Tidwell stood as the lone nonagenarian and marched out onto the field like he’d been doing it for most of his nine decades.
“He’s been wanting to do this his whole life,” said BYU Marching Band Director Fred McInnis, “and it’s an opportunity to make his dream come true.”
The dream: To show off his baton-twirling skills to cheers not jeers.
“I’ve kept my twirling up ever since I was a young kid and I would twirl a baseball bat at my boys’ baseball games and embarrass them,” said Tidwell. “I’m not used to getting too many cheers.”
At halftime of the BYU-Houston game at LaVell Edwards Stadium, Tidwell marched confidently to the 50-yard line and turned to his raucous crowd. As the band played pumped out Pharrell Williams’, “Happy,” Tidwell spun his baton flawlessly to the beat.
“I think this is one of the greatest things he’s ever wanted to do,” said McInnis. “I thought he did fantastic. In fact, he did better now than he did in practice the other day in the rain.”
“I’m kind of numb,” said Tidwell with his infectious smile, “I guess it’s because I’m so old.”
As the final notes were played and his natural performer’s flair came to an end, Tidwell tossed the baton high into the air and walked off the grassy stage to his audience's acclaim.