Thelma Chase has been a die-hard Husker fan for close to a century.

Two weeks ago, she made it to her first Nebraska football game.

At 106 years old.

Thelma cheered for the Huskers against Ohio State. She cheered for the band. She cheered for the sea of fans sporting red. She cheered for the hot dogs shot into the crowd.

The smile didn’t leave her face, despite the Husker loss.

And the following Saturday, she saw a Husker win against Northwestern after meeting head coach Scott Frost.

Thelma has watched the football team on TV, but being there in person was a different experience.

“I just thought that I was on a different planet almost,” she told The World-Herald. “It was a special place to be.”

Thelma, who’s originally from Maywood, Nebraska, loves Husker sports — football, volleyball and basketball. They’re on year-round at her Lincoln home.

But living in western Nebraska for most of her life, Thelma never had the opportunity to see games in person, said her son Bob Chase.

She tried to go one year in the 1960s, but was sidelined by a snowstorm.

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The Husker bucket-list items were crossed off after Thelma announced her birthday wish — to attend a game and meet Frost — during a segment with a Lincoln TV station.

The owner of U-Stop, a chain of Lincoln convenience stores and gas stations, donated tickets for the Ohio State game.

Thelma’s family and the Nebraska Athletic Department gave her fresh Husker gear for the occasion, including new hats.

Thelma arrived an hour before kickoff against Ohio State, walked into the stadium and watched the entire game from a suite. She thought Memorial Stadium was something everyone needs to see.

“It doesn’t matter the score,” Bob Chase said. “She’s commenting on the beauty of the stadium, the friendliness of the Nebraska fans and the kindness of everybody to include her.”

One of her favorite things about the game experience: the popcorn. It was the best she’s had.

The university’s athletic department offered Thelma suite seats for the Northwestern game the following week, and she took them up on it. She also took a behind-the-scenes tour the Friday before the game.

During the tour, Thelma and company ran into Frost, who had just finished a practice. Frost knelt down next to her chair and chatted with Thelma about her family and fitness habits. (She walks regularly and does small barre sessions at the gym owned by her son.)

Thelma said she’s never met a Husker coach before and thought it would be a nice memento to tuck into a memory book.

She enjoyed the experience, including sporting Husker gear, and it was even more meaningful to share it with her family. But Thelma didn’t think it was anything out of the ordinary to do at her age.

“She doesn’t quite understand why everyone’s making a fuss,” her son said. “(She says) ‘I’m 1-0-6. No big deal.’ ”


27 times Nebraska football won — or lost — on a last-minute score since 2000

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