Today @ Colorado State has been replaced by SOURCE. This site exists as an archive of Today @ Colorado State stories between January 1, 2009 and September 8, 2014.

Alumni

Rabid Rams fan

October 11, 2010
By Paul Miller

Homecoming, alumni, and football go together like... well, like Erik Wilmsen and the Rams. Here are five questions (plus) on the life and times of a rabid CSU fan and alumnus.

Emily and Erik Wilmsen form a matchless team of Rams spirit and support.

Q: When did you graduate? What was your major? 

Well, 1988ish. Technically, I had one class remaining and didn't formally graduate from CSU until 1998 when I went back to school for my second degree. I majored in Technical Journalism with a concentration in news writing.

After working as a newspaper reporter for several years, I wanted to do something a little more lucrative. So I went back to school and got a degree in information systems. My wife [Emily Wilmsen, senior media and community relations coordinator] and I were living in Denver at the time, so for convenience sake I went to Metro State.

Q: How long have you been at CSU? What’s a day of work like for you? Do your co-workers seek out your advice and counsel for all Rams trivia, big and small?

I've worked at CSU for about seven years. I currently manage the CSU Computer Repair Center in Morgan Library. My typical day has me buried knee deep in computers while barking orders at my student employees. (Just kidding!) The student employees do a great job and it would be tough to get by without them. Since the beginning of the semester, we've fixed about 160 computers. I make sure we have football, volleyball, and basketball schedule posters in the work area, and I have a big Ram flag in my office.

Emily and her co-workers in the PR office periodically ask for historical perspective. Recently my wife was out of town touting CSU at a public event. A prospective student asked her a football question, and she said, "I don't know, I’ll call my husband." I had the answer for her.

I actually have other hobbies, but during my lifetime I’ve amassed an embarrassing amount of trivia about the Rams. Of course, now that former Ram reporter Tony Phifer [writer for External Relations], whose knowledge dwarfs mine, is around, the calls to me are a lot less frequent.

Q: How did you become such a die-hard Rams fan?

I think it was sort of bred into me. We moved to Fort Collins when I was 1 year old so that my father could take a job as a faculty member in the CSU electrical engineering department.

One of my earliest memories is of my dad listening to a CSU game on the radio while splitting firewood in the driveway. When they did something bad there would be some sort of creative expletive and then a mighty swing of the ax. A lot of wood got split that day.

We were here the last year the College Avenue stadium was in use. My folks took me to a game or two there although I don't remember it.

Hughes Stadium is where it all started for me. During the 70s, game day atmospheres created an impression that never left me. I remember beautiful fall days when the likes of Mike and Mark Bell (actually there were two Marks – one was called “Tinker” Bell to make a distinction) played for Sark Arslanian. There was a billboard on I-25 that said, “Sark it to ‘em Rams.”

The north end zone was grass and people were still allowed to sit there. I think they ended up blocking it off for liability reasons. But at the time students filled it up sitting on blankets and getting rowdy. My memories might be inaccurate, but it seemed like the stadium was always packed and the atmosphere was great. Anyway, that was when CSU football got ingrained in my soul.

Q: What’s a typical game day like, either at your home or the stadium? Does life as you’ve known and loved stop completely until the game is over?

We like to show up in the parking lot about three hours before game time for tailgating. I personally think Hughes Stadium is a great place for tailgating. I never understand when people want to pave it. How does hot asphalt make for a better tailgating environment on an 80 or 90 degree day?

We typically have a few friends hanging out. We discuss how smart we are and how the coaches should be doing this and that. I used to have a couple of personal friends on the coaching staff but that didn't stop me from arm-chair quarterbacking. Deep down though, I understand that I have no idea what I'm talking about.

Game time is sacred. I always make sure we start cleaning up half an hour before kickoff so that we can get a ... uh ... beverage, and hike to the top of the stadium to be in our seats before kickoff. We used to have seats lower down, but I like to stand during much of the game, and people behind us didn't appreciate that. So we moved the season tickets to the top row. And, let's be honest, there's not a bad seat in Hughes Stadium.

We rarely leave early – although there have been times when a game has been just too painful to stick it out to the end.

Q: How do you handle football seasons like this one? Do you support/attend other Rams competition like basketball or volleyball?

It definitely tries my patience. By the end of a bad game I'm convinced no one knows what they're doing, then by the time next Saturday rolls around I'm sure all problems are fixed.

Ultimately though, I was a fan long before we had any kind of sustained success here. Being a fan is about more than just winning. It's the game-day experience. It's the camaraderie with other fans win or lose. It's about identifying with something that’s part of you. The players on the field, the fans in the west stands, and the students – we're all a part of CSU and that will never change.

Professional athletes will move from team to team and their allegiance moves with them. The fans who once loved a player end up hating that same player when he moves to a rival team. CSU Rams will always be CSU Rams, regardless of what else happens in their lives. The problem with getting a taste of winning (thank you, Sonny Lubick) is that you get used to it and start to expect it. Then when losing comes back around, it hurts more.

I’m a football-first person, but we try to make it to a few other games/matches etc. throughout the year. What Tom Hilbert has done with the volleyball team is really amazing and he and the players really deserve the support of us all. I’m really excited about the basketball teams this year as well. It seems as though they are in position to turn the corner at long last.