Early start to Border War rivalry
Oct. 30, 2012
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Colorado State football coach Jim McElwain is an early-morning riser by nature.
Friday, McElwain has even more interest in being up and at it early. He’ll meet a battalion of Army ROTC cadets from CSU who will carry the game ball for Saturday’s Border War clash with Wyoming along Highway 287.
Friday at 5:30 a.m. , the cadets will be in formation, and read a history of the Bronze Boot before taking the game ball from McElwain and selected players and beginning the run to the border.
The group of cadets will each run a mile during a 37-mile trek that begins at 5:30 a.m. Friday morning at Hughes Stadium.
“The run displays the endurance and physical stamina needed for warriors going into battle, not unlike what is required of our ‘gridiron warriors,’” said Lt. Col. Channing Moose. “CSU Army ROTC remain very involved in this tradition and rivalry.”
The CSU contingent will be met at the state line at noon Friday by counterparts from Wyoming. CSU’s cadets will hand the ball over to McElwain, athletic director Jack Graham and Moose.
That trio will then present the ball to their respective Wyoming counterparts. Saturday, Wyoming’s ROTC cadets will present the ball to game officials.
McElwain said he has emphasized the importance of the rivalry to his team. He has spoken with more than 100 former CSU players, and each had a familiar tone about the series.
“The one thing that resonated from every single one of them was that they get how important that game is,” McElwain said.
Every year, Army ROTC cadets from CSU and Wyoming run the game ball from the visiting team’s stadium to the site of the annual game.
Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. game at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie isn’t the only Border War matchup this week.
Friday night, CSU’s volleyball team continues its quest for another Mountain West crown and 18th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament with a 7 p.m. match in Laramie against Wyoming.
This marks the 103rd meeting of the football rivals, the fourth-longest series west of the Mississippi River. Since 1968, the teams have battled for the Bronze Boot traveling trophy.
That year, CSU Army ROTC cadre member Maj. Vic Fernandez had an idea of establishing a trophy for the rivalry. CSU Army ROTC graduate and cadre member Capt. Dan Romero, Sr., donated a combat boot he wore during his tour of duty in 1966-67 in Vietnam. He had the boot bronzed, and it is mounted on a walnut base with a plaque with the scores of the Bronze Boot series.
“This boot is something that was worn in battle by one of ours. That has really hit home for me,” McElwain said.
“I think this is what makes college football great, and our guys understanding the importance of what this symbolizes. It’s not just a bronze piece that sits on a pedestal; it’s much bigger than that.”