Memphis is the home of Justin Timberlake, some guy named Elvis and where 300 CSU Ram fans spent their New Year’s Eve supporting the Rams during the Liberty Bowl.
Over winter break, 300 CSU students endured a 50-hour bus drive traveling to Memphis, Tenn. to cheer on the Rams at the Liberty Bowl football game as they took on the mighty Horned Frogs of Texas Christian University. The three-day, 2,400-mile trip was organized and put on by the Associated Students of CSU.
In my opinion, only hardcore, dedicated fans would travel 50 hours on a bus with no leg room to cheer on Sonny Lubick and his team, but I found out that the trip offered a lot more than just a football game.
CSU athletics donated game tickets to students, equaling up to $15,000. The office of the Vice President for Student Affairs also donated money to the trip.
In addition to game tickets, the price of the trip – $150 – included transportation, admission to a pep rally held on Beale Street in Memphis the day before the game, admission to the tailgate party for both teams held before the game, a two-night hotel stay and a shirt commemorating the game.
“It was a good deal for your money,” said Jeff Willson, a senior in journalism. “It was definitely a cheap way for college students to party.”
A good deal it was. If someone went alone, I figured out the trip would have cost well over $300, plus you can’t put a price on spending over four days cooped up with the best Ram fans.
Students went on the trip for a lot various reasons.
A recent graduate, Heather Headley, said she went because it was her last chance to go to a bowl game and to meet new people.
“I’m going to support the Rams and have a hell of a New Year,” said Krystle Hofmeister, a sophomore in speech communication.
It was not just college students who got in on the action. A lot of alumni also attended the game.
“People here are excellent, the enthusiasm is outstanding,” said alumnus Jack Ferwick during the tailgate party.
The six charter buses left for Memphis on the 29th of December. On the way down, some people slept, some decided to indulge in a book, others listened to music while others decided to chat with neighbors and sing the fight song. It really gave students a chance to meet other students they normally wouldn’t meet on campus or in a classroom. The bus I was on, a group of students were showing scars and telling the stories about them, playing card games together and making new friendships.
When we finally arrived in Memphis, everyone signed in at the hotel room, got our game tickets and headed to Alfred’s on Beale Street for a pep rally.
If you thought of Old Town on steroids with open container laws, you would get Beale Street, a very historic and popular street in the city. Bars line up both sides of the streets with street performers and beer stands. Because Memphis allows alcohol outside the bars and on the streets, every five feet was a beer stand, set up almost like lemonade stands. We were welcomed with a parade with both marching bands from CSU and TCU performing as well as bands from local high schools that were very impressive.
It was game day, the event we all traveled all this way for. We were treated with a tailgate party that included an all you can eat buffet and an open bar. But the best part of the party was the excitement fans for both teams displayed. The performances from the CSU and TCU bands provided the ultimate soundtrack for the event. Both took turns performing while fans cheered along.
After the game, fans from both teams celebrated the New Year on Beale Street. There must have been 3,000 people on the street that stretched four city blocks. The atmosphere there was great. TCU fans were drinking for their victory and we were drinking to forget our defeat.
Not everyone could be there. Underage students spent the night seeing other parts of the city and in their hotel rooms.
The trip back to Fort Collins on the buses was a lot calmer and quieter than it was going to Memphis. People were resting off two days of little or no sleep. Movies like Pulp Fiction and Meet the Parents entertained those who were awake.
Buses arrived back at Fort Collins on January 2.
“It went excellent,” said Brendan Burns, the director of student activities for ASCSU. “We couldn’t ask for it to go better.”
According to Burns, ASCSU is one of the few student governments nationwide that take a part in planning a trip such as this one.
The only thing I’ll say about the game is that Cybill Shepherd sang the national anthem and Clint Black performed at halftime.
Despite our defeat, the trip turned out to be great. Sometimes as students we get so busy with our schedules and our lives that we don’t take the time to get to know our peers outside of classrooms. I met a lot of students I normally wouldn’t have met going to classes or in the student center.
Though the football game might have disappointed some students, some did not let the loss damper the trip.
“I came here thinking that the game was going to be the highlight,” said Christine Connally, a junior in wildlife biology. “But even though we didn’t win, it didn’t ruin the trip.”