(Editor’s note: This story uses interviews with the two students who portray Cam the Ram mascot; however, to meet with CSU spirit squad rules, the students cannot reveal their names in this article.)
There are a few people connected to the sports world who should be scared every time they go to work.
Dan Hawkins’ therapist. Mike Tyson’s publicist. Anybody in the University of Miami athletic department.
But few have it worse than CSU’s mascot, Cam the Ram. He, or more correctly, she, has been booed at, spit upon, patronized and even sucker-punched. On top of all that, she pays to have it done.
“I get nothing,” the 21-year-old natural resources management major said. She (Cam No. 1) and a 21-year-old landscape horticulture major (Cam No. 2) don Cam the Ram’s furry suit for athletic events. “Actually, we pay $150,” Cam No. 1 added.
Some universities across the nation give academic scholarships, money for books, or a yearly stipend to their mascots. But CSU makes Cam pay to wear the green and gold.
“We’re not able to fund-raise either, that could help a lot,” Cam No. 2 said.
Maybe that’s why people think Cam the Ram is so crazy.
Although the girls are full of school spirit, their job is tough at times.
“It’s a lot of work,” Cam No. 2 said. “But it’s worth it.”
It may seem easy to be Cam, but the girls struggle with gender expectations, rowdy college fans and Cam’s toasty suit.
“Usually girls don’t make good mascots,” Cam No. 1 interjected, her brown hair tucked inside her hooded sweatshirt to conceal her identity. “Most mascots are guys.”
These girls take the task of entertaining fans at Ram football, basketball and volleyball games upon themselves every week.
Cam’s suit, at two years old, gives the girls fits no matter what the weather.
“It’s hot, like wearing a snow suit in summer,” Cam No. 1 said. “I sweat and lose weight during a game.”
The size of the suit also causes problems, considering Cam No. 2 is nine inches taller than Cam No. 1.
“I’m so naturally clumsy, I trip and fall a lot of the time,” Cam No. 1 said. “We can’t even fit through a door (in the suit).”
And nerves can cause problems, especially in front of a rowdy game day crowd.
“I was fairly terrified my first time on the field,” Cam No. 1 said.
“It was pretty intense,” Cam No. 2 added.
After three years of mascot duties, Cam No. 1 has learned that college fans tend to be over-exuberant at games – imagine that.
Being CSU’s mascot isn’t always safe, especially when the Rams play against Colorado-Boulder.
“CU is rough, they hate the Ram,” Cam No. 1 said.
She remembers having a CU student arrested for shoving her at a 2004 football game in Boulder.
Cam No. 2 said she was beat up at the Rocky Mountain Showdown this year.
“A couple of big guys wearing CU polos cornered me in the tunnel at Mile High (Stadium),” she said.
One of the men pinned her against a wall, delivering quick jabs to her abdomen. She had the wind knocked out of her.
“They stopped when they saw a security guard turn the corner,” Cam No. 2 said. “I just wish I could have showed him that I was a girl.”
Cam is not alone when it comes to mascots and boisterous fan behavior.
According to Emiliana Sandoval of the Detroit Free Press, in 1999, an Ohio State band member wielding a 3-foot foam banana at a football game in Columbus smacked Iowa’s Herky the Hawk mascot from behind. Herky then sued OSU, citing “severe personal injuries, pain and suffering.” She was awarded $25,000.
So why do mascots endure so much? What could possibly motivate the girls to put on Cam’s costume every week?
“I bleed green and gold,” Cam No. 1 said.
The girls continue to wear Cam’s costume to promote school spirit and to foster a sense of campus pride. They do it to support CSU athletics.
“I love the Rams,” Cam No. 1 said with a smile. “But people need to cheer for CU too.”
Maybe Cam really is crazy.
Staff writer Mathew Planalp can be reached at email@example.com.