No. 1 Bearcat fan

Tina Hermetz, the “no. 1 Bearcat fan,” smiles for the camera at the Cullman v. Muscle Shoals game Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – There were four seconds on the clock when the Cullman Bearcats sent kicker Brody Adams out for a possible game-winning field goal. While others might have been counting the Bearcats out before their exhilarating comeback over Muscle Shoals Friday night, Tina Hermetz was not nervous at all. “Not at all,” she smiled. She seemed to know that her beloved Bearcats would be celebrating the big win.

Hermetz is a huge fan of the Cullman Bearcats and is at every home game decked out in her black and gold. Some even say she is the no. 1 Bearcat fan. Hermetz especially loves to sit close to the band and cheerleaders and knows all the stand tunes and cheers.

“GO, GO, GO, GO!” Hermetz exclaimed earlier in the night as Bearcat quarterback Max Dueland snapped the ball before completing a touchdown pass. She cheered enthusiastically along with the cheerleaders as the band played “Victory March.”

Hermetz, who was born with mental disabilities, comes to every game with her twin sister, Toni Treadway, who explained, “We just had a birthday on the 19th of October, and we are 61 now. Margaret Jean Jones Center is where she has always gone, but now, when COVID hit, they cut out a lot of the programs that she was in. They are hoping they can get more programs started so she can go back down there, but right now, she sits with my mom during the day.”

Coming to the football games is one of the highlights of Hermetz’s week. She and Treadway attend St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, where Hermetz has many friends. Through church, Hermetz always seems to know students who are cheering, on the field or in the band. She enjoys supporting her friends and all the kids. She especially enjoys the marching band and insists on being next to the band in the stands.

“I believe she may very well be our no. 1 fan. I have had the honor of speaking to her and usually getting a big hug from her at every home game for as long as I can remember,” Cullman Band Director Christopher Smith said of Hermetz. “She is always full of joy and team spirit. She is also always excited to see what the band will perform at each game. She is truly an essential part of the home game atmosphere, and we are honored to play for her and all of the fans at each home game in the fall. For me, the game is not complete without getting a chance to see her and her enthusiastic spirit each Friday night.”

The band put together a special surprise for Hermetz at Friday night’s game. Smith, along with a couple of the band’s student officers, found her in the stands and gave her a gift bag with goodies from the Pride Store including shiny gold shakers, a Bearcat Band pin and T-shirt. Other fans in the stands applauded as she received her gift of appreciation and posed for pictures.

Hermetz smiled, “That’s why I come every week so I can see everybody.”

Treadway said of her sister, “She has to see things over and over, like repetition. She’s watched enough football to understand. She loves Auburn and she watches every game. She repeats what they say. The Cullman cheerleaders, she has watched them so much that she repeats the cheers. At church, they let her sing in the choir and she is a part of the group even though she can’t read the music or the words. It’s a huge deal because she just wants to be like everybody else. It’s just a big deal for her to be able to come out. A lot of people don’t let their kids come out; I call them kids, but they are adults. They don’t get out and socialize with people, but we’ve always done that with her. She’s gone everywhere that we did. She didn’t stay at home. Everybody knows her because she went everywhere with my mom and dad who were involved in everything.”

This week, Cullman will take on Columbia High School for the Bearcats’ last regular season game. A win will mean the Bearcats will host Shades Valley in the first round of the state playoffs. For Hermetz, that’s at least one more home game in 2020 and she couldn’t be happier.

As the game ended Friday and the band played Hermetz said simply, “Go Bearcats!”

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From left, Cullman High School Band Director Christopher Smith, Tina Hermetz, Band President Olivia Wood and Band Senior Representative Peyton Burgess pose for a photo in the stands in Oliver Woodard Stadium Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

Christy Perry