There’s no stronger nor more-loved tradition at CSU than our stalwart mascot, CAM the Ram. This month we honor his 60th anniversary.
Do you know how CAM came to be a CSU ram? Here’s a brief refresher:
- In 1945 the Colorado Agricultural and Mechanical College student body voted the ram as its official mascot.
- In 1946 the men’s pep club made a first-ever–and surprise–appearance at a DU/CA&M basketball game with a domestic ram named Buck. He was decorated with a blanket emblazoned with “Aggie Rams.”
- Sixty years ago, in 1954, CAM became the official mascot. President Morgan christened CAM the Ram during halftime at a Colorado A&M vs. Wyoming basketball game.
- Members of the Alpha Zeta fraternity served as handlers and keepers of CAM, which is now handled by the Ram Handlers.
Prior to CAM, the university’s mascots included a bear, a bulldog, and even Coach Harry Hughes’ son. But since the mid-1940s CAM has traveled in support of the former Aggies, and Colorado State University Rams. The Ram Handlers, CAM’s volunteer group of student caretakers, guarantee his safety and health as he makes appearances at alumni and athletic events – he loves entering the field at Hughes Stadium, perhaps as much, if not more, than alumni enjoy having their picture taken with him over Homecoming weekend.
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.
Though Ram Handlers no longer have to take a sprint test, they do need to be well versed in sheep facts and the University. “CAM and the Ram Handlers give the community an opportunity to learn about our school, our students, our research, and all the wonderful things CSU is accomplishing. It also provides a chance for potential students to see that they too can be a CSU Ram and accomplish great things,” says Ram Handler Laura Bowman ( M.A. ’14, Political Science).
CAM and the Ram Handlers are true ambassadors for CSU. “From young Ram Fans to older alumni, to the international students, it is no secret that CAM has supporters and fans all around the world. By engaging people in conversation about CAM and CSU, I have come to be proud to call myself a Ram and have had a glimpse at what amazing feats CSU alumni have accomplished,” says Ram Handler Jake Leins (’14, Civil Engineering). “Being a Ram Handler at CSU has transformed the way I perceive the CSU community.”
The mascot and his handlers are managedy by the CSU Alumni Association. Be part of CAM’s legacy through the CAM Forever Fund.
CAM’s gentle nature, terrific curly-q horns, and unforgettable face are natural audience draws. He’s as much a showman for his famous Rambouillet breed as he is an emblem of CSU pride. The origin of the breed goes all the way back to North Africa and has been traced from Spain to France to Germany and beyond.
- Distant ancestors of today’s Rambouillet accompanied Moorish conquerors to Spain during the 14th Century and descendants were left behind when the Moors were driven out.
- Valued for its quality Merino wool, Spain forbade export of the sheep breed and dominated the European wool trade.
- In 1786, the King of Spain gifted France’s Louis XVI a small flock. The sheep were sent to the king’s farm at his Rambouillet estate, where the sheep were carefully breeded for their superior fine wool, body size, and confirmation.
- Rambouillet sheep were first imported to the United States in 1840.
The Ramouillet breed has gone through many selection changes over time. Read the complete history of the Rambouillet breed at the American Rambouillet Sheep Breeders Association website.
by Carol Busch (M.A. ’02)