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Ram mascot transition celebrated

October 28, 2010

Come to the Lory Student Plaza on Thursday for a historic opportunity: Photos with CAM 22 and CAM 23. Sign the retirement card for CAM 22 and have an opportunity to win a commemorative T-shirt. Also on Oct. 30 at Hughes Stadium, the Alumni Association is hosting a welcome party for CAM No. 23. The one-year old ram, filled with spunk and energy, will officially receive his mascot's blanket between the first and second quarter of the football game against the University of New Mexico.

CAM 22 is retiring and will be enjoying a life of leisure, grazing on the farm with CAM 23.

CAM on the Plaza Thursday

Bring your camera and take a photo with both CAM 22 and CAM 23 on the Plaza from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday. Sign a retirement card for CAM 22, pick up a bag of animal crackers, and, if you have a ram cracker, turn it in for a commemorative T-shirt (limited supply).

Welcome CAM 23 on Saturday

On Oct. 30 at Hughes Stadium, the Alumni Association is hosting a welcome party for CAM 23. The one-year old ram, filled with spunk and energy, will officially receive his mascot’s blanket between the first and second quarter of the football game against the University of New Mexico. A special giveaway will be handed out at the Alumni Association table in Ram Town prior to the game.

CAM the Ram is an enduring and important tradition for CSU, and his legacy lives on. You can keep the legacy running into the future by donating to the CAM Forever Fund.

The Alumni Association would like to thank the current corporate partners of the CAM the Ram program: Ford, Cinch Jeans, and the CSU Bookstore.

Ram Handlers have long history of caring for mascot

CAM the Ram stands proud in 1947.

Although a black bear (1909-1919) and two different bulldogs (1912-1918, 1936-1945), played a role as Colorado State University’s mascot, it wasn’t until 1945 when the student body chose a mascot name: the Aggie Rams. All bears and bulldogs had to be put aside.

On Jan. 11, 1946, the Lancers, a men’s pep club, brought a domestic ram to the Colorado A&M vs. University of Denver basketball game. And in 1947, the ram was officially named CAM for Colorado Agricultural and Mechanical College, the name of the school at the time. Since then, CAM the Ram has been making appearances at football games, along the Front Range, and across the nation, showing Ram pride and eliciting joy in all his visitors.

History of student volunteers

Although CAM is well-known, the people who train and care for him often take a backseat. Known as the Ram Handlers, this group of student volunteers has taken care of CAM for more than 60 years. Managed by men in the Farmhouse fraternity, it was the late '90s when the Ram Handlers opened their doors to women and to non-agricultural students, expanding the possibilities for students to interact with CAM.

“The first football game I went to as a freshman, I saw the Ram Handlers. I noticed that there were girls on the squad,” says Leslie Smith (’02, technical journalism). “I had an older brother at CSU and asked him if he knew any of the Handlers and how to get on the squad,” she says.

Following a series of running sprints, a ram handling session, and interview questions, Smith was selected for the squad for her sophomore year. “The first year we had eight students – four of them were from the Farmhouse fraternity; the second year we had six students; the third year, only four and that wasn’t enough,” says Smith who grew up in Kiowa, Colo. and is a farm news director for a radio station in Scottsbluff, Neb.

“I’ve been around animals my whole life and worked with show lambs in 4-H, but that was nothing to the extent of a full-grown ram,” she says.

CAM known for his magnetism

CAM and his handlers storm the field at Hughes Stadium on Oct. 24, 2009.

At that time, the ram handlers took CAM to every football game – no matter the location – including the bowl game in New Orleans.

“I loved that when we traveled, it didn’t matter if we stopped at a gas station or a tailgate party, CAM attracted a lot of people,” she says. “He was a magnet wherever he went.”

Aaron Eisenach (’92, business administration) also experienced CAM’s magnetism. “It was a fun time, especially taking him to Folsom Field in Boulder. Being in the middle of enemy territory was crazy,” he says.

Eisenach, manager of a long-term care insurance brokerage firm, grew up on a farm in Fort Morgan, Colo. “There are four boys in my family and we all went to CSU,” he says. At the time Eisenach was a Ram Handler, the program was still run by the Farmhouse fraternity. “There were no tryouts. Some of the guys I hung out with were doing it and I signed up,” he says.

Great alum memories

Wearing white and green striped rugby shirts and blue jeans, the Handlers most difficult job was “getting up on a Saturday morning, bringing CAM from the farm back to the fraternity, getting everybody ready, and heading to the game,” Eisenach says.

Eisenach’s most memorable moment was when they took CAM to McNichols Sports Arena in Denver for the basketball tournaments. “The [men’s basketball] team beat the North Carolina Tar Heels. That was the most exciting time I was ever involved,” he says.

Current squad of 18 Ram Handlers

Today, the Ram Handler squad has grown to 18 students (more than 40 students applied last year). The students take turns bringing CAM to more than 75 events over the course of the year, everything from elementary school programs to county fairs to football games. Traveling in a Ford Lariat F350 and custom wrapped Featherlite trailer, CAM and the Ram Handlers are a grand sight to see as they travel the state’s highways.

“I wanted to be a Ram Handler to help represent the University as a whole,” says Sarah Short, a sophomore from Albuquerque, New Mexico studying animal science. “Being able to run at the football games is a great experience, but my favorite part is attending events where we get to interact with the public. We get to share our stories as well as hear their stories. This is what makes the job rewarding,” she says.

This article originally appeared in AlumLine, the e-newsletter for alumni and friends of Colorado State University.

Contact: Beth Etter
Phone: (970) 491-6533