Usually females are the ones concerned with footwear, but the roles will switch on Saturday when the Rams travel to Laramie for the annual Border War against the Cowboys.
The two schools have been going head-to-head for over a hundred years, but the game gained a competitive aspect in 1968 with the addition of a trophy; but this was no ordinary trophy. It has been to Vietnam and back, worn on the feet of CSU ROTC Instructor Dan Romero. After he returned to the United States, the actual boot that trekked across the jungles of Vietnam underwent a bronzing process.
“It still has the scuffs and scratches from walking around the jungles of Vietnam,” ROTC Cadet Captain Scott Martin said. “It’s one of the longest standing traditions in the United States.”
Martin, along with 36 other cadets, will be in charge of the Border War traditions. The festivities begin at 6 a.m. on Friday morning, when the company receives the game ball from head coach Jim McElwain, then begins the real work.
Working in shifts, the cadets must run the game ball 39 miles to the Wyoming border, when they will ceremoniously hand the ball off to the Cowboy ROTC branch who will run the ball into Laramie and into the hands of UW coach Dave Christensen.
“It’s really cool for us; the physical challenge of running 39 miles builds a lot of camaraderie,” Martin said.
The Rams have not won the boot back from Wyoming since 2008, so nobody who is currently enrolled in the school has witnessed the boot behind Fort Collins glass. In fact, not a single person on the team has ever had the chance even to touch the boot; something the Cowboys pride themselves on.
“It’s a really great feeling just knowing that we beat our rival and being a part of a hard fought game each year,” Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith said. “Being able to hold that boot, that exemplifies so much.”
Martin, along with the Rams seniors are hungry for the opportunity to honor their school with the legendary trophy.
“I’d like to bring it back for my last year; it belongs here,” senior center Weston Richburg said. “It’s a big rivalry, we just have to do what we’ve been trained to do.”
Since the Boot came into the mix, Wyoming leads the series 24-21, but CSU has the edge with a 55-44-1 all-time winning record.
Taking back the Boot won’t be easy for the Rams, the Cowboys are 3-0 at home this season and have a 4-2 overall record. Smith has left the bodies of opposing defenses strewn across the field in wake of his 505 rushing yards on top of 1,854 yards through the air.
But the team has every intention of bringing home the bronze for the team, the school, the city of Fort Collins and the ROTC unit.
“We have a few boot guards who will stay with them team,” Martin said. “If we win, they will be able to escort the boot back to CSU. It would be cool to have the honor of guarding the boot for a year, it would make our efforts more fruitful.”Football Beat Reporter Cali Rastrelli can be reached at email@example.com.