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Ram Ruckus' re-vamp looks to create culture, engage student fans

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June 25, 2016

How is passion defined?

Well, when many young people spend time to work on a project without being compensated, that’s a good gauge of passion.

Without a doubt, Josh Dolan — President of Ram Ruckus — and Jacob Hintzman — lead marketer — are passionate about athletics at Colorado State University. More specifically, they’re enthusiastic, driven to be the ones who re-establish a student fan base at CSU.

“That’s how this all started,” Dolan explained in an hour-long, exclusive interview Thursday. “We were at the Wyoming basketball game (at Moby Arena in February). There were a decent amount of people there but we didn’t do anything. We just did our typical chants. I was like, ‘This is so stupid, especially with a school of 35,000 people.’ So, we emailed Tony Frank, not expecting anything. And he emailed the Athletic Director Joe Parker, who emailed his assistant AD to set up a meeting. We had a meeting with him and it went super well. He was like, ‘Get me a board.’ So, there’s a board now of 10 people…And more will be joining soon.

“That’s where Ram Ruckus did fail before, they didn’t have anyone younger come behind them,” Hintzman added. “The students who started Ram Ruckus back when the basketball team was doing well, they graduated and no one was there to take over.”

Immediately, Dolan and Hintzman have found solutions to road blocks which halted the success of the student-led fan group Ram Ruckus in the past; a leadership committee has been formed and it now includes members from every class, freshman-through-senior, in order to ensure once the group has been re-established, it will grow for years to come.

Rewind to 2012-13, when Ram Ruckus began, and the student sections at Moby Arena were loud, proud and rowdy. That season, true “Moby Madness” ensued with wild, deafening crowds creating a true homecourt advantage. Of course, it’s easy to drive large crowds to the game when the team is winning – that special team was likely the greatest in the history of CSU’s men’s basketball program – but the loudness of Moby also helped that squad win, going 16-1 at home that year.

Last year, crowds at Moby were sad, not mad. The average game was attended by only 3,853 people, a dip even for a program which rarely sells out. As we wrote back in December, the first thing CSU must do is engage students. A large and loud student contingent pumps up the rest of the crowd and keeps the energy high during contests, helping the team on the floor or field win.

The school is listening. The athletic department is not only in favor of Ram Ruckus, they’re also helping fund the group, while other opportunities abound, too.

“There’s a ton of things we can do to make money,” Dolan explained. “We can do Ram Ride and get money from that.

“We had a meeting with some CSU supporters at Illegal Pete’s and they want to donate us money,” Hintzman added.

Money brought in goes to many things; T-shirts, posters and signs for use during games, pizza parties before games and even to booking music acts like DJs. For the committee members, their hope is the new Ram Ruckus app – which is set to come out soon – will also help generate revenue to help fund everything needed to run a successful fanbase.

“We’re going to re-launch that (the Ram Ruckus app),” Hintzman said. “We thought it’d be done by now, but it isn’t. That’s kind of hurting us because we’re at every freshman orientation. But, when it does come out, it’ll be a $15 fee to become a part of Ram Ruckus and that’s where you get the app. I believe $11 of the $15 goes back to the university and the rest goes to Ram Ruckus.”

$15 sounds like a steep fee for an app, but the rewards students will reap are numerous.

“They’ll get a free T-shirt, tailgates, they’ll get food,” Dolan said. “I’ve already talked with (Mike) Bobo, (Larry) Eustachy, Ryun Williams and we’re going to do things like pep rallies, bon fires and they’re going to bring players. Because, if you can interact with players, you may realize, ‘Hey, I care about this person.’”

“Another incentive for spending $15 on the app is it tracks your location, so every time you attend a game you earn a dollar to the CSU Bookstore,” Dolan continued. Those Bookstore dollars will be weighted, with more money able to be earned for say women’s soccer ($5) compared to football ($2), but with every event making students money back.

In order to connect with students in 2016, technology – in the form of the app – must be integrated and the young men were excited to announce a new logo for Ram Ruckus coming soon for their social media accounts, which have been ramping up their efforts as of late in the buildup to the 2016-17 school year and seasons.

And in order to connect with those young millenials, it takes more than just attending a game.

“Instead of it just being an event to go to, it needs to be an experience, like, ‘I will never forget that,’” Dolan said.

How will Ram Ruckus create once-in-a-lifetime experiences?

Students on-field: “For football games, we’re going to try to make tunnels with students for players to run through,” Dolan explained.

“The first game is the orange-out game, so whoever signs up for it gets an orange-out shirt, give them food and bus them over to Hughes and then they make the tunnel for the team,” Hintzman said.

“We could have rally towels and that’s an experience,” said Dolan.

All-day events: The two proposed the idea of music – likely a DJ – and tailgating on the IM fields in the leadup to football games in 2017 at Sonny Lubick Field at the On-campus Stadium.

“It needs to be a whole day event,” Dolan said.

Coach/player interactions: “Bobo’s always willing to help us out,” Dolan started. “We want to get everyone on the IM fields and he’s going to bring football players and himself and he’s going to talk to get everyone amped for the game.

“Hopefully, we’re not promising this,” Hintzman added.

“We’re still working on everything,” Dolan explained. “But this is something in the process.”

“Even Bobo, I’m in a fraternity, and he’s going to all the greek life because they’re big supporters of CSU. He had a meeting with our whole chapter and gave us a power point (to connect with us),” said Dolan.

Fum’s song: “We want to bring back the Fum’s Song,” Hintzman said.

They’re planning on picking a time during the game in which the students will sing the song, but it won’t be officially backed by the athletic department. A great move for fans, who want to song back.

Overall, the idea is to first create a culture of students supporting athletics, and then to establish a legacy.

“It’s not about a lack of knowledge for our students, it’s about a need of culture,” Hintzman said. “This year is sort of a buildup year, 2016.”

“And then by 2017, we want to be taking off,” Dolan finished.

For Colorado State athletics, fan support – specifically student support – has been drastically lacking the last few years. But, with Dolan and Hintzman in charge, as well as help from the athletic department, Ram Ruckus looks primed for a rebound this fall and winter. Then, after establishing a culture of caring about CSU sports, the student-led group will certainly be ready to “bring the ruckus” in 2017 when the on-campus stadium opens, and beyond.

Notes:

  • One goal is to have so many students show up to the Rocky Mountain Showdown the stadium has to open up more seats for CSU fans, like they did in 2015.
  • Hintzman said they’d like to do away with the “F CU” chants to keep the student section classy.
  • One hinderance to fan support is the security at Moby Arena and their unwillingness to allow fans to call out players or coaches of the opposing team. But, the two are confident that when more students pack the seats, they can simply enjoy cheering as it’s more difficult to stop an entire crowd.
  • Another hinderance is the lack of promotion of CSU athletics on campus as well as in town. Hintzman hopes local restaurants and bars start plastering Colorado State schedules on their walls and Dolan hopes the gap between north and south Fort Collins – which he says is “like another town” – can be bridged, acknowledging the number of out-of-state residents who have taken a hold there.
  • The major focus for 2016 will be student attendance at men’s basketball games, which was loathsome in 2015-16.

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