Sep 162004
 
Authors: Jon Pilsner

It’s as much a part of CSU as the Ramskeller or Cam the Ram.

It’s just a whole lot bigger.

The giant “A” that adorns the side of the mountain overlooking

Hughes Stadium dates back to 1924, when a group of volunteers

decided to express their pride by painting a giant letter

symbolizing the school’s mascot at the time, the Aggies.

Now, freshmen football players and Sigma Alpha Epsilon

fraternity members maintain this symbol of CSU’s past by repainting

the “A” every year.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the famous letter was repainted in

preparation for this weekend’s home-opening football game against

Minnesota.

“The tradition is nice,” said CSU offensive coordinator Dan

Hammerschmidt. “The kids can get a lot out of it.”

Hammerschmidt remembers making the same journey up to the

hilltop when he was a freshman football player at CSU back in

1982.

“The whole team unites,” Hammerschmidt said. “They may complain

now, but the seniors remember when they did it. It’s good for the

team.”

Bill Woods, director of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, said football team

members help carry the 250 gallons of paint, along with other

painting supplies, up the mountainside. Fraternity members then

come the following day and paint the 450-by-250-foot “A.”

On Wednesday night, following practice, freshmen football

players helped move the paint into place.

“It’s a great tradition,” said Jeff Horinek, a freshman

linebacker from Kansas. “They should keep things like this up.”

Woods said his relationship with head football coach Sonny

Lubick helped sustain the teamwork and tradition between the

fraternity and the football team.

“I knew Sonny before he came here,” Woods said. “We just planned

it out and now one of the coaches always brings the kids up here to

help us out.”

Prior to the fraternity taking letter-repainting responsibility

every year, Woods said the letter sometimes would go a couple years

without being repainted and would fade into the mountain. Now, the

fraternity takes care of the letter so that it is always

visible.

Brock Johnson, a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon and director of

the painting, said he was happy that he could be a part of painting

the “A.”

“People are grateful for what we do,” Johnson said. “Before it

would only get painted every other year, so, about 17 years ago

(the fraternity) decided to take it on as part of our service to

the campus.”

Johnson said about 30 fraternity members were expected to help

paint the “A,” which would take an entire day. The football players

would help if they could without missing class or practice.

Freshman cornerback Michael Myers said he expected a lot of

work, especially after practice.

“But it’s not as bad as I thought it would be,” Myers said,

laughing with other teammates. He helped move five-gallon buckets

of paint down the steep terrain.

Freshman defensive end Matt Rupp also thinks the tradition is

good for the university.

“Every school has to have traditions,” Rupp said. “This one

seems all right.”

Rupp did have one suggestion to change for next year’s

freshmen-class trip up the mountain.

“Double the workload, make them work harder,” he said with a

smile.

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