CSU Athletics aims for welcoming, winning culture

In football coach Jay Norvell’s first season in Fort Collins, which marks the 130th anniversary of football at Colorado State, he wants to learn about that history – the legends, myths, and heroes. So, he listens to longtime coach Sonny Lubick’s stories about the rivalries, milestones, and emotions behind Rams football. He also invites ex-players to share insights and inspirations with current team members.

“One of the things that we talk about as a program is that we want to make the jersey better than when we got it, and that you can’t do that without recognizing the history,” Norvell said. “It’s like stitching the fabric of the past into the future so those stories live in this team and this current group of players. And it’s a powerful thing when you see these 17-, 18-, 19-, 20-year-old guys and they look at a guy who’s 50, 60, 70 years old and that guy still cares enough to come back and support them.”

Norvell also interacts with fans, students, staff, sponsors, season ticket holders and young fans who are part of the vision for the future. Part of that commitment was opening spring practice for all.

“We need the community, we need the fans,” Norvell said. “We want to be a program that people can touch. We need the students to feel connected to what we’re doing.”

Since 1892: A Rams Walk Through Time

Take a stroll through 130 years of CSU Rams football history with this interactive timeline.

Coach Norvell on Football field

Rams are champions

Norvell’s first season comes after a school year with success in most sports. The headline was coach Niko Medved’s men’s basketball team finishing with a 25-6 record, playing in the NCAA tournament, and standout David Roddy being selected 21st overall in the NBA draft.

But wait, there’s more!

Women’s basketball made the Mountain West tourney title golf qualified for the NCAA regionals; three track and field athletes made the NCAA nationals (both men and women were team runners-up in the MW meet); women’s cross country was 17th in the NCAA; swimming and diving went 14-0 in duals; tennis matched a program record with 15 wins.

“This is sort of a year that we’ve hit an inflection point where we’ve had many programs that have historically had great success,” said Joe Parker, CSU’s athletics director. “But it’s obvious when you get programs that garner a lot of public interest performing at a higher level, there is more energy in the room.”

All the CSU head coaches feel that energy.

“We interact all the time,” volleyball coach Tom Hilbert said. “Football, they’re geographically different than us because they’re over at Canvas Stadium. But Norvell and his staff have been very visible, come to meetings, go to a lot of events. You can tell it’s a priority for them to engage with everyone.”

Parker said track and field coach Brian Bedard has built something almost as consistent as Hilbert, whose CSU teams made the NCAA tournament every year from 1997-2019: track and field teams have averaged a top-two MW finish for nearly a decade.

“We want to be recognized as the preeminent program in the Mountain West,” Parker said. “And what I believe that’s going to take is for all our programs to consistently finish in the top three in the conference. We’re always going to be a program that’s focused on winning but winning with integrity.”

Special Saturdays

Fans will be feeling the new energy as well. Home games at Canvas Stadium this fall will feature easier parking, overnight RV parking available at Moby Arena, and a Ram Town with family experiences for everyone.

“I just think Saturday afternoon in college football is probably the most American event that you can have,” said Norvell. “You don’t have to even know a whole lot about football. (People) enjoy game day, it’s a social event. I just think it has so much to do with the pulse of a campus. We want to play an exciting brand of football that people have fun around. I’ve always felt that responsibility for how we play and the type of players we bring in and the spirit and enthusiasm that we bring to it.”

Norvell is excited to bring that spirit to Canvas Stadium. “Everybody knows where it is. And on those six Saturdays in the fall, (they know) there is a reason why it was constructed. We want those to be special days.”

Bronze Boot

This year’s Military Appreciation football game is Nov. 12 – the Border War against Wyoming, with the Bronze Boot on the line. ROTC cadets from both schools will exchange a game ball at the state line at noon; kickoff is 5 p.m.

Come on down to Ram Town

Ram Town is the most exciting place for Colorado State fans to get into the football spirit on campus before every home game.

On the corner of Meridian Avenue and Hughes Way just a block away from Canvas Stadium, Ram Town is the main location for all reserved tailgates for the 2022 season. Along with activities and entertainment for the entire family, the prime location provides an up-close view as head coach Jay Norvell and the team take their Ram Walk into the stadium on game day.

Ram Town is also the new home of the open-to-the-public Coors Light Ram Walk Tailgate, hosted by the Alumni Association and Athletics. Enjoy local live bands, with food from Colorado’s own Brother’s BBQ and both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages available for purchase.

Parker’s contract extended

Colorado State University Athletics Director Joe Parker, who begins his eighth season leading the department in 2022-23, has signed a five-year extension, securing him as the Rams’ top athletic administrator through Dec. 31, 2027. Under Parker’s leadership, the Rams have won 21 Mountain West championships, second-most among any program in the league over that span, including 15 across women’s programs.

Joe Parker, Athletics Director, talking with a Ram fan