When Mekana Barnes and Ashley Fornstrom suited up for the women’s basketball team on Thursday night, it came as a surprise to most that a collegiate athlete would suit up for two sports in one season.
However, a stroll down memory lane would show that Barnes and Fornstrom join a large group of CSU athletes who’ve played multiple sports for the Rams.
Before personal trainers and scholarship programs, CSU athletics were composed simply of the best athletes at the university. There was no recruiting, no promises of stardom, just a chance to compete against other students from around the region.
No two athletes personified the spirit of competing than Fum McGraw and Glenn Morris. Today, students know McGraw as “the guy with the song” and I would venture to say that 99 percent of our current student fan base hasn’t heard of Morris.
It’s a shame that not many people have heard of Morris because he is the only Ram to ever set a world record in the Olympics. If that accomplishment wasn’t enough, with Morris leading the way, CSU won back-to-back conference titles and beat archrival Colorado-Boulder three times in four years.
After leading the football and track teams to titles, Morris trained for two years to become an Olympian and just four months after competing in his first ever decathlon, Morris smashed the world record for the event while competing in the Berlin Olympics.
When he returned from Germany, Morris was given the James E. Sullivan Memorial Award for the best amateur athlete in the nation, beating out another Olympian named Jesse Owens.
While Morris was on a global level, McGraw made his name dominating on a more local level. McGraw was an All-American heavyweight wrestler, All-American discus thrower, and All-American lineman for the football team.
Not only that, but McGraw coached his alma mater assisting in both track and football. So while McGraw became known as the “singing old guy” to a generation of college students, he was first known as all-around athlete.
So what do a couple of men born in 1912 and 1927, respectively, have to do with Barnes and Fornstrom, two standout female athletes?
McGraw and Morris paved the way for excellence in multiple sports, something that Barnes and Fornstrom might need to do if they continue to fill in for the vastly short-handed women’s squad.
In fact if Barnes continues her exceptional college career, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see her inducted into the CSU sports Hall of Fame joining the likes of 102 other athletes who have been inducted into the hall.
Barnes’ plaque would now have two sports on it instead of one and that places her in good company. Of the 102 athletes in the hall, an astonishing 25 of them played more than one sport for the Rams.
So while it may seem unusual to see Barnes and Fornstrom wearing their volleyball kneepads on the basketball team’s bench, they are not first to cross over into multiple sports.
Sports Editor Mike Donovan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.