September 27, was a day that 5-year-old Tayden McGertt, a Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community member, will never forget. That was the day he was out on the playing field at University of Phoenix Stadium, along with the Arizona Cardinals, after being selected the Kid Captain for the game. He joined the team on the field for pregame warm-ups and stood alongside the team captains during the official coin toss for the game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Two weeks before the game, the family was notified that Tayden was chosen to be the Kid Captain for the upcoming game. It was a huge surprise to the family. Tayden’s mother, Kirstie McGertt, said, “We told him two days before that he was going to go to the [upcoming] Cardinals game, which he was excited to hear. We did not tell him he was going onto the field.”
The family received four tickets to the game and a parking pass. Tayden McGertt was escorted by his mother, his uncle Nathan McGertt, and Alicia McGertt, his cousin. During the team warm-up activities, Tayden met a couple of the Cardinals players and held the helmet of offensive player Mike Leach (LS).
His mother spoke about her son’s experience. “Tayden was excited to see the grass field, how big it was and how big everything looked; he looked up a lot.” She added, “[When it was time], the family stood behind the Cardinals bench, and team representatives took him onto the field. Big Red [the team mascot] took him by the hand and led him to the center of the field with the other players … then, seeing him on the jumbo screen was so overwhelming, I was almost in tears. As a mom, it made me feel proud and excited, [but also] nervous and a bit scared for him because he is only 5 years old. But he did great! He smiled and waved to everyone.”
When he came off the field with a big smile, his mother asked Tayden what he liked best. He said, “Being on the field with Big Red!”
Tayden’s uncle Nathan McGertt enrolled him in the Cardinals Kids Club through the team website. As an official Cardinals Kids Club member, each child receives an official membership credential; a letter from the Cardinals coach; various team swag items like a T-shirt, duffel bag, sunglasses, bracelet and eye patch; a subscription to the Kids Club newsletter; and a chance to be Kid Captain for a game, which allows the child an opportunity to go onto the field with the team captains for the coin toss.
On September 27, the Arizona Cardinals were victorious over the 49ers, 47 to 7. It was also exciting and a rare opportunity for a 5-year-old boy from the Community to be picked to be part of the Cardinals team coin toss and appear poised and confident in front of thousands of people.
McGertt stated, “I would like to tell parents [that] it might be good to enroll your children into these things like this. It might cost a little, but it is a once-in-a-lifetime [opportunity]. My son most likely will never get to do this again …. It was one of those priceless moments.”