Oct 312005
 
Authors: Anne Farrell

The music, the smoke, the cheering crowd. But it isn't the football team that is first on the field, it's CAM.

CAM the Ram appears on campus and at many special university events accompanied by his special friends, the Ram Handlers.

Ram Handling involves taking CAM to events, leading him through crowds, running him across the field at football games, cleaning up after him and a number of other responsibilities.

"I had always seen Ram Handlers running CAM across the field at football games and thought that it would be a really good way to get involved show Ram spirit and make connections with a variety of people" said Meghan Schultz, a senior animal science major who has been Ram Handling since last year.

Almost anyone on campus can apply to become a Ram Handler; the position is not limited to animal science or pre-vet majors. Applications are available today and selections are made in January. However, first year students are not allowed in the group because of the time commitment.

The selection process is fairly rigorous, said Kraig Peel an animal science professor and advisor for the Ram Handlers . When choosing the handlers an attempt is made to maintain the group's diversity, which is why the handlers vary extremely.

"When they take (CAM) out they are representing the university" Peel said.

Next year the group hopes to expand both in terms of numbers and events that they participate in. Currently there are 10 handlers, but Peel says they look to have as many as 12 and increase their visibility by taking more trips.

Handlers chosen in January train throughout the spring semester to learn how to handle and take care of CAM. Those who choose to continue for another year also mentor new members.

"Even though I've run with him across the field at football games for two years I still get an adrenaline rush when we take off with the football team running behind us and the crowd cheering." Schultz said. "That is the best part of it, just feeling the school pride."

Without a Ram there would be no handlers. CAM is a domesticated ram, but had to go through an intense training process. Currently there are two rams, one that goes everywhere and a second that is in training for next year.

"(CAM) is cool," said Leanne Lick, an American studies major studying abroad at CSU. "We don't have (mascots) in England."

Before being brought out into public CAM must be halter broken and trained to be used to people holding him. He also has to be comfortable around large groups of people in any number of situations.

"(Seeing CAM) is something to look forward to at the games," said Erin Lee, a junior psychology major.

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