Pride in Traditions: Border War

(PC: Sydney Stein)

Homecoming has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean that this week is any less important on our campus. This weekend is the host to the infamous “Border War” with Colorado State University, a game with a long history and proud traditions of its own. From the running of the game ball to the Bronze Boot trophy, our traditions make for a unique rivalry and experience.

The Border War had its first “battle” on November 30, 1899, making it one of the oldest interstate rivalries west of the Mississippi River. The actual title of longest running in the U.S. belongs to Lehigh University and Lafayette College, who have been meeting since 1884. That’s only a 15 year difference! Imagine the changes that have occurred in the world during that time. The invention of the automobile, two world wars, even the advent of the internet that we use for our cat video addictions (you know you watch them, don’t lie!) Though there hasn’t been a game for every one of those 116 years, the immensity of the history is mind boggling, especially considering the tradition has lasted through three centuries now. To make it even better, our own UW has the longest winning streak, winning 10 games in a row from 1956-65. Go Pokes!

The Bronze Boot traveling trophy is a fairly recent addition to the established rivalry, and one of the most famous traveling trophies in college football. It was instituted in 1968 by the ROTC detachments at both UW and CSU. Why is the trophy modeled on a military boot, you ask? It actually was to honor an Army ROTC instructor at CSU by the name of Captain Dan J. Romero, who wore that boot when he was serving in the Vietnam War. The trophy is awarded to the winner of the football game each year. It is then guarded by the ROTC unit of the previous year’s winning school during the game. The boot has resided in the UW Athletics Department for 22 out of the 43 years since its inception.

Probably the least well known, but definitely most intense part of the Border War traditions comes from the ROTC detachments themselves. If you happen to be driving along the 65 mile stretch of 287 between Fort Collins and Laramie, keep an eye out for those cadets! The detachments actually RUN the game ball to the stadium that the game is held in. For example, since UW is hosting the game this year, the CSU detachment will run the game ball from CSU campus up to the Wyoming-Colorado border and meet with the UW detachment, who will run the ball the rest of the way to War Memorial Stadium.

    All jokes aside, traditions are things that we continue for the future generations. They project the history we have lived, the pride in our schools, and give us ways to honor people who have given a lot to ensure the opportunities we now possess. So while this is not as big of an event as our weeklong Homecoming celebration, keep in mind the pride that this game is supported by. Maybe even see if you can go catch those cadets running the game ball on 287 and show a little support for them. God knows I could not run that distance!